Looking Good After 21 Years

Jan and Gary’s Minnetonka house was built in 1960 and they had called it home for the past 21 years. Tomco Company remodeled the kitchen and dining room, banished the pink main bath and created a proper basement suite for their returning grad student daughter. They love it so much they expect to retire in place someday. But for now they are focused on celebrating the new space with family and friends over the holidays.

Minnetonka Kitchen Remodel

As with so many ‘60s homes, the original kitchen was small and closed off and the old basement bathroom was crude. There also was the matter of that pink tile and fixtures. We started with the lower level remodeling to give the family a reasonable retreat during the main level project. We converted the area that had been occupied by the old basement bathroom into a walk-in closet for the bedroom. Then we repurposed the old laundry/workshop area for a three-quarter bath with a nice ceramic tile shower and an adjustable hand shower.

Meanwhile, Jan had a full list of upgrades she wanted upstairs, starting with removing the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. The new, open kitchen/dining area would get white, ceiling-height cabinets, a built-in china cabinet, an accessible pantry with pullout shelves, a convenient drawer-style microwave, dramatic granite counters, lots of LED lighting, LVT flooring and new windows. Then the double-vanity main bath received a complete makeover with a sturdy vertical grab bar in the custom-tiled tub shower.

After bracing the ceiling to eliminate chronic cracking, we replaced the dated popcorn finish with a classy knockdown effect. We also patched the red oak flooring and applied a clear finish for a light, updated look.

We did the space planning and heavy lifting but Jan and Gary took the lead with surfaces. They chose Titanium granite countertops and travertine tile backsplashes.

Gary and Jan considered Tomco because they liked the work we had done at the homes of two close friends. Now they have their own reason to recommend us. Hear Jan share her Tomco remodeling experience in her own words in the video.

Tomco Company
1425 Andover Blvd. NW AndoverMN55304 USA 
 • 763-434-1522

Over-the-top Thinking Avoids Post & Beam

When Tim and Amy Wysocki were ready for their third remodeling project since 2005 this year, they again contacted Tomco Company. The New Brighton couple was confident they could count on Tom Schiebout for quality work and a fair price. But this kitchen remodeling experience brought something extra.

Open kitchen

Tom had both designed and built their addition in 2005 and remodeled their master suite after that. He also had replaced all of their windows and most of their interior millwork. For this latest project, their friend who primarily designs commercial spaces had developed the remodeling plan as a gift. His concept was to remove two walls of the narrow galley kitchen and install a peninsula bar and ceiling height cabinets.

Instead of installing a post at the end of the long bar for a dropped beam to support the ceiling, Tom suggested placing the beam above the bottom chord of the attic trusses. That made possible a continuous, unbroken great room ceiling that spans the kitchen, dining area and living room. I can tell you from experience. You walk in the front entry and think, “Wow. This space is really big.”

Creative Problem-Solvers

It’s one thing to install a 22-foot-long engineered lumber beam when building a house with easy access for equipment. Getting one into place in an existing home is lot tougher. Yet it was just another day in the life of the resourceful Tomco crew. The solution? Cut a hole in the end gable of the attic and slide the 18-in.-tall  beam through the truss chords until the end rested on new bearing posts in the remaining walls. Then secure the bottom chords to the beam with special engineered hangers and install a broad patch in the ceiling drywall to help prevent future cracking.

Most people judge remodeling projects based on how they look and function. This hidden, over-the-top beam is a great example of why what you don’t see can be just as important. When I ask homeowners what they like least about their open floor plans they often point to an awkward post or dropped beam that breaks the view. Thanks to Tomco Company, these clients are spared.

Voice of Experience

After three major remodeling projects with Tomco Company, the Wysockis have some advice for fellow homeowners.

  • If you have strong feelings about a design feature, hold your ground. Amy knew she wanted dark cabinets with a distressed finish. “Black is the new gray,” Tom later agreed.
  • When the contractor strongly recommends something from experience, listen to him. “I’m so happy Tom talked us out of keeping the old drop-in sink and faucet,” Amy offered.
  • Make sure the features work for you. Tim loves the combination electrical/USB outlets at the counter between the refrigerator and the garage. And everyone likes the custom side-mounted spice cabinet built-in to the left of the refrigerator.

Drawing the Line on Master Suite Remodeling

One of the biggest questions when remodeling or creating a master bedroom suite often is where to draw the line. Expanding into adjacent spaces literally comes at a price. It’s important to ask yourselves. What is the resale impact from eliminating a small, unused bedroom? Will we achieve the right storage space where we need it? Will the new floor plan’s traffic flow and sight lines make sense?

This master project, which we recently completed in Anoka, illustrates a number of carefully considered choices. The old suite’s bathroom was too small and broken up and failed to take advantage of the scenic Mississippi River view. “There wasn’t even a place to put a scale on the floor,” the owner recalled. The suite also lacked a must-have walk-in closet, and furniture encroached on the sleeping area.

Call it robbing Peter to pay Paul, but Tomco Company managed to achieve all of the clients’ needs by simply reallocating the space and reorienting the new fixtures. In the process, we also enhanced the home’s universal design/aging in place appeal.

Start in the hall

We started by redesigning the tight, L-shaped hall to incorporate master bedroom and home office doors on clipped corners. A small bedroom was repurposed into a large master bedroom closet and a small home office. Meanwhile, the bathroom expanded into the old closet area to create a bigger space that features a larger shower, double vanity and more discrete toilet. We also incorporated built-in storage cabinets to eliminate bedroom furniture and make better use of a hall wall. And a slight expansion of the main bathroom made it more functional and beautiful.

