When Sara and Michael of Riverwoods moved into their home in 2006 they knew it needed a lot of work. They handled some small projects on their own, but the projects proved too time consuming. They hired a contractor in 2008 to renovate their bathrooms, but it was a difficult process with many problems.


Whole House Renovation: A Successful Project Story

By: Rob Mortell, Marketing Administrator

For the next ten years the family grew, but the house didn’t. The small kitchen remained closed off, there was no space in laundry room, the house was not functional for their teenagers, and no one wanted to invite friends over much. Sara and Michael knew it was time to renovate, but they also knew they had to find the right company this time; no more DIY, no more incompetent contractors. They needed a company that could handle everything from design, to products, to permits, to complete construction and management.

The eager couple began their search combing the internet for potential companies when a friend referred Advance Design Studio. They liked what they saw on the company’s website and scheduled a consultation with Owner Todd Jurs and Designer Claudia Pop. Sara and Michael were impressed quickly with how honest and forthright Todd and Claudia were about the project plans, cost, and assurances the project would be complete and be a great experience.

“One of the major reasons we chose Advance Design was when they came in and said, ‘we will take care of everything’ that was the key right there,” Sara said.

After their previous experiences they still had fears and concerns. “We had heard stories from people who did extensive remodels that said, ‘it’s going to be out of control, it’s going to be way over budget’ that fear was taken away pretty quickly (with Advance Design),” Sara said. After the initial meeting, Claudia gave Sara and Michael a folder full of information, including a lengthy reference list.

“On our initial meeting with Advance Design, they had given us a list of referrals. We ended up knowing about 5 people in our area that they had done work for,” Sara said. “I talked with most of those people and they all said they were happy with Advance Design.”

Todd and Claudia won over the couple with the aid of numerous referrals and outstanding customer reviews which ultimately affirmed how they felt about initial meetings, making Sara and Michael’s choice quick and easy. They were confident that Advance Design could turn their cramped house into a beautiful and spacious livable home. Next, they asked, how do we start?


Phase 1: Kitchen, Laundry/Mudroom, Powder Room and Great Room


Most of the house needed to be renovated, but because the family planned to live in the home during the renovations, it was broken down into two different phases to make the process as smooth as possible. Phase 1 included: A kitchen remodel, laundry/mudroom relocation, open concept great room with living room, dining area and dry bar, a powder room facelift, and new hardwood flooring throughout. Additionally, the dated exterior got a facelift with new siding, fresh window wraps, soffits, facia and gutters completely changing the entire look from outside. The house interior felt cramped, dark and plain old. The goal was a cohesive space that was a bright, inviting space and Phase 1 would open up the entire home tremendously.

“The home was in dire need of updating,” designer Claudia said. “The client needed a better space for the washer/dryer as well as space for a mudroom and more of an open concept between the kitchen/dining room/living room. The kitchen was long and narrow and closed off to the rest of the home, and no one could work in there without being cut off from the home’s activity,” said Claudia.

Opening up the kitchen was extremely high on Sara and Michael’s priority list, and a major motivation for the entire project plan. A large fireplace that separated the dining and living room was removed, along with two closets in the kitchen. The reconfigured space allowed for creative cabinetry storage solutions, a fantastic open kitchen with a giant family island ideal for serving and food prep, a large sink station, and ample bar seating, but most importantly the new kitchen made the house feel significantly bigger. The dining room was moved closer to the kitchen, while the family room was moved to the old dining room location. The stunning living area complete with amazing views of the wooded back yard was finished with new French Doors and furnished for the kids and family to enjoy TV and video games.

Bright white and soft grays were used throughout the new home to lighten up the space. Dura Supreme Crestwood Cabinets in Classic White were used on the perimeter kitchen cabinets, while light gray textured and weathered cabinets were used in the expansive island. Cashmere Carrara (White) Quartz countertops, with a beveled edge, grace cabinets throughout the kitchen giving the family a crisp-looking, worry-free surface for meal preparation. The subway tile backsplash is the perfect blend of practicality, simplicity and style.

