When Big Gets Bigger

Karl Andersen began designing a magnificent custom home in the very ritzy Paradise Valley neighborhood of Arizona. The client was thrilled. After purchasing his lot and seeing his dream take some form in blueprints and floor plans, the client was well on his way to building a new home.

But after six months of designing, the Paradise Valley municipality denied some of Andersen's plans for the home because of restrictions regarding floor-area-ratio and its hillside location. A little discouraged, Andersen suggested the possibility of remodeling the client's current home, transforming it into something even bigger and more glamorous than his doomed custom home project.

The Tables are Turned
A partner in the design/build firm DB2 Limited, Andersen then went to Jim Kuhn, CEO of the firm and suggested a remodel of a 1960s-style home located on the Phoenician Golf Resort, a prestigious and well-known golf haven. As plans began to unfold, Andersen and Kuhn helped make the client more and more conscious of what his current home had to offer.

"While we were explaining the potential his home had, he gradually became more excited," says Kuhn. "Soon enough, he had sold his custom lot and planned to focus on remodeling his current home to suit his families needs."

Like a majority of DB2 Limited's projects, this client came in from a referral. "Besides jobsite signs, we do no marketing," explains Kuhn. "We mainly focus on the higher-end areas of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley."

Kuhn, who spent most of his life in the industry, worked for a construction company on the East Coast before landing in Arizona to start his own company.

Today, DB2 Limited employs 11 people, five in the office and six in the field. Embracing the design/build philosophy, Kuhn closely works with two architects on a regular basis. One of these architects became the primary designer for the Phoencian project.

A Typical Remodel . . . at First
At first the project began like a typical DB2 project. It consisted of adding on a great room and updating the house to meet today's standards. Careful consideration was taken to allow the homeowners to live in this residence well into their senior years, requiring easy access to all areas of the home. This included the addition of an elevator to help the homeowners gain access to the second floor.

"Surprisingly, many of our clients who are in their 50s are already planning ahead and incorporating design elements to help in the aging process," says Kuhn.

Consistent with other updated homes found in this vintage neighborhood, a new great room and aging-in-place features were gradually incorporated into the plan. Over time, the project became anything but typical. Eleven months later the project had exceeded anything either Kuhn or the homeowner could have imagined.

With the addition ready to be built on his nondescript ranch-style home, and after the initial design was set, the client had another suggestion in making his dream come to reality. He wanted to add a second floor to the single-story, three-bedroom, three-bath home.

"The layout of the original home was confining in the sense that each room could not be expanded to gain square footage," says Kuhn. "Building up was the only option."

Soon the second floor opened up to an enormous master bedroom suite, complete with a spa-like bathroom and sitting area.

"We had to design the staircase that led to the second floor — this soon became the focal point of the entire house," adds Kuhn. "We also built a wine cellar and utility closet underneath the staircase to maximize space."

Since the new master suite was relocated upstairs, the previous master bedroom was now vacant. Then yet another project was created. That room was then remodeled into a second guest quarters — the first one being the second level of the existing two-car garage.

"The hottest trend in Arizona is adding a guest house," says Kuhn. "People are almost always requesting to add on a guest room or guest house — typically for their elderly parents to stay in or their out-of-town childen.

Luckily, the guest quarters above the garage had been remodeled a few years ago — that was the only section of the home we didn't have to touch."

Like most of the Arizona homes built in the '50s and '60s, Kuhn says the structure was a tremendous challenge to remodel.

"Back then, there was no air conditioning, so we have to fully incorporate a new HVAC system into the home," adds Kuhn. "To minimize heat intake, these older homes also have smaller windows, which are now completely unwanted — especially in this remodel, he had amazing views that we really wanted to capture."

To capture the scenery, Kuhn added many new windows with overhangs and horizontals. This not only provided shade but diminished the threat of damage posed by golf balls.

Creating an outside oasis
The outdoor area was just as important as the inside. "We see many of our clients requesting built-in barbeques, fireplaces for colder nights and even (cool spray) misters for those hot Arizona days," says Kuhn. In this project, Kuhn already had a beautiful pool to work with. He and his team designed an overhang to block out the sun and reworked a built-in barbeque, cabinets, appliances and countertop, which had been set against a garage wall.

"The landscaping was totally redone since we added a circle driveway in the front and wiped out most of the existing to allow room for construction," says Kuhn. "We also re-did the tile work on the steps to the guest suite over the garage, patched areas around the pool and installed new tile on all the new patios."

A Desert-Style Dream
At the end of it all, the project more than doubled — from mearly an easy addition to a whole-house remodel. "The final project left the homeowners with a new study and exercise room, basically three master bedrooms, a guest house and outdoor living area," adds Kuhn.

Today, the house has been transformed from a basic ranch into a beautiful Arizona desert-style home — easily making any homeowner's dream come true.