Meet Bruce and Nicole Caldwell.

The Caldwells are in the middle of a remodeling project to transform their 1950s East Millcreek ranch from its traditional style to a rustic, Southwestern style all their own.

Usually, we feature clients in this column with finished projects, but for a change we have decided to follow the Caldwells through their remodeling experience with a series of columns along the way.

By way of introduction, Bruce, who works on the artistic staff of Ballet West, grew up in the East Millcreek area and relocated there with his wife eight years ago.

They love the locale, the mountain views and the low traffic neighborhood. Now, with their 6-year-old daughter accepted into a local charter school, there is one more reason to stay.

“As soon as we moved in we thought about expanding,” Bruce says. “The house wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but we felt it had potential.”

After a few years of personally planning their remodeling ideas, they came to Renovation Design Group to plan the project. They were decisive clients and knew what they wanted. They have a distinct style in their interior design. They have collected art items for their décor, such as an old, rustic radio.

Now with this remodel they are making their house match their design style. They plan to transform the traditional brick exterior with a stucco coating, a metal roof, rough cedar accents and new, larger windows. The home will have a rustic feel with lots of natural light.

After the initial visit with the architects, the timing wasn’t right for the Caldwells. With the economy and the fall in the housing market, they put the project on hold for about five years.

However, they recently revisited the original plans and returned to the architect to make some alterations.

Rustic Southwestern in Millcreek

Rustic Soutwestern 2
The Caldwells are planning to transform their traditional brick rambler in the East Millcreek area into a rustic, Southwestern ranch.

“You can sit there and envision your ideas all you want, but until you talk to a professional your vision doesn’t have all the facts,” Bruce says.

“In your mind it is just a little addition. When you get the facts it could go from a little add-on to something more overwhelming. Meeting with the architects we discovered in order to make our addition harmonious we were going to have to go with a first floor tear down.”

In the Caldwell’s case, when it comes to square footage, their project is considered small. They are going taller, but overall the house will not be much bigger than it is now.

The finished project will be about 2,500 square feet, including the existing basement, which will remain unchanged. They are only adding a few hundred square feet to the master suite, as well as enclosing and slightly enlarging the existing carport, which will become the new living room.

They are adding large windows in the addition, as well as a series of clerestory windows at the ridge of the roof over the dining/kitchen area. Some of the roof will be vaulted to gain added volume and light in the interior.

While we all thought of this project as an addition, when we sat down to create the demolition plan, we discovered that almost all of the exterior walls would be new. Everything except the west wall is going down.

In addition, many of the interior walls are going to be removed or relocated to provide the new open plan, and obviously the roof would be all new.

At that point, from a construction standpoint, it made more sense to tear down to the main floor and rebuild all the walls.

For the most part, the main level will have the same functions as the existing house. The main floor will still have two bedrooms and one bathroom. The kitchen and the bathrooms will all remain in the same spot, though they will be rebuilt and modernized. The master bedroom, dining room and living room will all be increased in size.

The only thing that will be added to the main floor is a mudroom/laundry room. The finished basement will remain untouched, as will the existing stairs.

So, at this point, the construction drawings are completed and have been submitted to the local zoning department for review. Upon obtaining the permit, demolition is scheduled for April.

The only surprise as of yet for the Caldwells is the cost of permits. This amount is based on a percentage of the projected project cost, and it varies with each municipality. This fee pays for the initial review, as well as for periodic inspections during the construction process and can run into the thousands of dollars.

Watch for future column on the Caldwell’s project. Be patient; remember remodeling is a long process. After such an successful design process, we can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group,, a local firm specializing in home remodels.

Renovation Solutions: East Millcreek remodel aims for rustic, Southwestern look