Nestled in Salt Lake’s east bench, this home and family have undergone 2 home renovations with Renovation Design Group and Matt Russell and Co. Shortly after marrying, the homeowners decided to accommodate their blended family by taking on an extensive home renovation. When I asked why remodel instead of move, the answer was easy–location. But location wasn’t the only factor; they loved their house and neighbors as well. The quick ability to problem solve was especially noted when discussing their experience with Annie Schwemmer, AIA. “Annie was fantastic and able to understand what we wanted”. The working relationship between Annie the architect, and Matt Russell, the contractor made for a smooth home remodel that was complete in 2010. The only thing the homeowners would have changed would have been to add overhangs to the home to redirect rainfall, which they did later.

(2010 remodel with Renovation Design Group and Russell & Co.)


Shortly before the height of a global pandemic, the homeowners reached out to Annie again. This time they wanted to add a custom indoor pool to the back of the house, as well as reconfigure the back yard and create an outdoor space to gather with friends and family. After a 3 year back and forth with the city to gain a permit, it was a go. However, inflation, backorders, supply chain, all of the direct effects from the Covid 19 outbreak made this second remodel more challenging than their first project and lengthier as well. When I asked the homeowners, if they would have done it differently or waited, they simply said no. The reality of timing and uncontrollable circumstances could not have been predicted, and they are happy they pushed the go button on their second phase.


Beautiful and complete, the pool has improved the quality of life for both homeowners. Used daily for physical and mental health, they are thrilled with this addition to their home. An unplanned perk to the pool is the loss of grass in the backyard which eliminates the need for watering in our drought prone state. Adding the covered outdoor dining area was a thoughtful way to gather a crowd protected from the elements and also created a safe space to entertain during the pandemic.


When asked what advice they would give to someone considering a remodel, they both had valuable suggestions to offer:  It’s a big undertaking to go through a home remodel and the homeowners stressed having patience, but also having fun with it. Being realistic about cost is important and they suggested not to let the bumps in the process derail your decision to remodel, as it is an investment in the quality of your life. A key experience they shared had to do with the decision to hire an architect. Unsure at first, hiring an architect to design their remodel proved to be more valuable than they had thought. Annie’s ideas, knowledge, and experience gave the homeowners confidence in moving forward with their remodel, not once but twice.


The homeowners continued to make improvements in their home well after the first big renovation was complete. Investing in their home was clearly an investment in their life and the lives of their children. As an added bonus, the value of the house has gone up, but the most important benefit of the remodel is its immeasurable contribution to their family’s lifestyle. They are very happy in their “new” home surrounded by neighbors they love.

East Bench Gem

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