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A House Becomes a Home
Two locals turn a standard West Jackson house into something special.
By Lila Edythe ∙ Photography by David Agnello
Because planning a wedding for two hundred people wasn’t enough, Sally and Mike Brin decided to almost completely remodel their 1,638-square-foot, split-level home at the same time. (There’s a 500-square-foot garage, too.) The first step was replacing all the windows, which were original from the home’s 1973 construction. Contractor Scott Diehl did that in October 2014. And then he began the process of transforming the couple’s Boise Cascade modular home, of which there are dozens in West Jackson between the library and post office, into an open and airy space with nice flow. The Brins love entertaining and wanted a home that allowed them to do just that.
Diehl had until June, when the couple were hosting a wedding event at the house, to finish. “That was a definite deadline,” Mike says. Even though Diehl ended up needing to rewire about 70 percent of the house—“We were expecting we’d have to do maybe 30 percent,” Mike says—the couple moved back in in late January. “Sometimes during the process it felt like things went really slow, but for the transformation that happened, it’s amazing it went so fast,” Sally says.
Sally bought and moved into the house in 2006. “It appealed to me because it was turn-key,” she says. “The house wasn’t anything special, but the backyard is amazing, and I love the location. I figured there were little things I could do over the years that would make it special.”
“The house wasn’t anything special, but the backyard is amazing, and I love the location. I figured there were little things I could do over the years that would make it special.”
[ Sally Brin, homeowner ]
When Mike moved in in 2013, the couple immediately started talking about doing big things. “We had a lot of unusable space, and the kitchen was tiny,” Mike says. “We spent about one day looking through real estate before deciding we weren’t going to find a better location with a better backyard in our budget.” The couple quickly pivoted to talking about remodeling the kitchen and the master suite, both on the upper floor. Like many remodels, though, the scope quickly grew. Sally has an upright piano that, if the upstairs was being remodeled, needed to be relocated downstairs. “We couldn’t get it down the stairs the way they were,” Mike says. “So we decided to blow out the walls around the stairs.”
Sally’s piano is now downstairs in a dedicated music room. The stairs, with a custom railing by welder Alex McFarland (of Butte West), “is one of the cooler parts of the house,” Sally says. “That railing was probably a splurge, but it was worth it.” Opening up the stairway makes the living room on the lower level more practical, too. “We didn’t really use it that much when it was closed off,” Sally says, “but since the remodel we are always down there, using it as our main living room while the upstairs is more for dining and entertaining.”
To make the kitchen larger, the couple got rid of the adjacent bathroom and replaced a sliding door to an outdoor deck with a standard swing door. “We knew what we wanted to do with the floor plan, but we weren’t as sure about the details,” Sally says. The couple saved money during the remodel by forgoing hiring an architect, but did go to Bison Custom Cabinetry for kitchen help. “Kristen [Carter] really knows how to make the most out of a space,” Sally says. “She had suggestions we never would have thought of that make the kitchen really user-friendly.”
The home’s original floor plan did not have a master suite, but did have two bedrooms on the upper level. Diehl combined these to create a spacious master suite. A window was added in the new master bath. “Natural light in a bathroom is so nice,” Sally says. “All of the light in the whole house now is great. This house was fine the way it was, but now it is special and works for our lifestyle.”