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March 2016

A Look at Sylvestre's
CotY Award-Winning Remodeling Project

CotY Award 2016Sylvestre Remodeling & Design has been honored by a 2016 Regional Contractor of the Year (CotY) award for a universal-design project created for clients in the North Central Region. The regional award also makes us a finalist for the national CotY to be awarded by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) this spring.

We'd like to share this project with you, not because it's an award-winner, but because it reflects Sylvestre's core philosophy: designing homes for what you love and how you live. In this case, the "how you live" was changing for our clients' teenage daughter. She has a polio-like disease that weakens her muscles and could one day require a wheelchair. Her parents wanted to redesign her small closet and bathroom to give her complete independence. They wanted an elevator installed near her lower-level suite – without obstructing the family room also on that level. And, they wanted the new spaces to have the same elegant, modern aesthetic of the rest of their home.

CotY Award-winning universal design bathroom project

Design for ability

Universal design principles use layout, safety and accessibility to create barrier-free spaces that support independence for people with strength, mobility and vision issues and really are designed to make life easier for all people. For this family, we integrated those principles in a design that is a perfect teenage retreat now, and that can grow up with her, reflecting her changing lifestyle and maintaining her independence.

CotY Award-winning universal design bathroom project

We turned a cramped closet with high, unusable shelving into a spacious walk-in closet with easy-access shelves and room to dress sitting down. The new elevator looks like a simple closet. Light fixtures and controls are low and accessible. Instead of a traditional (and hard-to-maneuver) door, the bathroom features a 36" gliding pocket door.

Before and happily ever after

We loved so many aspects of this project, including the chance to incorporate accessibility into such a beautiful result. So many people think of universal design as "institutional." But – and I think it's why we won the CotY Award – creativity can mesh barrier-free design with the style and warmth of any home. Just look at the bathroom and shower floors: they're ADA-compliant non-slip hard floors achieved with handsome porcelain tile.

CotY Award-winning universal design bathroom project

Luxury touches for a highly practical bathroom

For the shower, our design includes a built-in seat plus two shower heads for showering while sitting or standing. We eliminated the need for a curb or shower door. This provides easy access and it adds to the light, airy feel of the surrounding spaces. Far from being harsh or institutional, the bathroom includes touches of luxury like a towel warmer placed at a level reachable from a wheelchair, plus heated flooring and ceiling panels for warm and cozy showers.

In terms of marrying aesthetics with accessibility, other touches include substituting a stone ledge for a traditional grab bar near the toilet which takes advantage of our client's stronger left side movements.

CotY Award-winning universal design bathroom project

The universal appeal of universal design

Pocket doors, open shelves, barrier-free design and even the elevator featured in this project aren't just for bathrooms...and they're not just for family members who have disabilities. Universal design makes spaces more welcoming to everyone from very young children to the elderly. And, with some creativity, it's possible to use beautiful finishes, fixtures and design elements to translate accessibility for every room of the house, and for homes of any style.

Ease and timelessness are at the heart of universal design and our own approach to designing homes. If you're thinking about remodeling, we'd love to talk with you about how to incorporate these "grow with you" design principles into creating a home that reflects what you love and how you live.

Maintenance Tip: Inspect Roof and Gutters for Winter Damage

Damage to your roof that occurs during the harsh winter months can lead to larger problems in the Spring. Inspect and repair loose or damaged shingles, gaps in the flashing, and leaks in the seams and at the corners of gutters. Most importantly, pay attention to the location and direction of the downspouts. Make sure they get the water far away from the house. This, in many cases, is the #1 reason for basement water problems. Preventive maintenance to keep your roof from leaking will likely be much less expensive than repairing water damage to your home – both exterior and interior – after a storm.

Elephant Seals   Sea Otters in Moro Bay
Elephant Seals    Sea Otters in Moro Bay 

What's the Story?

We are very pleased with winning a National Association of the Remodeling Industry 2016 Regional Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award for our universal design bathroom. In the past few years we have worked with clients on a number of projects that feature universal design, and the bathroom above incorporated many details and things that we had learned on other projects. Also, our client deserves a lot of credit in helping us bring together the design. They had very specific information on what worked and what didn't work for their daughter, important heights that optimized her muscle strengths and a great aesthetic! Their daughter also helped by showing us what would work the best for her. We then incorporated that information in the design. Award-winning projects are always a result of a team, and this was a classic example of a true group effort.

A classic west coast sunset.
A classic west coast sunset. 

I have some really great personal news to share with you with the announcement that Alice and I will be welcoming our first grandchild! TADA!!! My son Marc and his wife Mary are expecting their first child sometime in September. We are really excited!

Lunch spot outside of Big Sur.   A great San Francisco row house.
Lunch spot outside of Big Sur.    A great San Francisco row house. 

Before the grandchild announcement, we had a trip planned to St John, Virgin Islands with Marc and Mary. However, this quickly changed with the problems with Zika virus in the warm Caribbean. We had a quick change of plans and decided to go to the west coast, flying to San Francisco then staying in the small beach town of Cambria, about 3 hours south of San Francisco. We had a great time and capped the trip off with a couple of days in San Francisco. Such great architecture, people-watching and wild animals.

With the two high school state tournaments completed without a major blizzard, Spring may really be just around the corner!

John Sylvestre

Until next month,

John Sylvestre
Phone: 612-861-0188

Sylvestre Remodeling & Design