Design Firm Goes To 'Extremes' To Make Over


Tucked away in the this neighborhood of Queens, NY sat a one-bedroom home ravaged by the elements. It was left unlivable by a contractor who ran off with $72,000 of the owner's money after only ripping off the roof.

The owners'the Ali family headed up by a single mom raising two adopted, 12-year-old boys'were left essentially homeless in October 2002, living for two years on family members' couches, moving from hotel to hotel and even staying at a homeless shelter briefly.

The family was finally able to move into a small studio apartment while paying the mortgage on an uninhabitable house.


Enter ABC TV's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Alure Home Improvements in East Meadow, NY last year. The Ali family was chosen by the show to receive an extreme home makeover, and Alure was picked to be the contractor to execute it.

"I think the biggest outrage for me is that someone in my business took advantage of this hard-working family, stole their money and left them homeless," says Alure president Ferro. "When Extreme Makeover asked us to step in and undo the damage... we threw ourselves into the job."

Indeed, Ferro spearheaded the Ali project for Alure, which was selected upon a suggestion of a West Coast remodeling firm that was also picked for the show. That firm is a part of the same Remodelers' Advantage Roundtable as Alure. When it heard the show was going to New York, it suggested Alure. The show contacted Alure, and after some initial interviews, the firm began the pre-planning stages.

Ferro put Doug Cornwell, CKD, in charge of the planning. As executive director of the Ali project, Cornwell scheduled all 11 project teams, including everything from framing, sheet rock and landscaping to the kitchen and 2.5 baths. He worked with each team's leader, which was either a project or department manager at Alure, and also did much of the design work. And, he coordinated with Lock and Key Productions, which produces the show for ABC, and the show's stable of other allied professionals.

The show was filmed in August 2004 over a seven-day period. As usual, two days were devoted to the before shots and moving out. The five remaining days were devoted to the actual remodel, from start to finish. To say there was a time-crunch would be an understatement. But Cornwell and his team rose to the task.

"Actually, we had five days and nine hours," recalls Cornwell. "But the bigger challenge was scheduling and keeping track of 100-plus people and what they're doing at any point in time during that timeframe. Scheduling was difficult, but we kept everyone on schedule, so there were few surprises. And those were nothing a normal remodel could have in store'only, here, the timeframe was sped up."

For example, the front porch and the living room were sitting on nothing. "We had to rip out both, re-do the foundation and rebuild the front porch. We also had to re-shore up the entire left side of the house and rebuild the left wall because it was termite-infested," explains Cornwell.


When it came to the kitchen, it was important for Cornwell and his kitchen team to give the Ali family one large enough so the mom could have the neighborhood over for her traditional salad dinners on Friday nights.

"We really had to make the kitchen functional enough to accommodate that," he says.

To that end, the kitchen team widened the space by borrowing some hidden space behind the staircase and backed the Kenmore refrigerator in there. The team also opened the kitchen to the adjacent great room.

Since she did entertain on a large scale and enjoyed cooking, the team gave her a suite of professional-style Kenmore appliances, including a 24" dishwasher, a 42", dual-fuel range and a 42" hood.

The appliances' stainless steel finish complemented the sleek, black-and-white color palette Cornwell and his team devised based on her love of contemporary design. Stainless steel is also seen on the Kohler Co. Swerve kitchen sink and Essex faucet.

Cornwell and his team also installed white Northbrook cabinetry from KraftMaid Cabinetry, Inc. "The cabinetry was a Shaker style with clean lines," says Cornwell. "It only had a small molding detail at top, just under the open soffit."

The cabinets play off the Stellar Night Silestone countertops, which feature a bullnose edge and full backsplash.

"Because of the timeframe, it's hard to install a full backsplash with Silestone, or anything else, but I worked out a system to do it," notes Cornwell. "I doubled the box cut-outs in the backsplash so they could be pre-made by the fabricator, and then we worked around the cut-outs, pulling the wiring through the pre-made cut-outs. It's unusual in the remodeling industry, but it allowed us to have the look without the hassle."

The same countertops appear on the 6'x3' island, which is packed with roll-outs and other such cabinetry storage options, like the rest of the cabinetry.

Black and white 12x12 tile from Dal-Tile highlighted with a 4x4 Carerra marble inlay bought for the original remodel complete the contemporary feel of the kitchen. "We installed the inlay underneath the glass dining table," explains Cornwell.


The kitchen/great room design was made possible by the inclusion of a small, 6'x6' powder room, whose structure and position on the left side of the house acts as a support.

The powder room is "plain" and simple, Cornwell says, but still reflects the contemporary look of the first floor with a Kohler Co. Camber console table and lav and tile from Dal-Tile.

Upstairs in the master bath, Cornwell and his bath team installed all Kohler Co. fixtures, including a 5' whirlpool tub, in biscuit. "The sink was a vessel with a wall-mount faucet that comes out of the glass of the medicine cabinet," he elaborates.

Blue, green and other jade-colored Dal-Tile mosaic tile lend the bath a seaside feel.

Last, but not least, Cornwell and his team installed all Kohler Co. fixtures, including a regular 5' tub, in white, in the boys' bath.

Clear wall tiles featuring black and navy beads from DDG Designs add an interesting touch. Black, 12x12 floor tiles from Dal-Tile complete the look.


Project Highlights

  • In 2004, Alure Home Improvements and ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition remodeled this weather-, rodent- and insect-ravaged home in Queens, NY, picking up where a contractor left off two years' before when he ripped off the home's roof and skipped town with all of the Ali's remodeling money.
  • Sal Ferro, Doug Cornwell and the rest of the Alure team fixed the foundation, shored-up the termite-infested left wall of the house and gave the Ali family a sleek, contemporary gourmet kitchen in black and white. It's equipped with stainless steel, professional-style appliances, sleek, white cabinetry packed with plenty of storage punch, and black Silestone countertops and full backsplashes.
  • The kitchen is part of an open layout that overlooks a great room and includes a dining area.
  • A powder room also installed on the first floor on the left side of the house allowed the Alure team to maintain the open layout. Upstairs, a master bath features a whirlpool tub, plus tile inspired by the colors of the sea. The boys' bath features a regular tub highlighted by unique, clear tile that features floating black and navy beads.
  • Products include: Kitchen: Northbrook style cabinetry in white from KraftMaid Cabinetry, Inc.; Stellar Night Silestone countertops with a bullnose edge and full backsplash; Kohler Co. Swerve kitchen sink (K-3153); Kohler Co. Essex faucet (K-8762-G); bottom basin rack; DuoStrainer; Kenmore 22.5-cu.-ft., SS side-by-side refrigerator with ice and water, SS Elite 24" dishwasher with Elite Wash, SS 42", dual-fuel, professional range and SS Elite 42" professional range hood; and 12x12, black and white tile from Dal-Tile with a 4x4 Carerra marble inlay from the original remodel; Powder room: Kohler Co. Camber console table and lavatory and tile from Dal-Tile; Master bath: Kohler Co. fixtures in biscuit and tile from Dal-Tile; and Main/Boys' bath: Kohler Co. fixtures in white; wall tile from DDG Designs; and 12x12 black floor tiles from Dal-Tile.
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