Trading places

After their children were grown, a couple in Highland, Utah, took an interest in main floor living. They tired of climbing a staircase to reach their master bedroom, but no room on the ground floor was large enough to remodel into a full suite. After searching for a new house, the homeowners were drawn back to the advantages of their current location — more than two acres of land that backed up to a community park, extensive landscaping and ownership of an adjacent vacant lot. The couple engaged an architect and Magleby Construction in Lindon, Utah, to help them create a master bedroom on the main floor.

Craig Hassel, vice president of Remodel at Magleby, was the superintendent on the job. “The plan was to convert the existing garage into the master suite and then build a new, larger garage on the vacant lot and shift the property line to include the new garage,” Hassel recalls.

Multiuse space

The master suite in the former garage includes a bathroom with a large shower and soaking tub with a separate area for the toilet, a walk-in closet and custom cherry wood cabinetry. The new garage was intended to serve many purposes. The owner wanted a “clean” garage reserved for two cars but also desired a larger space to protect additional items. The solution was a 30-ft.-long divided structure, oriented with the two-car garage facing the road while two additional garage door openings were placed on the far side to access the back space. Below half the structure, under a suspended slab, a new staircase leads to a finished basement that stores the owner’s craft items.

The split through the structure continues above the garage, on a second level. An apartment over the longer section of the garage contains a kitchenette and dining space, living room, bedroom and bath to accommodate out-of-town family or friends. The area above the two-car garage section is a playroom for grandchildren on visit. The new garage is attached to the house so family members can easily move between the structures without going outside.

Improvements to the existing house include an expansion of the kitchen and formal dining room 8 ft. out of the back of the home. “The owners noticed everyone congregated in the kitchen during family gatherings, and the current space wasn’t well configured for that,” notes Hassel. “We created a completely new kitchen, and the owner is a gourmet chef so she takes full advantage of all the new amenities.”

All new appliances are highlighted by a copper hood over the range with a special oak tree design inlaid in the backsplash tiles. Two islands support food preparation and socializing. The center island’s wooden surface disguises storage drawers below. The second island’s granite countertop offers additional work space, a small sink, a second dishwasher, and sitting area on the opposite side to allow family members to linger over breakfast or chat with the cook.

A full pantry room is camouflaged as kitchen cabinet doors. French doors lead outside to a patio and barbecue area. The formal dining room also opens to the back of the house, and a closing pocket door separates it from the kitchen into a dedicated, elegant space. Combined with the new master suite, the remodel doubled the size of the former 6,000-sq.-ft. home to 12,000 sq. ft.

Deficiencies uncovered

The original house was built in 1988. Upgrading the electrical wiring and adding insulation would have required a significant patch job through the home’s thick layers of wallpaper so Magelby chose to remove the drywall and gut the main floor down to the studs. In the process, they discovered structural problems.

“A main floor beam that supported much of the structural load had been undersized and was bending under the stress,” Hassell explains. “Also, the circular staircase was not properly supported because of a poor connection to the framing system on the upper floor. In the end, stripping the walls for the wiring and insulation allowed us to fix a lot of unforeseen problems.”

Magelby added a new support beam to fix the sloping floor. They temporarily supported the floor with hydraulic bottle jacks to lift up the center of the structure. Because the drywall had sagged throughout the years, lifting the structure into place caused sheetrock damage on the upper floors. The team repaired sheetrock and doors in conjunction with the rest of the remodeling work to keep the schedule intact.

Defining touches

Masterpiece Millwork and Door, a Magleby Millwork division, provided custom carpentry throughout the home. In the family room, new cabinets on each side of the fireplace include carved oak leaf detailing and steel oak leaf pulls as a nod to the many native oak trees on the property. For the second fireplace located in the formal living room, Magleby built the mantel on site and redid all the room’s moulding and millwork. The Mill also custom-produced the cherry wood and glass entry door.

New yellow honeycomb tile in the bathroom inspired the owner toward a bumblebee motif. She had Magleby custom-etch bees buzzing near their hive into the tile to lend identity and charm to the room.

Outside, a 20- by 40-ft. sport pool was added behind the house, which includes a curved slide and two-tiered waterfall. The concrete paver pool deck also serves as the base for a timber-framed pergola and a hot tub that’s halfway submerged below ground level.

On the far side of the new garage, Magleby crafted a stone fireplace and a recirculating waterfall that trails down the hillside over Brown’s Canyon limestone. One large rock became a bridge across the water to access the fireplace, helping to blend the new features into their natural surroundings. QR


KJ Fields writes from Portland, Ore., about remodeling and design.