The motivation to renovate the family home for this couple is nothing short of a real love story. Terry and Laura considered their renovation for many years and dreamed, like many couples do, about what they could do once they were empty nesters. As Terry describes, their initial objective was to relocate the laundry room to the main floor to reduce the number of steps between the source of their laundry and the washing machine! They thought they would sacrifice one of the existing five bathrooms and convert it into a main floor laundry room but as they started to make lists of what needed to be done they quickly added the need for a new roof, issues of aging plumbing, replacing the old exterior aluminum siding and fixing a leaky basement. Laura jokingly added that she just wanted to spend money but the sparkle in their eyes said this renovation was about much more than that.

Kitchen 3 AfterTerry shared that the actual planning of the renovation began two years before any construction activity even started. Laura said that “the catalyst for me wanting this home renovated sooner rather than later was when we had three floods in one year, pipes bursting in the walls and roof tiles flying off in big winds.” In addition to these motivating factors this couple love their community, have great neighbors and the proximity to downtown and river valley are superb. They also recognize the “built in value of having purchased this house many years earlier.”
When it came to the design, Terry and Laura were very precise in what they envisioned. “We wanted functional space that suited our lifestyle and interests. We also wanted a house that was fully accessible for Laura and addressed her mobility challenges. At an early design stage we did add a second floor to the house, but ultimately decided that the existing footprint was plenty big enough for the two of us and we had to figure out how to use that space in a way that addressed our wish list. Some of the essential elements were accessibility for the long term. We took the approach that this house, once completed, would serve our purposes for the rest of our lives. We wanted a home that we could grow old in so, adding an elevator and making the entire house handicap accessible, especially the bathrooms with a handicap accessible bathtub and shower, grab bars and wide doors was really important. An art studio with lots of natural light and a large dining room to accommodate our growing family was on that list. There would be no kids table at our family Christmas dinner! Adequate storage for our art collection and a climate controlled room for our musical instruments was essential. We also wanted our space to be open, beautiful, unique and inviting. Fitting in with the heritage of our neighborhood was part of the deal so opting for the exterior Craftsman style suited our taste and the neighborhood.”
Once Terry and Laura had their wish list generated and had done their due diligence in finding just the right contractor to meet their needs, the design, estimate and construction process began in earnest. “We looked around for a number of years at renovations and new construction occurring in and around our neighborhood and noticed that a few signs kept showing up over and over. We looked at the various projects while they were under construction and gravitated to work that we felt looked to be of the quality and aesthetics that appealed to us.” As Terry explained, “Growing up in the home construction business I observed the pace of projects, the condition of the construction sites and the timeliness of the various projects. All the observations over the years helped inform us in our decision to approach a short list of contractors. We also talked to a number of people who had experience with the contractors we were considering to get a feel for each contractor before we actually contacted them.”
Having made this short list, Aquarian was appreciative of the opportunity to be carefully scrutinized in this selection process as it is very important for homeowners to find just the right contractor to work with. When values, ideals, skills and vision line up, chances of a successful renovation project and working relationship are extremely high.

Office 2 AfterTerry continues to share his very thoughtful decision making process, “We spent time with each contractor to get a feel for how they pursued their work. Through our discussion we got a feel for each contractor’s process for design, detail selection, construction execution, project management, invoicing and change orders. Being a project manager myself, these details were important to me for clarity and certainty regarding project execution and minimization of confusion. Communication process between contractor and client were also very important as was the contractor interview. It mattered who represented the contractor during those interviews and how we were treated during that interview process. For Aquarian, the owner, Marie, and two of her key associates met us at our home for the interview. Other contractors arranged for us to meet them at their offices where we met with an employee whose job and first priority, we felt, was to land a new contract. We felt Aquarian put our interests first. At the end of the interviews we requested references. After checking all of the references for all the contractors, we were convinced Aquarian was the right company for us. A company that we could work with. Being a one-stop shop from design to completion was also important to us. Meeting directly with the owner, Marie, and her straight forward approach to their work and our very candid questions was really important to us. She immediately created a feeling of trust and confidence in our decision. It was then decided that we would renovate rather than build a new house. It may have been simpler for us to tear down and build new, given the extent of our renovation, but we wanted to work with Aquarian.” Laura sums it up even more succinctly, ”When you are going to be working with people for at least a year, you want to make sure that you “click” as it were. Aquarian not only appeared to have its game on but it felt like this business treated its staff like family. There appeared to be a lot of respect in the workplace and a genuine excitement in the idea of working with us! This made me feel confident and excited about the prospect too!”

Living Room 1 afterAnd so the renovation began… “The design process (in fact the entire project) was tremendously fun for us.” Laura and Terry both quickly add. “There were a million decisions to make throughout a project like this and Aquarian’s approach to early selection of so many of the detailed design aspects prior to even signing the contract for construction really proved to be a great way to deal with so many of these details. It is impossible to keep track of all the design decisions that relate to each other. The most helpful aspect of this stage was an assigned designer who helped us through all of these details and kept track of all of our decisions along the way!”
There were many unique details in this renovation as Terry describes, “I think one of the most unique things about our 2500 sq. ft. bungalow is that there are no bedrooms on the main floor. The main floor is all about living and enjoying our personal interests with a large living/music room, an even larger dining room and a wonderful spacious kitchen. A climate controlled storage room for our musical instruments and a large, west facing art studio were all created for us to pursue our creative interests.”
The before and after pictures capture some of the uniqueness of this renovation but the joy that Terry and Laura so graciously share about the feeling their newly renovated home brings to them is beyond what words can capture. “We love that it felt like home right away. All of the details were just what we wanted. It is nice to be at the end of the project and to feel that we did not compromise on anything. All of the unique aspects of the house we love because they reflect us.” Terry shares an even deeper feeling of gratitude for the mobility the renovation has provided. “We are also very happy with how accessible the entire house is for Laura. That has made such a difference to her.”
When asked what she likes best about the renovated space, Laura says, “I love how our bedroom feels, like we are away in a beach resort. I love working in that gorgeous, functional kitchen. I think the solar tube is cool as it gives an incredible amount of natural light. I love sitting by the fire place in the living room and looking out on our beautiful porch. I can’t wait to sit out on the porch this Exterior Front Aftersummer. The garage is so much more accessible without the terrible disintegrating floor and middle post. The elevator has saved me from so much pain and I had my first bath (as opposed to a shower) in years without needing help to get out. I love watching our children feel that this ‘new’ home was still their home. Our 29 year old son actually cried because he was so overwhelmed with the beauty of it all.”
Terry and Laura said if there was one thing they would change or add it would be more lighting in certain places like the closets and in the art room and locate a few light switches differently but besides that, the sentiments that are echoed over and over again are ones of gratitude, tremendous joy and excitement for what they have created and a longing to “entertain more, hold house concerts and make our home a place of openness, inviting to friends and family. We want to share this home with others as much as we can.” Laura shared that “one of the best complements we have received from family and friends was that even though our home was beautiful and new, it felt familiar. It felt like home…” She continued to share that “people are astonished when I tell them that we enjoyed the renovation process!”
“Thank you so much for your outstanding professionalism and guidance.” Terry added, “It’s been a blast and a real pleasure working with all of you. “ And adding somewhat jokingly, “Let’s do it again!”