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Lose a Little, Gain a Lot

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Repurpose Spaces without Changing your

Home's Footprint

By: Kevin Mond, Principal

HDR Remodeling

Residents of the East Bay—an area with some of the most expensive real estate in the nation—are increasingly looking for ways to maximize every square inch of their valuable properties. Sometimes you have to lose a little to gain a lot. We’re not suggesting any risky financial “investments” here. No: We’re talking about a savvy, tangible, even life-changing investment in improving your home. 


HDR Remodeling recently completed several kitchen, bath, and entire-home remodeling projects that artfully reimagined existing or underutilized rooms into intentionally designed, purposeful spaces that add functionality and modern-day versatility. They even built an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that preserved an ancient coastal redwood. 


As is often the case with older East Bay homes, there were significant structural issues to address, like correcting for a floor that was six inches out of level, and the inevitable dry rot and termite damage, or a game of structural Jenga where all load-bearing walls were removed and replaced with natural wood beams. This all had to be handled with care and ingenuity. 

HDR Remodeling is a Berkeley-based design-build firm. Their philosophy involves listening carefully to clients’ needs and desires, solving structural problems, and then utilizing creative design solutions to maximize functionality and joy in the finished project. 


Their Construction Team—the behind-the-scenes problem solvers and heroes of the design-build industry—make HDR Remodeling’s Design Team shine. 


Clients turn to HDR Remodeling for their expertise in technically challenging residential remodel projects and for their experience in navigating local municipalities’ permitting processes.

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Panama Kitchen, Richmond, California

The owners of a small 1928 Richmond residence wanted to convert their home’s inefficient floor plan—a mixture of small rooms, including an outdated kitchen and cramped storage spaces—into an inviting open concept with lots of room for entertaining. 


To accomplish this, load-bearing walls had to be removed and structural issues solved; now 8”x16” natural wood beams span the spaces previously supported by walls. The result is a modern, light-filled home with versatile and convivial communal spaces and a well-appointed chef’s kitchen at the heart of it all.  


The structural support beams allowed for longer spans and a more open plan while elevating the interior aesthetic and harmonizing the natural muted palette, based on the home’s original refinished oak floors.

Sacramento Kitchen, Berkeley, California

A terrifically timeless kitchen in this 1930s-era Berkeley home was expanded by shifting the cooking space into what was once an underutilized office. The reconfiguration also served to accommodate additional remodeling projects within the home, including a magnificent bathroom in the primary en suite bedroom.


Degraded by years of moisture damage and dry rot, the home’s floor was more than six inches out of level. As such, the house first had to be put on solid footing before the cause of the water damage could be corrected. Using a French drain, water would be directed away from the house’s foundation to alleviate future drainage issues.


The new kitchen—sunny and spacious—offers an efficient cooking area with ample counter space and a dine-in island topped with Carrara marble. Black matte finishes accent exquisite custom cabinetry, finished in an unexpectedly wonderful shade of Farrow & Ball “De Nimes” blue. 


The improvements gained by reconfiguring this floor plan more than made up for the loss of a cramped, underused office. Moreover, the kitchen and formal dining room have begun dating again and appear to be enjoying their immediate proximity.

Montclair ADU, Oakland, California

With loosening restrictions about Accessory Dwelling Units, everybody seems to be “ADU-ing.” The clients for this ADU project were a commercial architect and interior designer.


A tiny dilapidated shed was transformed into a cozy light-filled guesthouse, rebuilt to maximize space and natural light—and to preserve a 150-foot redwood tree. 


Roofed in red tile, the rectangular guesthouse is tucked underneath this sentinel redwood and provides a tranquil environment in a Coastal Northern California context. The construction team meticulously worked around the ancient conifer, careful not to cut or disturb its roots. 


This modest building boasts exquisite finishes, high-end flooring and furnishings, and a convenient modern-day Murphy Bed for versatility—affording added room in daytime.

Chabot Home Remodel, Oakland, California

What started as a window and re-roofing project on a 1920s-era Oakland home soon morphed into something bigger once the extent of the structural damage was assessed—complete with dry rot and water and termite damage. 


For most folks, the enormity of the project would prompt initial despair. But these clients embraced it—and they went big. It was well past the time to invest in improving their 101-year-old home. 


After the significant structural aspect of the home repair was completed and corrected, an additional 700 square feet of living space was borrowed from the basement. Slightly below grade, this wonderfully private bedroom suite provides direct access to the outdoors. Now protected from flooding using French drain technology, the interior space of the home was ultimately expanded by a third without changing the original footprint.


The construction team brought their years of experience and collaborative problem-solving skills to bear for this huge structural undertaking. 


“Our project was quite massive for a relatively small Rockridge home. In 2017 we bought a 2 bed, 1 bathroom, 1500 sqft, split-story home that had significant damage requiring remedy (which we were fully aware of upon purchase!). 


“Roughly 1 year later, we moved back into our 3 bed, 2 bath, 1900 sqft home with the polish and preferences we always dreamed of.“

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