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Modern revival

by: Vern Uyetake, This 1970s ranch home — owned by Deena and Mike Bragg of Portland — didn’t always look so sunny. The home was recently remodeled by Ewing Design Concepts from Lake Oswego to allow for larger interior spaces, more natural light and a fresh way to display artwork and vintage furniture. Visit with Breana and David Ewing at the Home Improvement and Remodeling Show next week at the Oregon Convention Center, along with hundreds of other professionals dedicated to transforming spaces into something to brag about.

Sleek lines.

Functionality.

Less is more, and plenty of light is even better.

David and Breana Riddle Ewing - husband and wife general contractors from Lake Oswego - recently spent an afternoon with clients, marveling at the work they achieved together.

Owners of Ewing Design Concepts, the duo said each remodel project is uniquely different, with new challenges and rewards. Many thinking about remodeling a part of their home may become overwhelmed at the thought of where to start. That's why there's the Home Improvement and Remodeling Show (HIRS).

Visit with the Ewings and take a tour like no other at the Oregon Convention Center September 27 to 30. Presented by the Oregon Remodelers Association (ORA), the show will feature insight into the remodeling industry and process.

This year's show will highlight more than 300 contractors, suppliers and manufacturers - as well as inform attendees of green building techniques. Seminars and live demonstrations enhance the show and bring added entertainment - such as Vicki Norris, who is nationally recognized for her books and TV appearances on organization.

Phil Peach, president and CEO of the ORA, said that a 50s style kitchen and modern kitchen might be conversation pieces at the show.

'It's the ultimate kitchen of yesterday and today,' Peach said. 'In the 50s kitchen you will see boomerang designs on the counters and in the modern kitchen you'll see a tile backsplash and stainless steel appliances. The 50s kitchen will have an electric range (stove), the modern will have natural gas.'

Peach said that if someone is thinking about remodeling, this is a great place to begin researching ideas. Remodeling isn't just a checklist and impending nightmare, it's a rejuvenation of the most important place on earth - home.

The Ewings recently completed a project in Portland that shed some light - literally - into the joys of remodeling and enhancing the homeowners' personal style.

Updating a ranch

With an enclosed sunroom, small windows and dark color pallet, Mike and Deena Braggs' one-level ranch home needed to get out of the dark. And their modern furniture and art begged for time in the spotlight.

'The entire idea was to bring in more light,' Deena said. 'We tried to make it as light as possible.'

The Braggs said that their home was built in the 70s by a builder who is rumored to have the exact same floor plan in Palm Springs. Since the Braggs also have a home in the California desert, they wanted to incorporate items into the house that made their Oregon ranch home seem sunny, even on rainy days.

The Ewings - and their production partners - transformed an enclosed sunroom into an extended entertaining area off the living room. With heated tile floors and a wet bar, the space stays cool in the summertime and warm in the winter. The furniture is sparse and low to the ground - a sleek look for the mid-century modern vibe the couple was after.

Many of their pieces were shipped up from Palm Springs and given some new fabric.

'There were bright oranges. It was very Frank Sinatra,' Mike said.

Breana said that whether it's an 1896 Victorian or Craftsman, remodeling a house to resemble its architectural style is crucial.

'It's important to us to respect the natural integrity of the house. This was a ranch house and it's still a ranch house,' Breana said. 'We listen to what our clients' visions and dreams are and with that we try to ensure it compliments the home and the clients' style.'

Eight-foot sliding doors connect the new sunroom area to the backyard patio. Large windows make the backyard pool area visible.

Upon first entrance to the home, visitors have a wave of light - small, amber-tinted windows were replaced with rainglass. Cream colored tile and thick, wool frieze carpet replaced chocolate browns. Cabinets that blocked a view of the backyard were removed.

Art collectors, the Braggs now have spotlights positioned to illuminate their artwork throughout the home. Floor to ceiling bookshelves in several rooms - filled with hardcovers and paperbacks - make spaces feel cozy and serve as a piece of art, such as near the kitchen.

With a larger island, new sapele cabinetry and appliances as well as a hood above the stove that's 'not too low so that it blocks the view,' Deena said, cooking is a joy.

Surfaces in bathrooms also revived tired materials while staying true to the 1945-1965 period - characterized by simplicity, democratic design and natural shapes. A guest bathroom was retiled in metallic blues and purples and a bathtub was reinstalled in the corner of the room.

'That's an original Sputnick light,' Deena said, pointing to the ceiling.

The retro-modern, space-age inspired chandelier illuminates all corners of the bathroom. The master bathroom - now with built-in dressers and new tile work - is relaxing, yet funky.

'This is what we call the bubble bath,' Deena said, pointing to the round tiles.

After living in their home 21 years, the Braggs said they're excited to spend their first fall and winter in their home that is well-lit, even for the rainiest of days. And by changing their fireplaces from wood burning to gas, ambiance is as easy as flipping a switch.

Get ideas at home show

Meet with the Ewings and other remodeling contractors at the HIRS next week. Specializing in home editions, kitchen, bathroom and whole-house remodel projects, Ewing Design Concepts combine design, building and remodeling under one rooftop. With 35 years experience, the couple said that the home show is a great way to meet people and learn their desires.

'Clients usually know what they want. We're just a tool in their toolbox,' David said.

As a board member for the ORA, Breana said she's always eager to share ideas and learn from others.

'Something extraordinary in my booth this year is a bathroom vanity that glows. We achieved this by recessing a Honey Onxy vessel sink into the granite slab and lit it from inside the cabinet,' Breana said. 'It's perfect for a powder room if you want the soft glow of a light.'

More than a designer, Breana isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves to keep projects rolling.

'We really respect the investment that the clients are making,' Breana said. 'Our clients are our family.'

The Ewings said their goal is for clients to be proud of their home. As their 4-year-old son Noah runs around the Briggs living room, the two couples discuss the fun they've had since the project has been completed - and during the process. It seems evident that choosing the right contractor is vital during lengthy projects.

Peach said that even if a remodel project isn't in your immediate future, the show is an avenue to gather ideas for the future.

'(Many people) don't realize there are ways to improve your living space, the most important thing being that you can (get back) most - and in some cases all - the costs in terms of resale value on the house,' Peach said. 'There are so many creative ways to reconfigure your space in a way that more adequately suits your lifestyle.'

The Braggs home will be available to tour on Oct. 13 and 14 during the Remodelers Home Tour, also sponsored by the ORA. For more information visit the ORA Web site.