Remodeling Projects in Northern California
Many of Castle Rock's projects tell a story. Whether it is an outstanding outcome, or a particular challenge to overcome, Jim Pitcher likes his role as a story teller. Check back often as he will be adding more great remodeling stories.
In a word, Jim Pitcher, owner and president of Castle Rock Construction, thought “cool” best described the old Mission Revival style firehouse in Suisun City.
With a very small investment, he bought the circa 1890s property, and with a not so small investment, turned it into an office, a home for him and his family, and two apartments for those lucky enough to have found the rentals first.
Originally the Armijo Club, a focal point of the community where Suisun residents gathered to socialize, it shared its surroundings with hotels, a theater and grand turn-of-the-century homes. Life after the club included a fire house with various offices. Eventually, the property fell vacant.
After sitting vacant for two decades and enduring fire, rot, weather and old age, Jim Pitcher fell in love with its classic lines and bought it. As was the building custom a century ago, the structure sat on two, massive 8-inch redwood beams and wore a coat of cedar shingles. Those gave way to a stucco on the lower level in later years.
Now, Jim has clad the structure entirely in “aged” state-of-the-art, pre-colored, maintenance-free stucco; an architectural product resembling stone graces the windows, providing a most engaging and dramatic look. All the original windows have been replaced with modern aluminum-clad, wooden double-hung Andersen® Windows.
Jim, in keeping with the structure’s “firehouse” past, even installed commercial grade windows that mimic the original fire engine doors. The Castle Rock Construction office now occupies the first floor, along with a one bedroom, 900 square foot apartment.
The second floor, which originally had 16+ foot ceilings, has selectively been split, creating a third floor. These floors provide two, three bedroom, two bath 1600 square foot apartments, one of which the Pitcher family calls home.
The office space has a reception area, space for secretarial and administrative functions, a conference room, kitchenette, bathroom and a defined space from which Jim runs his remodeling company. The office suite’s floor is limestone tile; cherry-railed stairs lead to the Pitcher’s apartment.
The floors throughout the structure are a combination of limestone and Honduran Cherry laminate. The kitchen counter tops are solid, mottled brown limestone, with cherry cabinets, and modern stainless steel appliances. The walls are imperfect, smooth “old world” finish with bull-nosed corners without trim.
At the conclusion of the project, the Suisun City Council presented a proclamation to Jim Pitcher for his efforts toward the re-vitalization of the city’s historic past.
Councilwoman and local business owner, Jane Day, said: “Jim is an outstanding young man and we all expect further great things from him. What he created from the skeleton of the old firehouse is not just an impressive example of his craftsmanship, but a welcome addition to the community.”View Photos
These homeowners were entering the retirement phase of their lives and were intent on spending their remaining years in the comfort of the home in which they felt happy and secure.
To accomplish this goal, they wanted to convert their 30-plus year old master bath into something special yet very practical. Specifically, the homeowners wanted their new bath to provide a make-up space, a hanging closet, shoe storage, and seating for dressing. By moving the paired sinks from an island in the center of the room to the outside walls of the room, what had been clumsy became extremely functional.
The new floor plan also provided a great deal of additional counter and cupboard space, and individual shoe storage, and free-floating benches, which improved the way the clients were able to use and move about the area.
By removing the existing steam shower, the clients were afforded a walk-in closet. The new tile surfaces, addition of GFI outlets, and lighting made the area more functional and certainly much safer, and the floor plan, with his and hers sides, made it easier for two people to use the space at the same time without getting into each other’s way.
The new design blended function and materials into a seamless representation of the client’s wishes. The repetitive detail in the tile, as well as the arrangement of the fixtures, brought better symmetry to the area. The darker maple against the lighter tile and marble countertops brought a strong sense of both contrast and continuity.
Custom millwork throughout the cabinetry and trim, along with the detail in the tile design and application, and a refaced fireplace on the raised sitting area between the master bedroom and bathroom lent that something extra, something special the homeowners were hoping for.
There were no innovative materials used in the remodel, but the materials were used in very creative ways. Readily available, but expensive, tile was used to transition the functional areas around the space.
The uniquely drawered custom cabinets throughout the space created more storage than would normally be available in comparable square footage, and the free-floating benches on either side of the central custom cabinets made the space more user friendly.
