courtesy Stronghold Remodeling

Nestled in the foothills of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, this home offers a sweeping view of the city of Boise. The owners inherited the 1960s house and turned to Stronghold Remodeling, of Boise, to both enhance the outdoor spaces to fit their lifestyle and to reconfigure the interior to create a better flow for entertaining.

The remodel involved removing walls between the kitchen, dining room, and living room, and connecting those spaces to the backyard. The living room was extended by several feet, so it now opens to a new covered porch. The kitchen/dining area’s sliding glass doors lead to an outdoor cooking area, and the new entertaining areas fit in a semicircle around the original pool.

Warm & Cozy

A modest 110-square-foot addition along the back of the living room improves the connection to the outdoors and to the new gable-roof porch.

The land slopes steeply away from the end of the porch, so the building department required that Stronghold Remodeling consult a soil engineer. The conditions dictated deeper, wider footings for the porch columns than anticipated, says project manager Craig Nelson. Even though the hollow fiberglass posts were load-bearing, due to the wind uplift on the property, Nelson placed 6x6-inch fir posts inside the shells for additional strength.

The stonemason built the fireplace foundation of cinder block and faced it with sandstone. The fireplace has a gas line but can also burn wood.

Lay It Down

Many of the older buildings in Boise are built from local sandstone. The home already featured stone hardscaping — using sandstone salvaged from local homes and buildings to create impressive retaining walls near the house. The homeowners wanted to extend that use of stone, but the cost of local sandstone was prohibitive.

The solution: A friend of the homeowners’ imports sandstone from China, and that bid — which included all the cuts based on the floor plan, as well as the hand-chipped pieces for the fireplace and hot tub — was about 35% lower than for local stone.

Will Brassfield, of Brassfield Masonry, in Cascade, Idaho, had used Chinese stone on a previous job, so was familiar with it. He and his three-person crew spent two months setting the stone patio, building the fireplace, and updating a cinder block wall. Labeled stone pieces were delivered to the home’s driveway, and the mason directed placement so he could access pieces in the correct order. A wheelbarrow was used to move pieces to the backyard because a forklift couldn’t fit through the narrow side walkways.

Prime Position

Smooth sandstone slabs step up to the hot tub, contrasting with the rustic chipped pieces of the hot tub stone veneer and the blocks of the retaining walls.
Smooth sandstone slabs step up to the hot tub, contrasting with the rustic chipped pieces of the hot tub stone veneer and the blocks of the retaining walls.

The homeowners wanted to upgrade to a new hot tub and move it farther from the house to take advantage of the city view. The new tub has a more powerful motor and heater, so the team had to dig to install the electrical wiring and new water line. The tub sits on 4-inch sandstone blocks that are set on a bed of compacted ¾-inch gravel, which allows water to drain — a suggestion made by the soil engineer. Once the tub had been lifted into place by a crane, the mason clad the plywood sides of the tub in sandstone veneer.

To integrate the tub into the landscape and help it visually blend in, the crews extended the existing sandstone wall nearby by including pieces of stone from the demolition of the original tub, as well as the new sandstone.

Cooking Out

The L-shaped base of cinder block faced with sandstone veneer provides storage and includes an undercounter fridge rated for outdoor use.
The L-shaped base of cinder block faced with sandstone veneer provides storage and includes an undercounter fridge rated for outdoor use.

Nelson has found that cabinet bases made of cinder block and stone hold up better outdoors than pressure-treated wood, which expands and contracts. Tile countertops are also susceptible to the elements because “if water gets under there, it will freeze and break up the tile,” he says.

Though, in the past, Nelson has had custom exterior stainless doors made by a local sheet metal shop, he recently found stainless doors online at GrillsDirect.com, which suited his needs and are more affordable than having custom doors made. The door for this project — including frame, hinges, and handle — cost about $180. Nelson had the project designer size the opening to fit the door size available on the website.

Nelson makes a point of letting homeowners know that outdoor living — especially cooking areas — are not maintenance-free. For this project, he gave the owners a gallon of RV antifreeze and advised them to pour it into the sink drain to prevent the P-traps from freezing in winter. He placed valves in the basement that the homeowners use to shut off the water to the outdoor sink, as well as to drain the water from the pipes.

The cooking station is adjacent to one of two islands in the remodeled kitchen, which provides great flow for entertaining. That island is close to the patio sliding door and serves as a beverage center. It has an ice maker, built-in Miele coffee machine, a wine refrigerator, and a sink.

—Nina Patel is a senior editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @SilverNina or @RemodelingMag.