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Renovation Solutions: Freedom through architecture

Published: Friday, July 18 2014 4:40 p.m. MDT

AFTER: Homeowners feel free when their homes are comfortable and work well for their families.

Trina Knudsen

We hope everyone had a safe and happy July Fourth celebrating our country’s independence and freedoms.

In our own homes, we should feel free, too. However, some homeowners may feel trapped under clutter or in a small space that isn’t working anymore. Others may feel imprisoned by a growing list of projects to fix in an old house demanding attention. Maybe you simply crave the freeing feeling of creating something new for yourself and your family.

When you begin a home remodeling project, one freedom you will be acutely aware of will be the freedom of choice. Sometimes this is overwhelming; sometimes exhilarating. Either way, it is important to understand that as the homeowner you are ultimately in charge of decisions regarding every detail of your home remodel.

Your first decisions will be in selecting the professionals with whom you choose to work or, in other words, assembling your "A" team. As the process unfolds, it is important to remember that you are the boss and have the last say on everything from doorknobs to light fixtures.

Freedom from worry is another benefit from remodeling a home. While older homes are charming, all the charm usually comes with a price. Some homes seem to own their residents rather than the other way around. It costs time, money and many weekends dedicated to fixing the current problem, and the rest of the time worrying about what might need attention next.

One client knew her house was taking up time and energy but didn’t realize the extent of the time spent worrying about her house until after she finished her remodel. She said after the remodel she realized she was always worrying about her old house.

She said it was a freeing feeling to not worry about if this was the weekend the sewer would back up again or the electrical would pop for the last time. Before the remodel, she rarely had people over because she worried about her house, and frankly she didn’t have time. Every weekend was full of a long to-do list for her house.

After the extensive remodel of her 1940s bungalow, she was surprised by how free she felt. She suddenly had her weekends again! Her house was even easier to live in on a daily basis. She could simply live in her house and didn’t have to work so hard to just use it. She said now she can cook in her kitchen without having to deep clean the grout lines first, and she doesn’t worry about her house falling apart. Suddenly, she felt comfortable having people over and finally had the time when the house project list disappeared.

Finding the freedom to entertain comfortably is a common result of remodeling. Many clients add gathering spaces and great rooms with the goal to entertain. Just opening the floor plan often results in a more freeing, casual space for more clients to comfortably entertain.

One client in particular did not have the goal to create the ultimate entertaining house, but after the remodel it happened by default. She said her house became the party house because it was so comfortable. She said she found out how much she loved to entertain in her new inviting space.

Stories such as these just make us smile and remind us how much we love our job. Seeing how our work affects the end user is actually one of the reason why we started Renovation Design Group in the first place. Previously, we worked as architects working on commercial and institutional projects. We dealt with facility managers or building and maintenance department leaders rather than the people who would actually have to live and/or work in our buildings.

Now, we work with the end users all the time. It really is rewarding to see that what we have done helps our clients find peace and freedom by being able to live comfortably in their own homes — liberating families through architecture.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com

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