There were three obstacles in the remodel. Both the plumbing and electrical components had to be moved without altering the floor to ceiling dimension and within the current inner wall space. Moving the plumbing in a 30-year-old structure isn’t everyone's cup of tea, but was a necessity for relocating the dual sink areas from the middle of the room in a common chase to the sides of the room. Relocating both the electrical and lighting was also necessary for the new space. Between the two, the entire floor, wall and ceiling surfaces had to be removed then replaced to accommodate all the new electrical circuits and switches to best serve the space.
Then there were the floating bench seats. With no structure under the bench, a structural member to carry the weight of the bench, and the person sitting on the bench became a problem. The fix had to be structurally sound and invisible. Two pieces of angle iron were sandwiched between the outside panels of the cabinet. Then the benches were slid over the protruding, horizontal pieces of the angle and secured to the bench.
The end result was exactly what the clients wanted from the project: a new, revitalized personal space they could use for many years to come.View Photos
The homeowers' home is in the Napa Valley area of California where style is everything. The area has a rich history and the home has a magnificent view of Mt. Diablo.
The clients wanted to upgrade from the 80s tract look to early California Colonial look. They wanted attention to detail, and they wanted an indoor and outdoor "living" home because they wanted to spend as much time outdoors as indoors. They also wanted to construct an open, outside cabana style living room with a classic fireplace.
The home was completely remodeled. Every room and every surface, inside and out, to some extent, got a makeover. The existing "typical" California patio was made part of the structure with a 20x20, 400 square foot cabana style addition, with 14' ceilings under a new roof system. In an effort to bring the outside in, a two-tiered pre-cast concrete fountain was installed, providing just the right touch of ambiance. A pre-cast concrete fireplace with a double corbel Mediterranean mantle was then set and surrounded with tile. The floor was set with travertine and the walls were finished with a smooth finish plaster.
To create a more formal atmosphere, the cabana patio has Mediterranean archways with fabric curtains for inclement weather. The cabana patio is divided into two separate areas, one for enjoying a meal with friends, and the other for merely sitting and enjoying the beautiful Northern California weather. Each of the areas received Mission-style chandeliers; task lighting was provided by recessed can lights. Hacienda blend cap and pan roof tiles were applied to the entire roof and then finished with a copper Conestoga chimney top. Smooth stucco was applied and painted in a Fallbrook color.
A new, stamped concrete driveway accents and welcomes visitors The new front door is a custom round top plank door from Antigua Door with a round transom system, 2-1/4" thick Spanish cedar planks, round transom-lights, and a speakeasy opening with an inset diamond grill; it received a light glaze and was manually distressed.
The kitchen ceiling became a vaulted ceiling. The floor was covered with travertine set in a basket weave pattern and the back splash as set with 4x4, multi-color tiles set on a center grid pattern. The cabinet carcasses were custom manufactured Cimino doors and finished with an opaque conversion varnish with a two-art glaze. Display cabinets were inset with decorative wire grilles and then finished with a custom glaze. Bourdeux granite was used on the countertops. A new Thermodor gas range was installed with a custom built plaster range hood with a Vent-a-hood liner insert. This was particularly troublesome because structural members had to be modfied to accommodate the installation. New drywall was installed with an imperfect, smooth finish.
The family room also received a vaulted ceiling and ten-lite exterior, out-swing, wooden doors with a walnut finish and dark glaze. A flat screen TV was placed over the mantle with three surrounding speakers. The mantle is of hand-hewn alder, distressed, and finished with a dark glaze. The cabinetry matches that of the kitchen with Juliano upper doors, shaker lower doors with lattice inset to allow air cooling for the electronics, and a rope detail flanking either end. These were finished with a pigmented glaze. The inside fireplace mantle was constructed from a single, hand-hewn, irregular planed, 8" alder timber. The tile on the fireplace consisted of 4x8 Gamelan Border, 6x6 W.Z. Lambok, and 6x24 W.Z. Buyan in burnt umber from Walker Zanger.
The entry powder room received custom cabinets with custom furniture finish of opaque conversion varnish with glaze top coats. The floor received the same tile as the kitchen. The great room has a 14' ceiling, three 5-foot by 7-foot wood outswing doors with arched tops, and the tile used was the same as that used in the kitchen.
