Remodeling a bathroom or kitchen comes with a mix of excitement and fear. You are excited because you feel like you are finally going to get the look and feel you have always dreamed of. You are fearful because there is a chance it is not going to be what you envisioned, and you are spending a lot of money. Now consider what it would feel like to gut the whole house, and you can imagine all the emotions homeowner Marcia Castro had when she started the process of turning her sub-1,000-square-foot Madison home into precisely what she wanted.

Fortunately, general contractor George Reynolds was with Marcia every step of the way. Though it is true that every job of this scale will have a general contractor, not every general contractor goes out of their way to assure their client that they are the most important part of the process. Marcia was directly involved with all the decision-making she wanted to be, and since George did everything piecemeal, Marcia better understood how each choice would affect the design going forward.

One of the most dramatic decisions was to eliminate the driveway entry in favor of making a much more functional kitchen with a large island where company can hang out. Before, the driveway entry had stairs immediately to the left. This meant the stairway would need to pivot 90 degrees toward the front door for access, and additional supports would need to be incorporated in the basement design.

Aside from the structural aspect of the remodel, the basement was going to get a full bathroom. “All the concrete in the bathroom had to come up to figure out the plumbing,” says George. The process itself took time, and Marcia bought a camper to live outside with her dogs while her house became a jobsite. This was all step one in achieving the ultimate goal of making the upstairs seem bigger.

Once the basement was completed, Marcia had a bedroom she could move into and enjoy her new soaking tub as work on the main level started. A chimney had been removed during the basement portion, which meant a support wall upstairs could be removed. Where once there was a hallway on the main level with a bathroom that led to the bedroom, there was now breathing room. The bathroom was moved to the corner, where it would be given a clean look complete with a doorless, low-entry shower. “The shower wall tile is unique in that it’s three different pattern tiles with no pattern in how it lays out,” says George.

Centerstage is the new spacious kitchen, a long “L” with a pony wall on the stair side and a view through a picture window of the park across the street. The refrigerator and gas stove add a contemporary splash of stainless steel to beautiful black Aqua Graintique countertops from Mosinee, Wisconsin (installed by Badger Granite Works). “I feel like I pushed for the countertops,” says George.

“You did,” says Marcia, “And I’m so glad.”

Cherry cabinets bring a warm, relaxing tone to a contemporary take on Mid-century Modern principles. There are some hidden touches that make the entire space more user friendly, like a hidden fold-up step ladder inside the pantry door. The longest drawer run, along the pony wall, is grain matched, and each drawer is tall and deep enough for easy storage and access to all of Marica’s pots and pans.

The island also features Aqua Grantiuqe’s black textured countertops and a practical flush-mount sink. Ample seating is illuminated under a reed glass light fixture, a motif carried through from the front door to the bathroom shower. “Marcia pointed out things she liked, and I helped carry those things through the project,” says George.

Other personal touches from Marcia include using old cedar siding that a friend’s parents had in their basement. Though the siding has some weathering and old nail holes, George was able to use it on the interior wall for the back entryway. He points out that “If you look between the gap, you can see the original paint. There’s blue still in the grain.”

George views his relationship with clients as “more a conversation than a contract.” Even if it is unrelated to the work he has done, George wants Marcia to feel confident in calling him whenever something does not work right in her house and to, as Marcia puts it, empower the homeowner. Thanks to George’s client philosophy, Marica ended up with a house specifically designed for her.

Kyle Jacobson is a writer/editor living in Sun Prairie.

Photographs by Courtney Terry.

George Reynolds

General Contractor
Phone: 262.297.2215