One of the most interesting and anticipated aspects of the Remodeling Design Awards is seeing how entrants express their creativity and ingenuity through design details that surprise and delight. From salvaged wood stair screens to gas pipe light fixtures, this year’s entries didn’t disappoint in their ability to reimagine materials. 

1. Ray Residence / silver-maple screen 
When the Ray Residence was remodeled, the silver maple tree in the home’s front yard—planted during the 1940s when the original house was built—was dying. Architect and homeowner Todd Ray decided to harvest and mill the lumber to create slats for an entry screen by the staircase, an homage to the tree and the original house.

2. Robin’s Way / rope noise buffer
Architect Paul Masi's clients sought to have a specially curated aesthetic for their vacation home remodel and settled on natural rope as a key material, incorporating manila rope details throughout the house in walls and ceilings. To compliment the home’s 1960s style and serve as a noise buffer (one of the of clients is a DJ) the designers created a “digitally fabricated framework”—what is essentially a CNC-milled wood “loom”—between the ceiling beams, which holds the strands of rope in place.

3. Far Pond / folded steel panels
In an effort to express the home’s structural system while also providing continuity of materials and visual interest, architect Paul Masi made use of blackened raw steel 4x8 panels, folded back on themselves in the new parts of the house. Ferra Designs, in Brooklyn, N.Y., used a CNC press break to fold the steel sheets (either solid or perforated) for use as wall panels, stairs, and a dining room light fixture. Over time, the steel will patina and weather, taking on more brown hues, which is the beauty of the material; it will take on a life of its own. 

4. Tria Taproom / black gas-pipe light fixtures
To capitalize on the minimalist masculine aesthetic of the Philadelphia bar for which these fixtures were created, Otto Architects designed light fixtures from black gas pipe. Delicate, yet industrial-looking, the black, worn texture of the pipe complements the rustic look of the design. 

5. Craftsman-Built Art Studio / salvaged window & window sashes
The client, an avid painter, wanted to create a studio that provides modern amenities but also incorporates aged materials and features that have a sense of nostalgia. To accomplish this, she found a salvaged Palladian window from a church and window sashes from the high school she had attended.

Click to explore the full list of 18 winners in the 2014 Remodeling Design Awards.