All new appliances were added for increased functionality and a striking stainless-steel look that compliments the white and grey color patterns perfectly. A 30” gas cooktop from Bosch with a matching stainless-steel 36″ Pyramid Canopy Chimney Hood gives the kitchen a modern, contemporary feel, while the dual built-in ovens from Bosch make cooking large meals a breeze.

Sara and Michael knew the family needed a better space for the washer/dryer, with Claudia’s guidance they decided to move the laundry room and create a mudroom off the garage for additional storage and functionality. Matching the kitchen, an elegant furniture-like built-in entertainment wall was created in the center of the great-room offering up drinks in the under-cabinet refrigerator along with entertainment storage for dish and glassware. Grey-tone hardwood flooring was added to most of the space providing a subtle contrast to the monochromatic color scheme, which rounded out phase 1 of the project.

“We began working on designing phase two during the construction of phase one so that we could just roll into the next part of the project after a short break. We did our best to help the family transition from living in one side of the house to the other so the next phase would be as easy as possible,” Claudia said.


Phase 2: Master Suite and Informal Family Room with Wet-Bar, Entertainment Center & Kid’s Bath

Phase 2 consisted of a master suite renovation, which included the master bedroom, an all-new luxurious master bath, a renovated secondary/kids’ bath, and a brand-new closet system. The ranch house had a somewhat awkward room with a fireplace in it that separated the main part of the house from the master bedroom. This room over the years became almost like an informal living area for both the kids and the couple alike since it was right outside their bedroom door. The family agreed they wanted to continue the informal use of this space for kid hangouts, and intimate Saturda mornings for the couple.


But they also took advantage of the opportunity to re-create a stunning bar area complete with elegant cabinetry and refrigeration, ice maker and bar sink for entertaining friends at parties and sleepovers. A vaulted, white-washed wood ceiling with distressed hardwood beams created the desired modern-rustic open feel that the couple was hoping for. A statement chandelier acts as a focal point to the expansive ceiling, bringing the room to scale.

The corner fireplace was completely refaced for an up-to-date stone front with hearth and custom mantle, and the entire space enjoyed a casual rich chocolate stained barn-door entry allowing it to be closed off from the main living area. The family reports this room is now the most used space in the entire house and everyone loves the flexibility of this wonderful new family hot-spot!

The original master bath was taken over by an infrequently used large jetted tub, and there was not enough vanity/counter space. The relocation of the laundry room meant there was room to expand the master bedroom and bath and create a more functional closet space. The newly designed master bath is now an efficient oasis for the couple to escape from the busyness of the family room outside their door!

In the much more functional new master bath, dual his and her vanities feature Dura Supreme Crestwood Cabinets in White with a single top mounted sink and stainless-steel Kohler faucets. An alcove shower with a hinged-glass door gives Sara and Michael a relaxing, spacious shower. Three different types of tile were used in the shower. The mosaic Carrara Marble on the floor and in the niche combined with the grey ceramic herringbone tile and the 12×24” Carra Matte porcelain tile on the shower walls delivers an interesting contrast of soothing textures. A new closet system from Plus Closets rounded out Phase 2, and finished the whole house remodel.

Finishing Touches

The two-phase project met all of Sara and Michael’s expectations. If any problems popped up throughout the course of the renovation, they were pleasantly surprised at how the project managers and Advance Design were quick to address. “Any time there was an issue, where we needed a phone call, the immediate response from everyone on the team was something that stood out to us,” Sara said.

The whole family loves the new and improved home, specifically the brightness and cohesiveness of the whole space. Everything just seems like it belongs together. One thing Sara pointed out when we visited with her to photograph the new home was how they really thought they would have to create an addition to house the new kitchen they were hoping for, and how they were really happy that the value-engineering Advance Design did to create an expansive new kitchen within the confines of the house envelope saved them thousands of dollars, giving them more money to use in the existing footprint.

“It’s so much more functional than what we had before,” Sara said. “We live in our house now. Before we just didn’t have people over, my kids didn’t have friends over that much and now this is like the house to be at. It’s just so much more livable than it was before.”

See Riverwoods Whole House Renovation Photo Profile Here