Whole-house $200,000 - $500,000

1st Place Winner
Silent Rivers, Urbandale, Iowa

Second Place:
GC/a Architecture, Arlington, Va.

Third Place:
Architectural Building Arts, Madison, Wis.

As remodelers, we have always enjoyed a good story,” says Chaden Halfhill of Silent Rivers, Inc., Urbandale, Iowa. “This project provided no exception.”

What began as a brick, three-story walk-up saved from the wrecking ball 10 years prior by a local neighborhood association, once again found its vitality depleted. The well-intentioned association had converted the abandon shell into a low-income rental property.

After 10 years of renters, the association established a partnership with a local symphony alliance to restore the building as part of the Symphony Design Showcase — a tour of design ideas and products.

Silent Rivers was asked to redesign the top floor, converting two apartments into a single condominium. They were even provided with a fictitious vignette of a person who might live in this penthouse.

Vignette: Suzanne was a middle-aged designer who had moved home to the Midwest from her Eastern seashore residence. She wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren, but desired to continue her design practice from her condo, and therefore needed to combine a creative working space with an inviting and relaxing living environment. Suzanne is defined as a multitalented creative, whose passion for historic homes is mixed with an eclectic vent for simple contemporary styling.

The team set the tone of the design after viewing the magnificent skylight in the stairwell. “We opted to create two planes of glass in the entryway, allowing the daylight to fill the loft from the core of the building as well as from the four exterior walls,” adds Halfhill.

The interplay of light and artistic metaphor set the tone for this lofty condo, which allowed Silent Rivers to establish the central social zone in which two sculptural fireplaces were built to anchor the openness of the top floor. These custom stone fireplaces reemphasize the axial relationship between bedroom and studio, while helping define sitting areas that are flexible yet inviting.

The kitchen takes advantage of the condo’s southern windows, where four hanging stained glass panels are featured. Silent Rivers creatively chose dual-wood kitchen cabinets, combining cocoa-stained oak with light maple to capture the essence of the traditional 1906 building while integrating an urban metropolitan elegance.

The eastern and western wings of the condo allowed for a master suite and working studio. The master suite is open, with stepped walls that divide the function of each space, but allow for a comfortable openness equated with urban lofts.

“We think Suzanne would be extremely pleased with the flexibility and thoughtful amenities incorporated into her remodeled penthouse,” says Halfhill.

The judges concur and add, “wonderful treatment, flair and attention to detail,” and credited this project with the Best of Show Over $200,000.