Home Remodel in Creve Coeur
With its striking before and after photos, this elegant five-bedroom home remodel in Creve Coeur, Missouri, needed to make an appearance on the blog. Aptitude Design & Build owner Matt Mierek has perfected the art of collaborating with homeowners in any capacity necessary to develop the perfect result—which came in handy for this project. The homeowners, two doctors who often work 14- to 16-hour days, had little time to talk through specifics like tile, colors and materials.
Mierek prepared a handful of options for details requiring homeowner approval, like paint colors and wood stains, adding swatches of each on the floor and walls. The strategy allowed the homeowners to make quick and easy decisions about what they wanted. “Some clients like to be more involved—but everyone’s different,” he says. Keep reading for more details and background about this project.
Tell us a bit about the background of this project.
The couple who bought the home had planned on remodeling it down the road, but they wound up doing it before they moved in because of a leak from washer/dryer removal. That wreaked havoc on the kitchen and basement for several days, and they brought us in after a damage-restoration company repaired everything. So that’s what prompted them to move forward with the remodel before they moved in. The kitchen was really the focal point of the project and required the most work. They wanted to brighten up everything else in the home with cosmetic fixes, like redoing the hardwood floors and painting the walls, instead of gutting everything.
What was your approach to the design aesthetic of this project?
The homeowners actually had cabinets picked out before we came aboard, which helped us suggest what colors and styles would look good to use for the walls and floor. We also helped them choose tile for the kitchen and backsplash, with our input on what would flow together to make the space look a little more modern. That’s really what they were after: more of a contemporary look. Much of that just comes from changing the paint color on the walls, trim and flooring, all of which can dramatically changed the look of a house without needing to spend a bunch of money on a full remodel. Given the color of the cabinets, we tried to stay with warm color tones. In general, sticking with similar tones to your walls and flooring really tie everything together.
What’s your favorite design element of this project?
There’s a limestone hood we created over the stove in the kitchen, and I’m really proud of how that turned out. The clients actually wanted a typical wooden hood, which I felt didn’t really match the style of the house as a whole or the kitchen. We pushed for stone instead, and it turned out really nicely. It’s one of the features you immediately notice when walking in, and then you naturally start to notice the smaller details around it as well. Things like that can really pull a whole project together.
When a client isn’t immediately on board with a design component you feel would work nicely, how do you handle it?
I explain how it will feel and look from the perspective of the future—not what it looks like at that moment. We’re thinking of how everything will come together once there’s furniture and decor, especially once we know them a bit better and understand their aesthetic. We do this kind of work a lot, and having done this kind of work for a long time, you just learn things along the way about what works and what doesn’t. Once we’re able to explain that to clients and encourage them out of their comfort zone, things start to make sense to them and they give us more leeway. On the other hand, I’ve also had situations where I thought a certain element would look nice and change my tune after hearing why a client doesn’t want to move forward with it. It’s really about that give and take.
What was a hurdle you ran into on this project, and how did you navigate around it?
The main hurdle with this one was that the cabinets didn’t all arrive at the same time. All projects have issues, and my belief is that it’s how you respond to them that makes you a good contractor. Anyone who tells you everything will go perfectly all of the time isn’t telling you the truth. With all of the elements at hand to pull off a project, something is bound to go wrong.
With the cabinets, we had three quarters of them come in at one time, and the rest came in a month later. It was really a question of figuring out how to keep the project moving so we could still finish on schedule. We ended up setting the cabinets in the main part of the room, which helped us choose countertop materials and paint colors for the walls, so we could install and complete those parts. Then the plumber was able to install piping, and we could complete the backsplash. We did it in a different order than we would normally to keep the project moving, so by the time the remaining cabinets came in, about 90% of the kitchen had been completed. We could have thrown up our hands and said, “The cabinets aren’t all here, we can’t do anything yet.” But there’s always a way to stay proactive and keep things moving forward.
What has the client response been?
They’re really happy with everything! The final result is very homey and a good space to entertain, but it’s also still a modern update. It’s their family home, so they wanted it to look nice but still be able to have fun and not be afraid to mess it up.
Private Residential Home Remodel
Creve Coeur, MO