Custom doors envisioned by the client played a leading role in the distinctive design. Narrow French doors were used for the walk-in closet and the office. The closet door features mirrored glass panels, while the office entry employs clear glass panels to spread natural light.

As built plan

BEFORE

 

Proposed Plan

AFTER

 

Andover DIYrs Discover Benefits of Hiring Tomco Company Pros

Ted and Chris Moore photo

Ted and Chris Moore

Ted and Chris Moore are avid do it yourselfers. The Andover couple built their deck, installed hardwood flooring, reoriented the kitchen island and painted their house. But when it came time to remodel their master bathroom this year, they hired Tomco Company.

They wanted professional quality tiling, electrical and plumbing and an experienced general contractor to coordinate the various tradesmen and complete the project on time and on budget. With Tom Schiebout and Tomco Company they got both.

The Moores still were intimately involved in choosing design elements and features. For instance, Chris saw a cabinet on Pinterest with a cream colored case and natural wood doors and drawer faces stained different colors and accented by a mixture of pulls and handles. It was just the personal touch she wanted for her own master bath. Tom recommended knotty alder and designer Carol Klein consulted on selections.

The Moores also had their own ideas about the shower. Although clear glass shower doors are popular, the busy couple preferred an easy-care curtain to preclude having to squeegee after every use. And Ted had to have a built-in radio with good antenna and hardwired speakers over  shower and  the soaking tub (for sports talk radio, not singing).

Chris admits she needs one more thing to make her new bathroom complete – a clock. “I like the bathroom so much, I find myself lingering and lose track of time,” she confessed.

The couple also appreciated an unexpected advantage of hiring the pros. The large vanity cabinet wouldn’t fit through the bedroom door. So the Tomco crew raised it on scaffolding and brought it in through a second story window. DIYrs — Don’t try this yourselves at home!

For Life! Lessons in Successful Remodeling

Tomco Company  takes pride in being your contractor for life.  Gary and Kristin Johnson are proof it works. They hired Tomco Company for the first remodeling project 13 years ago. Since then Tom Schiebout and his crew have been back several times for additional interior and exterior projects. They finished the most recent in the past month.

The New Brighton couple says they choose Tomco because they are confident the work will be done right and will last. They count on excellent craftsmanship, forward-looking design, clear communication and considerate workers every time. That’s far more important to them than possibly saving a little money on a less experienced remodeler.

“You can’t save enough money to make a failed project a good investment, so we hire Tom.” Kristin explained.

Like many couples, Gary and Kristin have their own priorities. Kristin is keenly focused on how the space will look and feel. Gary dives into the details of how stuff will work and perform over time. “Tom really explains things in fine detail. Sometimes I just wanted to know it will look pretty,” Kristin admits. One thing she and Gary agree on is that every project should use quality materials that will stand the test of time.

The Johnsons value Tom’s design advice too, even when some suggestions exceed the budget and must wait for a later phase to be executed. They also appreciate Tomco’s ability to seamlessly blend new surfaces and old, such as when Tom’s  bricklayer finished the side of the original fireplace after removing the closet.

Over the years, Tomco has remodeled the Johnsons’ kitchen, three bathrooms, the interior stairway, the living room, the main entry and even the front elevation and hardscaping. Each time, the updates made the environment both look and perform better.

Portico and stairway enhance curb appeal, safety and function

The home sits high on a sloped lot. Kristin said the plain, flat two-story front made it look like a giant box. There also was the matter of the steep stairway that hugged the house from the tuck under garage to the small, exposed stoop. Tom re-sided the entire house, carefully balancing different textures and paint colors to add character to the flat surface. He also designed an open portico with a long curved concrete stairway, custom wrought iron rail and multi-level retaining wall to provide three-dimensional curb appeal The portico and its larger stoop also improve safety and create welcoming shelter for guests.

“Porticos can make a huge difference. Often, cities will allow them even if they encroach on the zoning for front-yard setback because they improve safety,” Tom explained.

Tomco: Take down that wall!

Once inside the entry, Tom removed a tiny coat closet that faced the main door an arm’s length away to open the space, expose the handsome see-through Chicago brick fireplace and increase natural light. He also removed the far living room wall so sunlight streams in from three directions and added recessed LED lighting.

“The living room used to be so dark. We plan to stay here after retirement so we wanted it to be more cheerful. With the wall and closet removed and the new lighting, it is so much brighter,” Kristin remarked.

Houzz-inspired custom railing

When Kristin wanted a distinctive railing to go with their new birch stairway, Tom encouraged her to look for ideas on Houzz. She spotted a modern design that would complement the light hardwood flooring, and Tom had the same company that did the outside railing fabricate it to fit.

The old stairways had solid knee walls at the top that blocked light and created a tunnel effect. Now light streams in from every angle.

Remodeling remedies hidden flaws

Perhaps the biggest improvement to the Johnson home is barely visible. While doing demolition for the bathroom makeovers, Tom discovered water dripping from the attic where another contractor had built an addition many years ago. The new perpendicular ridge had created a poorly ventilated space. With warm moist area rising from below, the inside of the gable wall resembled a glacier, Tom recalls.

Tom solved the problem by sealing all the attic air leaks around cables and pipes, insulating and windblocking the eaves with expanding foam and installing continuous ridge and soffit vents.

It’s not surprising that the Johnsons have referred Tomco to family, friends and neighbors. Although Tom has remodeled kitchens for two of their referrals, they’re all different. “Each project suits the house and reflects the personality and tastes of the owners,” Kristin said.