The custom front door has an arch and is made of knotty alder. The master bathroom was finished with custom furniture style cabinetry using opaque conversion varnish with glaze top coats. Countertops were Onyx. Inset into the ceiling is a custom, plaster dome with rope lighting and a central, Mission-style chandelier.
The shower is appointed with travertine tile and edging, and enclosed with custom frameless glass front panels and door. Then this well-appointed room was finished with a slipper style tub. In an effort to bring sound throughout the house, an RA, wireless radio system was installed with separate controls in each room. This was an afterthought of the clients, thus the use of wireless technology. Two spaces originally dedicated to smaller bedrooms, were converted into a state-of-the-art workout room replete with mirrors surrounding the walls. And a custom office was constructed in the other. The office, build in a "L" shape received the same cabinetry with places for computer, fax, etc., as the rest of the house and the closet received custom storage units.
California living at its best.View Photos
The homeowner wanted something different, out of the ordinary, as an entertainment center and bar combination that would add an unusual dimension to watching TV. It had to be in character with the rest of the residence, tastefully designed and executed to deliver the maximum effect.
A two-piece combination bar and seating, coupled with a fireplace and large screen TV was designed. A system was designed and custom built cabinet consisting of a radius front entertainment center houses a large flat screen TV and enclosed stereo speakers on the top level, and a gas log fireplace below.
A custom built see-through bar sports a matching radius front, plenty of storage, and room for three to eat, drink, and enjoy the warmth of the fireplace without missing any of the action on the TV. For even greater functionality, the TV is also viewable through the large opening in the bar while meals or snacks are prepared from the kitchen. Traffic flow is unique: access and egress between the bar front and TV can happen with ease around both sides of the bar, and the opening in the back of the bar provides for service both from and to the kitchen area. Because of the free and easy movement about the space, adequate lighting, and lack of combustibles at or on the fireplace, safety, as well as an ample use of space, are both achieved. Both pieces are custom fabricated from start to finish, and match each other identically in all respects. Both are constructed of clear cherry finish with a clear satin lacquer. Both enjoy chrome accents strips and custom crafted, glass cabinet doors with matching radii, and both are tastefully lit with accenting puck lights. The design and fabrication for both units shared issues in common as well as individually.
The entertainment center was fabricated in the shop in three units and then assembled onsite. The opening for the flat screen TV had to be carefully considered as it too had a radius and therefore had to be designed so that the TV would fit.
The entire bar system, except the countertop, had to be fabricated onsite due to the structural columns on either side between which the curved lower cabinets would rest. Then the countertop template was prepared, fabricated elsewhere, returned and installed. After the countertop was in place, the cabinetmaker had to wrap the two columns on either side as well as the overhead beam while making sure the joints at the columns and header maintained alignment. A complement of matching radii cabinet doors had to be constructed for both units. Radius glass inserts had to be ordered with precise dimensions to assure a perfect fit to openings with tight tolerances. Any mistake would have been expensive to correct. Because of the abundance of natural light into the space, the finishes had to be dead-on, otherwise every flaw would show. The custom walnut inlays were fabricated out of square stock, which protruded above the radius in each door. A jig matching the radius had to be designed and fabricated, then a router used to trim excess material and then sanded and finished.
Solving the multitude of challenges associated with the project was one of the parts that made the project fun and interesting. The homeowners now can entertain every night.View Photos
The client purchased a mature, small, NAPA Valley vineyard to be their home and for personal enjoyment.
Once they began converting their new "hobby" grapes into wine, they soon realized they needed a place to "age" their labors and a place to then enjoy them. They decided to design such a place within the confines of their home where they could entertain family and friends.
The structure was modified to allow storage of more than 200 individual bottles, cases, and magnum size bottles. A cask room was added as was a well-appointed tasting room. The storage area is separated from the tasting and social area by a tempered glass doors and windows. The space to be converted was a challenge. No surface was plumb or level, therefore, the remodel involved interior walls, new floors and ceilings.
Until these issues were addressed, the beautiful cabinet work, and a complete temperature and humidity control system to store, maintain, and enjoy the wine could not be started. The floors had to be floated out and chases with faux finishes provided for HVAC and electrical. Lighting in the tasting room is provided by a series of recessed and puck lights.
The bar/counter area is highlighted by a custom, Tiffany style chandelier. Enough space was left in front of the bar to accommodate two serving tables for food and snacks, with plenty of room to move about the space. Discreetly hidden behind the bar is a large capacity cooler that can chill several bottles at once.
The bar is capped with eight lineal feet of Bordeaux granite and sports a brass foot rail. The bar has grape panels between Acanthus Corbels and the bottle storage cabinet areas are a unique blend of Acanthus overlays under precisely cut and mitered grape design crown molding over and around a cleverly designed bottle storage system.
Traffic flow is achieved through the multiple points of entry through any of three pairs of 6' custom double doors which, when weather permitting, can remain open while entertaining. The host and hostess can attend food and beverage service from behind and around the bar through a separate doorway.
The temperature controlled cask storage area is large enough for the clients' current needs, and can accommodate a larger number of casks should the need arise.
The floor and walls of the cask room are designed for easy maintenance and it is cleverly lit by modified Tequila glasses adapted to serve that function. Both rooms are delightfully decorated with earthen tone faux finishes on walls, ceilings and floors reminiscent of a nonspecific European wine making region.
This effect is extended to the soffits in the tasting room. A unique wine racking system is easily stored, providing even greater ability to maintain and move about the storage area.View Photos
The clients enjoy entertaining guests in their home. They enjoy sports events, but don't necessarily enjoy the hustle 'n bustle of going to the stadium, finding a place to park, and in the case of football, freezing to death. They much prefer sharing the ambiance of their comfortable home, offering snacks and drinks from the wet bar, and enjoying a round of pool during intermissions and halftime, or watching halftime shows on a state-of-the-art home theater.
These clients were so committed to this enterprise, they dedicated their entire basement, except those areas already used for utility, storage, and mechanical needs, the renovation.
To make sure the clients' every wish was met, a complete entertainment area was designed and constructed with ease of movement, lighting, and safety in mind. The area would include a home theater with totally wireless controls, a pool room, and a social area replete with a commercial-grade wet bar. The home theater consists of a screen within a custom cabinet system that also houses the complete audio-visual equipment center. Speakers are nestled in custom benches with the sound cones discretely hidden behind fabric panels. The motor for the panel that hides the screen when not in use is behind a similar fabric panel.
The furniture style cabinet has Shaker style doors with walnut peg inlays and leaded glass panels. There are multiple lighting "scenes" for ambiance; low-voltage lighting inside the crown molding, and recessed can lights are discretely placed so that they can provide an extra level of illumination when required.
The pool room was walled with a custom wainscot paneling with clear cherry stiles and rails finished with a clear satin lacquer. The panels are of Madagascar ebony with a light satin stain and a clear lacquer finish. A custom cue rack was constructed from clear cherry and backed with the Madagascar ebony panel.
Drink rails were custom fabricated from cherry and custom crown molding was fabricated to match the rest of the house. The space is lit with a combination of recessed lights and a series of hidden lights behind crown molding for dramatic effect. The bar area is topped with a custom crown detail to contain the lighting. The bar is constructed in the same manner and fashion as the theater and pool rooms with Shaker style cabinetry with square walnut peg in the door corners and decorative leaded glass door fronts with more than enough front and back bar space to serve and enjoy drinks and snacks. Entry behind the bar is through custom, bi-directional butler doors. A custom bottle display and storage area takes up the bottom half of the bar's back wall. And, for the sake of convenience, a full size automatic dishwasher is installed under the bar for cleaning glasses and stemware. The bar is also tricked out with an espresso machine, its own flat screen TV and AmX video controller. The bar is lit with puck lights in the upper cabinets that illuminate downward through glass shelves, and low-voltage lighting is used behind the bottle display. The bar itself is lit by a series of earthen tone pendant lights.
All three areas complement each other and are in total harmony with the remainder of the house. Moldings were matched, carpeting styles were chosen to complement rather than compromise, and muted, natural colors and textures were chosen that complement the surroundings. There is a seamless transition between the newer areas of the home and those already in everyday use. The entire area is a nebula of electrons operating servos, quietly opening and closing hidden switches, mysteriously dimming and brightening lights, and not only creating an alluring atmosphere, but one that is programmable, available at the touch of a finger to a heat sensitive screen, for an individual, or a group. At a single touch the lights in the theater and bar areas dim as the theater screen lowers into viewing position. Not only does the AMX controller open and close shades and window treatments to facilitate better viewing, but on an entirely different level it controls the very access to the property. It opens and closes entryways, external doors and gates as well.
None of this magic came easily. Electrical circuits were at a premium. Over heating plagued the AV rack, and pesky rays of light seemed to creep in where and when they were least welcome. An exhaust fan was installed in the AV cabinet to dissipate the heat. New electrical outlets were scheduled and placed while others were moved. The bar area received custom wire chases hidden within the cabinetry. Exterior roll-a-way shutters, all controlled from the AMX controller, were installed and programmed as the answer to those pesky light rays.
This is not your grandmother's house.View Photos
When it came time to remodel their kitchen, a Napa couple knew exactly who to call. Having previously worked with Castle Rock Construction on a basement renovation, the homeowners chose Castle Rock.
Although it had served them well, the homeowners wanted something different for their kitchen—something that exemplified their sense of style and had an open floor plan.
Starting with a spark of an idea, they were looking for talented craftsmen to make their French Country dream kitchen a reality. That’s where the artistry and craftsmanship of Tim Metcalfe and Jay Coleman from Castle Rock’s custom cabinet shop came into the picture.
“This isn’t your basic Shopsmith kitchen,” Tim said. “With our complete cabinet shop, we were able to meet all the challenges a project like this presents.”
Tim and Jay created one-of-a-kind kitchen elements that matched pre-existing furniture pieces. The custom wood stove hood, and wood refrigerator door cover look remarkably like an armoire the homeowners already possessed.
“Legs and feet on furniture are fairly common place,” Tim said, “but we managed to round out the homeowners’ look by creating them for the island and the sink areas. We even created top rails with a radius.”
Castle Rock credits Napco Finishing for the final, installed look. In the two months it took to complete the project, the kitchen was completely renovated, a pantry was created with cupboards strategically placed to hide a pesky staircase to the basement, and a new entry staircase was constructed to take advantage of the light and lines of the existing foyer.
“Having our cabinet shop is definitely an advantage when meeting our clients’ needs. It gives our clients many more options that they are not likely to find elsewhere,” Jim Pitcher, president of Castle Rock, said. “It allows us to finish a remodel with truly unique products that simply aren’t available from big box outlets.”
The cabinet shop is just one of the many ways Castle Rock Construction delivers the highest quality of construction to discriminating homeowners. With an entire cadre of trade professionals, there’s little that can be imagined, that can’t be delivered.View Photos
A five-bedroom, five-bath, 5,000 square foot home in Danville was in need of a make-over.
Originally, the family room had a shed roof from the first floor to second floor hallway that didn’t leave sufficient head room in the hallway, and reduced the view. The roof was removed and replaced with a gable end roof. New windows added more light and a view of the swimming pool.
The home’s tired 70’s look was transformed to an Old World design, keeping with the feel of the neighborhood. A detailed bar was added to the family room; the laundry was moved upstairs.
New custom cabinetry now adorns the dining room and great room. In the new kitchen, a custom island has four turned legs, keeping with the Old World look. Its visually stunning, labor intensive, hand rubbed finish was achieved by staining and lacquering the piece, then spraying it with a pigmented conversion varnish, after which the edges were lightly sanded, giving the unit a rubbed, aged appearance.
“Now that we have a state-of-the-art cabinet shop, we enjoy showing off our technical cabinetry skills,” Jim Pitcher said. “The shop gives us the opportunity to deliver unique cabinets and built-in furniture pieces that enhance our projects.”
Since 2010, federal law requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.
Protect your family and make sure you only hire a contractor who is in a Lead-Safe Certified Firm. Castle Rock Construction is a EPA Lead-Safe Certified firm.
Download a PDF brochure from the EPA to learn more about this federal law.
By 2020, the population of retirement-age Americans is expected to grow by 75%. In a recent AARP survey of respondents 45 and older, 83% said they would prefer to live out their lives in their current homes rather than move into a retirement community, assisted living facility or nursing home.
But remaining in our homes is not without certain challenges. Homes that were convenient when we were younger can cause problems in later years. As our lifestyle and needs change, so should our home environments. In order to "age in place" many homes will need minor and/or major remodeling, depending on the specific needs of the occupants and conditions of their home.
Call Jim Pitcher to learn how to make your home more comfortable and convenient.
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Thank you for everything. We are extremely happy with the project. Everyone was wonderful to work with and the craftmanship was an art form. You and your crew deserve a lot of admiration and credit.