A Grimes family adds space to work and relax.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Photography by tim Abramowitz
Featured in May/June 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has had long-term effects for most Americans, including a new way of working. For one Grimes couple, those new working arrangements also resulted in the completion of a long-awaited home remodeling project.
Like many others, Jason and Julie Wulfekuhle found themselves both working from home when much of the country shut down in 2020. Although they have a spacious home, they had just one office space. With their son home from school during the lockdown, Jason was forced to set up his workstation in the unfinished lower level. Well, home offices can have their own benefits such as less use of resources, less travel, and less waste. Workplaces around the world nowadays are trying to achieve the status of zero waste office and are taking steps to reduce the waste produced. One such way could be by opting for a hybrid work or work-from-home model. That being said, many might not be comfortable with these systems in place, therefore companies tend to provide financial aid to employees in order to set up a home office.
To move things and modify home space for office requirements can be a hassle. But if you are able to draw up a plan and decide on the office space first, then you will figure out what are the accessories you might need to transform the room into your desired office space. There are home designers you can consult such as MIO Culture, to ask for recommendations and their expert opinion.
Coming back to Jason and Julie, the couple had no children when the home was built, so the extra square footage wasn’t a priority. “When we built the home, we planned to finish the lower level eventually, but we hadn’t needed the space yet,” says Jason.
After having their son, Jackson, the unfinished basement still made sense. Julie says, “When Jackson was younger, he loved playing in the basement. We had a basketball hoop, soccer and hockey nets, and a putting green at one point. It was nice to have the space unfinished to allow him to do that, particularly during the winter months”
But then the pandemic hit, and the entire family was working from home. It wasn’t ideal. “Our son had a desk in his upstairs bedroom to log in to Zoom classes for school. I was working from the main-floor home office. And Jason found himself working in the cold, unfinished basement, surrounded by concrete, sports equipment, toys, and storage,” Julie says.
“We had family members who had worked with Woodharbor before, and they were really happy with them,” Julie says. “We met with Cheryl and knew it was going to be a good fit.”
Cheryl Arganbright agrees. “It was great working with the Wulfekuhles. Julie had such great ideas, and I was happy to make those ideas come to life.”
Starting from a clean slate, Arganbright found her challenge was fitting the pieces together in the most efficient and comfortable layout. “One area was already stubbed for a bathroom. And they wanted a bar area, an office for Jason, and a space to hang out and watch movies,” Cheryl says.
Julie had two other requests. “I wanted some sort of eating area in case we were entertaining, and I wanted a fireplace because I was afraid it would feel cold down there in the winter.”
The couple wanted a comfortable space where everyone felt at home-a style that reflected the transitional style of the rest of the home and also Jason and Jackson’s love for the outdoors.
“One of the first challenges we faced was working around the ductwork,” says Cheryl.
Accommodating it would have resulted in a lower ceiling height, but altering the ductwork was out of the question.
Arganbright says, “Julie had said Jason liked things more rustic, so she wanted the space to include elements of that style but not feel like a cabin. We were able to deal with the HVAC ducts and structural beams with a tray ceiling design and then incorporate a little of that rustic feel that Jason likes with added beams.”
The dark wood stain of the beams is echoed in the shelving around the stone fireplace and in the bathroom as well as the finish on the bar cabinetry. To keep the space light and inviting, Julie chose the same soft greige (a combination of beige and gray) paint color for the walls with white trim that she used on the main level and LVP flooring.
“Cheryl’s design gave us everything we asked for,” says Julie. “We wanted the different living and work spaces but still wanted storage space. This has everything.”
Although they love the entire space, Julie says it’s the details that really demonstrate what makes Woodharbor special: the pocket doors, the stone for the fireplace and the bar backsplash, the cabinets and woodwork, and the quality of everything overall.
“Jason has a beautiful office, which is sort of what motivated the project. But we got so much more. Those barn doors are like a work of art on their own,” she says.
Despite starting the project at the height of the supply chain delays last spring, Julie says Woodharbor scheduled and managed the project so well that they weren’t really affected by those concerns. “The only thing we really had to wait on was the furniture. The project itself wasn’t delayed at all.”
Now that the long-awaited project is complete, the Wulfekuhles say they spend more time downstairs than they expected. “We spend so much time downstairs now that we have the space-exercising, entertaining, watching games and movies, and simply relaxing by the fireplace,” Jason says.
Julie adds, “Jason and I are both still working from home, and now we both have a great space to do that. We’ve been so pleased with the basement finished project. Working with Cheryl and everyone at Woodharbor was such a great experience. We already have a couple other projects in mind for them.”
- Remodeler Woodharbor