Eight years ago, Rachel Patocka and her husband, Tom, bought their family home from his parents. The ranch-style bungalow sits on a City acreage in a beautiful stretch of ravine wilderness. It was built in 1976, and though Rachel’s in-laws had made some changes to the home, the family decided it was time to update it and make spaces more functional for their family of four.
The first things on the chopping block were an obtrusive beam that was cramping everyone’s style, a relic of an accordion closet door, and wooden wall panels, Dukes of Hazard style!
First meeting: October 2014
Pre-planning began: January 2015
Renovation start date: April 4, 2015
Renovation completion date: August 30, 2015
DC/RR: What made you decide it was time to renovate?
RP: I’m an army brat, we moved every three years when I was growing up. I needed somewhere stable to call mine, to call home. We went to look at different places in our area, but only found more houses that needed updating, so we decided to stay put.
We knew what we wanted, and actually had begun work with a different contractor the year before. But it wasn’t good timing. They gave us one day to sign the contract and we felt rushed, so we just said no. When we met with Kendall and Sheldon, we just had a good feeling from the beginning.
DC/RR: Did you have a vision in mind from the beginning of what you wanted?
RP: We wanted to tie the rooms together; they were two opposing forces. I couldn’t wait to get rid of the brown wooden slats on the walls—it was like the Dukes of Hazard playhouse in here!
I wanted more room in the kitchen. It was a one-person workspace. I come from a family of eight siblings. When we all get together for the holidays, it has to be buffet style. I needed a big workspace and somewhere we can lay out dinner.
I also really wanted a boot room where we could store the girls’ winter clothes and sports equipment.
DC/RR: Did you run into any surprises during the renovation?
RP: The basement was always leaking because of the angle of the roof and vaulted ceiling above the dining area. That had to be fixed before they could start the renovation. I was worried it was going to put us really behind, but Sheldon and his team had it fixed and framed in 10 days and we were able to move on with the rest of the project.
The first question Tom calls with when he is working out of town and there has been a heavy rain storm (which there were many of this past summer!) was “Is the basement dry?”
It has been bone dry all year!
DC/RR: What were some of the most challenging decisions you had to make?
RP: Counter tops. It’s hard to know what it will look like when it is all laid out. You know you like a little square of flecks on a little square of quartzite countertop, but will you like a whole slab of flecks?
I also wanted frosted glass in the kitchen. There was a lot to choose from, but Kendall and I were able to wittle down the choices together.
DC/RR: What were some of the best decisions you made?
RP: Increasing R-value with spray-foam. It was worth the money—it’s cool in our house in the summer and warm in the winter. Also, the reclaimed wood features ties the rooms together, and the kitchen is the best part. Everything has a home in this kitchen. My oldest daughter also loves baking and making cakes, so we can do that together.
DC/RR: How long did the renovation take?
RP: We began the renovation on April 4th, 2015, and they handed over the keys on August 30th. They were finished ahead of schedule. We were settled into the house in time for the girls to get into routine for a new school year. It was wonderful!
DC/RR: Do you feel like you live differently in your home after the renovation?
RP: I love to read. I now have a quiet corner where I can sit and read by myself or with the girls and have lots of light and the space fits a comfy couch instead of two stiff chairs. And having room for a desk means I have somewhere to work and can keep the kids in my sights when they are doing their homework.
We were also able to keep the things that I always loved about the home, too, such as the exposed brick and the wood-burning fireplace. Every Christmas, the family goes tobogganing and comes back here for a big roaring fire. That was one thing I didn’t want to give up.
DC/RR: Any learnings along the way you want to share?
RP: Take everything in stride. I understand better the time frame for things, now, and that the work will get done.
Also, working with a contractor who will do the planning and work up front is key to being done on time. We had all the tile and floor and materials lined up for an April start date. That took the pressure off the timeline. The renovation was finished early. And that never happens.
I found having a designer on board during renovation immensely useful with it being our first one. Kendal’s keen eye, construction knowledge, and organization helped keep me sane. It also helped that she seemed to be able to visualize what I would like for our home. Kendall was a great liaison to have, and also extremely helpful with keeping us within our budget but still including things that we may not have thought of. She also ensured that communication was streamlined so that everyone was on the same page.
I feel like Diamond and Revolving Rooms has a vision for the rest of the home when we renovate it. It’s great to know we will be in good hands when the time comes.
For more photos from the Patocka residence make-over, go to: