by: Vern Uyetake, Jeff Metke, president and owner of Metke Remodeling & Woodworking in Lake Oswego stands within Tom and Julie Hamlin’s home in Lake Oswego. This room with 16 and 20-foot ceilings is called the “Hemingway room.”

Can a den with skyscraping mahogany bookshelves and swinging ladders inspire great thoughts?

Can a new vaulted kitchen and attached family room provide a special place for the whole family?

What about a sunroom that morphs into a dark movie theater with the flip of a switch?

Sure. Why not?

Can an existing house be modified to fit the needs of the new homeowners? Yes.

Can the finished result look and feel great?

Yes, award winning in fact.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) named two Lake Oswego homes as regional winners in the 2008 Contractor of the Year (CotY) awards. The homes, remodeled by Metke Remodeling and Woodworking of Lake Oswego, earned top honors in the categories: 'Entire House Over $1,000,000' for the Hamlin's house and 'Entire House $250,000 to $500,000' for the Burgess' home.

The Hamlin's home also won 'Best Whole House Remodel: $1 Million and Above' by the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.

Their home near Bryant Road expanded by 5,500 square-feet to include a playroom for the children, solarium/media entertainment room, gym, sauna and guest suites.

And then there's the abounding mahogany paneled library fit for a king, or Ernest Hemingway himself.

The Burgess' home near West Bay on Oswego Lake gained a new master suite and vaulted ceilings to house a new kitchen, nook and great room area.

Jeff Metke - the president of Metke Remodeling and Woodworking - said that as a builder, making his clients happy is most important. Winning the awards is, 'the icing on the cake.'

A room fit for Hemingway

Set away from the road and at the end of a stretched driveway, Julie and Tom Hamlin's estate looks exquisite. It is unnoticeable that the 6,000 square foot home grew to 11,500 square feet in 18 months. The home wraps the property comfortably and looks like its been there forever.

The idea to add an oversized playroom for their children, expanded - 'Tom had other ideas,' Julie said - to a new wing of the house to incorporate a three car auto museum, room for guests and workouts and entertainment.

The guest suites - wrapped in wainscoting and finished with fine fabrics, chandeliers and marble - look like they were transported from The Plaza hotel in New York City.

'These rooms look like they are timeless with elaborate archways and details,' Metke said.

No aspect was compromised in the wing from the detailed tile work in the powder bathroom, to top-of-the-line workout equipment.

But it's the vaulted den at the end of the addition that drops mouths. Once through the doorway it feels like you've been transported in a time capsule - back to a time when thick books were a trophy, horses traveled down quaint lamp-lit streets and men puffed cigars at country clubs without telling their wives.

'(Tom) calls it his 'Hemingway room,'' Metke referred to the homeowner. 'He wanted to be able to come here and shut the door and really think big thoughts, do great things and come up with great ideas.'

And the room is great with 16 and 20 foot ceilings, classic beauty and hidden modern conveniences.

The space is equipped with surround sound, touch pads, TVs that pop-up and down with the flip of a switch, floor-to-ceiling mahogany bookshelves, mahogany wood paneling and an oversized bar and powder bathroom fit for royalty.

'This was a fun collaboration. Tom wanted a library and big bookcases and a fireplace. And he got it,' Metke said. 'It's a craftsman's dream to come play in a room like this. It feels like a castle.'

The opening in the pre-cast concrete fireplace is taller than Metke. The ladders used to reach books near the ceiling swing from one end of the room to the other. The room overlooks the backyard entertaining area that Metke and his crew molded into a retreat for guests. The outdoor kitchen features brick and concrete counters, a fireplace, 20' by 40' pool and integrated spa.

'They like to host gatherings and everything about the way (the backyard) was defined was to embellish that,' Metke said.

Room for one, and all

Just a couple streets away from the Hamlin's, transforming Eryn and Marshal Burgess' 1960s ranch house involved opening the space up; creating a cohesive and functional family room, kitchen and nook area; and adding a master suite.

The home near Oswego Lake reflects a sense of community, quiet curves and spaces to spend time together and apart.

While the Burgess' wanted to add some square-footage on to their one-story house, they also wanted their original footprint to be utilized more effectively and feel larger.

So, eight-foot ceilings in the entrance were heightened. A small kitchen - once isolated in the back of the home - was moved to the front and became a part of the nook and family room space. The countertop - shaped like an oversized slice of pie - is so big you can hardly reach the center of it.

'It's great at holidays. We fit everything here,' Eryn said.

The house can be broken into thirds: the middle is the kitchen and family room; the right is the garage and TV room and the left contains the den and bedrooms.

What was once the master suite - a small bedroom with attached bathroom - is now their young daughter's room. Out of the two other original bedrooms, one is for their son and the other became a den. A hallway was extended to access the new master suite.

'We're proud of it. As far as finishes, I pulled pictures out of magazines to figure out what I wanted,' Eryn said.

In the hallway near all the rooms is a 'message center with bookshelves and a desk. This is a place for communication - to leave notes and items to be filed or put away.

'We just wanted something to put keys and cell phones on,' Marshal said.

Now the home has a cohesive look and lake-theme.

'They wanted a lake-cottage concept - the white cottage look and feel with trim details,' Metke said.

The home is light and bright with plenty of skylights and windows. And the kind of warmth you feel watching your family grow-up in a special place you created.

'We had our son's first birthday here,' Marshal said. 'There's already been those little milestones.'

Metke said he teamed with Bob Moreland at MCM Architects, Tina Barclay at Barclay Interiors and Michael Bordman at Bordman Landscape Architecture on the Hamlin residence. He worked with home designer Keith Abel of Keith Abel Designs and interior architect Sandy Hayes of Hayes Designs to complete the remodels.

For more information about Metke Remodeling and Woodworking visit the Web site at .

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