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Remodel Revival

Home renovation has been a popular trend amid the influx of newcomers during the pandemic

By Colton Martini
All images by Gibeon Photography.

The Flathead Valley is home to endless rivers and waterways, and yet another tributary has emerged in the form of a steady stream of new residents and homebuyers. People are arriving in pandemic proportions in hopes of owning a little piece of Montana to call their own. 

With all of this economic growth, developable land and building materials have become somewhat scarce. In lieu of new construction, existing homes are increasingly desirable as newcomers seek to move in more quickly with the ultimate intent of modifying the houses to fit their tastes. 

The benefit of buying a home with the intent to remodel, or even remodeling a home you’ve owned for years, is that the space can be lived in prior to construction. A homeowner can feel out what does and doesn’t work from a function perspective, and make adjustments accordingly. There’s also the benefit of acquiring a more developed design perspective and then implementing that for a more cohesive level of completion. An existing footprint may pose a challenge, but it also engenders creativity.

While remodels are a great way to find a home and get the design-build process moving more quickly, homeowners can’t avoid the industry’s overall slowdown. Lead times for products and materials still lag behind pre-pandemic availability. 

Originally built by Denman Construction in Whitefish, the homeowners of this jewel-box Iron Horse residence didn’t have to search long when they were choosing a contractor: Denman Construction. 

“It’s always much smoother to do remodels with the original builders,” jokes Heidi Tate of Tate Interiors in Whitefish.

Focusing on the views and working from a solid foundation in the existing hardwood floors, designer Anne Ambrosino of Tate Interiors set her sights immediately on the kitchen. A Tate Interiors favorite material, quartzite, was chosen to replace the existing countertops, paired with a complementary backsplash. New crown molding was also added to the existing cabinets. Materials were carefully chosen, and Ambrosino monitored the project closely to make sure the existing and new finishes blended seamlessly. 

Space management and creative use of space are integral in remodeling, which means it’s important to consider the spaces and how they are used. Ambrosino and the Tate Interiors team listened to their client’s specific needs. Though there was already a bunkroom in the home, the existing space was much larger than they needed. Ambrosino proposed converting the existing gym space into the now stylish bunkroom, while the former bunkroom was converted into a much-needed secondary-primary suite. Space was taken from the existing laundry to allow for an additional bathroom to service the new suite. Understated Ann Sacks terrazzo-style tile lines the wall of the monochromatic shower for a timeless, albeit splashy, flourish.

The exterior received extensive work as well, including a complete redirect of the siding material. Montana Timber Products was used as a thoughtful tie-in to the surrounding trees and a tip of the hat to the traditional building materials found in Montana.

A remodel isn’t always about the big things; sometimes it’s as simple as repainting the space to get an entirely new vibe. A fresh coat of paint acts as, in an instant, a new canvas to subtly update any area that might be feeling a little tired. Other changes that Ambrosino worked out with the homeowners included new carpet, window coverings, plumbing fixtures and lighting. Ambrosino said their mantra at Tate Interiors when selecting new furniture and accessories is to choose things that “complement but don’t compete.” She added that the views should be the primary focus rather than the individual pieces in the home.

The key to a successful renovation isn’t just getting it to the finish line but creating a space that feels like it was always there. Although the Tate Interiors team was able to get this done in just six months, the home feels like it was constructed from the ground up and has a taste level that rivals any new construction project. 

“The most successful remodels,” Heidi Tate said, “are those that embrace the existing architecture and finishes while breathing new life into it at the same time.” 

Colton Martini studied architecture at Montana State University. He is a practicing interior designer in Whitefish and Missoula and can be reached at (406) 480-2375, coltmartini@mac.com and www.ColtonMartini.com. 

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