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Opening Up the Home

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It was 2009 and the market had collapsed. Kathy and Scott Schroeder knew it would be a good time for them to buy a larger house. They were ready to get out of the condo they had owned for the past few years. With three teenage sons, they needed more space.

When they found the perfect house, up Anglers Court, their first move was to do just that – create more space. In 2010 they began the first of two renovations on their new house. At first, it was just adding bedrooms to the lower floor where their sons would be sleeping. When they bought the house, there were three small bedrooms on the lower level, only one of them with an ensuite bath. They wanted to create a living room space for their sons to “hang out”, as teenagers do, so they tore down the walls of one of the bedrooms to create a living room. Then, with the extra space, they added two more bedrooms, each with its own bathroom attached. The end result was a downstairs with four bedrooms, each with an attached bath, a living room with a large TV and small kitchen area. Plus, adding the extra bedrooms created more space for an outdoor patio.

The family lived in their newly renovated house for seven years until the next renovation. It started with the two-sided fireplace, on the main level, which was in the middle of the room and separated the kitchen from the living room.

“Scott wanted to move it to the living room where it wouldn’t be blocking everything. That was the ONLY thing we were going to do!” Kathy exclaims, “but then we thought ‘well, there’s dust already. What else do we want to do?’”

That question sparked a massive remodel of the entire house. Scott was the brains behind the idea and designs, but the couple hired architect Eric Smith to oversee the plans and make sure they were structurally feasible.

“The main goal with this project was to create a more open, connected floor plan,” Smith says. With that in mind, they moved forward with their second renovation.

They started with the front of the house which had a stone façade and long, thin posts holding up the roof over the front door. Changing the dated stone to wood and painting all of the cream window casings a darker color created a more modern design. Landscaper Phil Steinhauer of Design Scapes pulled up dozens of overgrown shrubs and trees.

“You could barely see the house,” he remembers, “the idea was to get rid of anything that wasn’t necessary and open up the front of the house.”

Inside, they continued to open up. The kitchen was dark with small windows and a low ceiling, so this was the next area that they focused their attention on. They raised the ceiling and pushed one of the walls out four feet from top to bottom. Moving this wall on all levels not only opened up the kitchen (it added 80 square feet) but also increased the size of two downstairs bathrooms and allowed for a larger space for the master bath above. It also created cleaner roof lines so that the exterior of the house looked better, with fewer sharp angels and lines.

Above the oven, they put a custom, hand painted hood which compliments the island in the center of the kitchen and serves to draw the eye through the kitchen and up to the ceiling. Robin Campbell at Olivia’s Home Furnishings oversaw the interior design of the house.

“Our goal was to reuse what we could, like cabinets,” she explains, “but we wanted to update things a bit and make it more modern. We tried to keep the mountain home feeling but bring in some southern charm, since the owners are from Texas.”

They did this by softening the colors and using more blues and grays as opposed to the more traditional, darker mountain colors. They reused the dining room table but painted the base white to make it more modern and fun and picked out new, patterned dining room chairs. Campbell wanted to house to feel relaxed and slightly playful, like being on vacation.

Other additions included a window nook in the living room with two chairs perfect for reading in the sun or sharing a glass of wine. The downstairs powder room got an accent wall, a new sink, great mirror and a modern light fixture.

The entry way and staircase were the next to go. Walls were torn down to open up the entry way so that when arriving at the house, you walk into a bright, airy, high ceiling-ed room.

“At this point, we were all in,” Kathy says, “so we kept going, fixing anything that we didn’t like or that wasn’t functional to how we were living.”

When they bought the house, there was a mudroom off the garage which served as a multi-purpose room with a dog wash, pantry and desk. It wasn’t functional even with all its purposes. So they floored part of the two story entry way to create a study on the upper level outside of the master bedroom. That moved the desk out of the mudroom. They took the dog wash out but left the dog’s bed. Now the room is solely a mudroom with dark wood cabinets and shelving and a blue and white tile floor that Kathy picked out because she thought it looked like snowflakes – the perfect small detail for a mountain town mudroom.

Walk upstairs and you are in the new study area with the large desk that was previously taken out of the mudroom. This leads to the master bedroom which has incredible views of both Howelsen Hill and the ski mountain. The owners tore down a few more walls and put a fireplace where the closet used to be. “It was just funky up here,” is how Kathy describes it. The bedroom leads to a large, bright master bathroom as well as a plush walk in closet and immaculate laundry room.

The last thing they decided to do was put a cover on the outdoor deck. Step outside, and it’s clear why they came to this decision as the wind whips by.

“Our umbrella was always flying off the deck,” Kathy remembers, “and our furniture was everywhere.” She worried that putting a roof on top would make the space feel like a cave, but Eric Smith stepped in again to create tall wooden posts for the cover so that the ceiling is functional but not obtrusive. Now their deck furniture stays put, even in the high winds, and they are protected from the hot sun in the summer.

Over the edge of the deck, there is a manicured lawn below, a sunken hot tub and two areas for sitting outside and admiring the view, as one does in a mountain town. There used to be a pond which Kathy describes as a “maintenance nightmare” and when their oldest son had a daughter, they decided to remove it.

“The idea behind the landscaping,” Steinhauer explains, “was to make it very low maintenance since this is a second home – but to still have it be beautiful when the family and guests are there.”

One day, after months of renovation and remodel, the house was finished. 1000 square feet had been added, higher ceilings and bigger windows let more light in, and it finally felt like a beautiful, modern mountain home. And while the owners live in Houston, they are frequently in Steamboat, enjoying their “new” house.

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