A Fort Collins couple revamps their empty nest to match their modern urban sensibilities.

Sometimes you fall in love with a town, a neighborhood, a vibe. You buy a home in the perfect location, and while the house isn’t perfect (that one weirdly angled closet will annoy you for years), it suits your needs at the time. “Maybe someday, we’ll remodel,” you say. This is the story of when someday arrived for a couple in northeast Fort Collins.

Because they loved their bucolic location, the homeowners worked with husband-and-wife team Cheri and Scott Freestone of Freestone Design-Build for a to-the-studs renovation instead of relocating to buy something new. “They’re in a space that has a country feel with lots of mature trees and an alfalfa field,” says Scott, co-owner and builder. “It’s in town but feels like it’s out of town.”

Once the homeowners decided to renovate, the builders set out to determine the couple’s goals for their three-bedroom ranch with a walkout basement. “Generally, the missus was dissatisfied with just about every aspect of the house—the textures, the finishes, the door—everything,” says Freestone. “‘Anything but this,’ was her feeling about the home.” The husband was more concerned with functionality than aesthetics, wanting a dining area for entertaining and family visits. “For him, it came back to increasing the usability of their house,” he says.

Enter Cheri , the design half of the husband-and-wife team. “The goal is always to understand the homeowners’ personality,” she says. “I try to be as unique as that person with finishes, style, and design, while also figuring out how they’re going to live and utilize that space.”

The result here is a stunning modern-urban blend that’s dramatically different from the home’s original outdated look and impractical design. Specialized touches throughout include updated wall finishes, custom tile, stainless and glass work, marble tile and countertops, a mix of acrylic and maple kitchen cabinets, a metal beam added for an industrial vibe and an entry door handcrafted from locally sourced silver maple. Cheri added floating shelves throughout the main level remodel to hold artwork from the couple’s travels and their KonMari-defying book collection.

“Smooth and sleek” are two words that come to mind when viewing the “after” photos of this remodel. Scott Freestone says that look began with something you might not immediately consider: wall texture. “The homeowner was adamant about wanting the cleanliness and aesthetic appeal of smooth coat drywall,” he says. This labor-intensive process involves sanding drywall to give it a smooth texture, which, unlike knockout textures common in Colorado, can show flaws more easily but has a more modern look and feel. Eurostyle Milarc kitchen cabinets in mixed materials—maple and acrylic—add to the mod vibe, with the surprising addition of marble countertops that might seem more at home in a Victorian but work seamlessly here.

Beautiful as the final results are, remodels are often about more than aesthetics. One issue the homeowners wanted to address was poor temperature control during sunny Colorado afternoons. Switching out the sliding glass doors and windows with more UV-resistant glass, removing the transom windows above the sliding doors and adding a shed roof over the deck to control the heat—“You couldn’t even go out there in the afternoon,” says Scott—solved that livability problem.

The dining room addition was another functional issue that renovation resolved. The old dining room was at the opposite end of the house, and that made no sense,” says Cheri. “That became a library and music room with built-ins because they had books everywhere,” she says. The new dining room is just off the kitchen and can now accommodate larger gatherings of family and friends. Because the dining room addition was above ground and supported by exterior posts, the builders added in-floor radiant heat—usually found in bathrooms—to the dining room floor and extended that into the kitchen to keep the addition from feeling cold. Finally, the custom flooring is finished to resemble concrete for an industrial look.

Another area that simply wasn’t working for the homeowners is what Cheri calls the “insanely dysfunctional” master bathroom. The cramped space held a tiny tub, compact shower and dated vanity. Cheri saw an opportunity to repurpose the master bedroom closet and craft a luxurious spa bathroom. An adjoining office became the new master bedroom closet and a spare bedroom took on office duty. “By opening a few walls and adjusting the floor plan, it became this master suite that’s to die for,” says Freestone. The new bathroom has a soaking tub, steamer shower and ample vanity space.

An extensive and customized remodel like this required patience as each custom-ordered piece came together, at times needing further adjustments to fit the existing space. But the homeowners, who lived on site in the finished basement, were happy with the result: a home that reflects who they are in this phase of their lives. “The coolest part was the night the cleaning company was finishing up,” says Cheri. “All the lights were on and I could see that sense of peace in the homeowners’ faces when the husband turned to me and said, ‘I cannot get over how many details come together.’”

Photography by Cassidy Hiseler
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