Old charmer vs. new stunner

To build a home or remodel an existing one — that is the question. The answer depends on what you want in a dwelling.



The Sanfords’ renovated kitchen features a custom window seat that adds function to a space that might normally be overlooked, while stainless steel appliances complete the modern remodel.

Do you love your current space but think it needs a facelift? Do you want a home with the charm and character of a past era, or do you want something completely new? Are you up for the challenge of remodeling a home or space you currently occupy? Do you have the imagination and flexibility to work around an existing structure’s bones, or do you want to build to your exact specifications? Do you want to live in an established neighborhood with stately old trees, or are you more of the “blaze new trails” type?

We asked some of Tulsa’s top builders, contractors and designers to weigh in, share their tips and give us the scoop on today’s top trends.

Pros and cons

Remodeling a home can be a valuable investment.

“Most renovations take place in very mature neighborhoods with significant infrastructure, shopping, entertainment and dining, where home values are higher and renovations can easily add to the value of the residence,” says Bill Powers, owner of Powers Design and Build LLC.

On the other hand, building a home from the ground up offers homeowners expanded possibilities when it comes to design and function.

“The advantage of building new is that you are getting the best of today’s newest products, including energy-efficient items, the latest engineered framing products and the latest technology that comes in the form of wiring and planning,” says Adam Curran, builder and owner of Adam W. Curran Homes Inc. “Remodeling can give you some of these items, but a lot of items simply can’t be introduced without a huge cost.”


The kitchen features an island, custom cabinetry with LED undermount lighting and granite countertops.

A tale of two homes

Pat and Julie Sanford bought their midtown Tulsa home five years ago. Built in 1958, the three-story, ranch-style home has a large basement and pool — perfect entertainment spaces for their children and grandchildren. Although the home was outdated, the couple knew they could make it their own.

“It was the perfect house for us except it needed a lot of updating,” Julie says. “We weren’t seeking a home to remodel, but the bones of this house were right for us.”

Over the past five years the Sanfords have remodeled the entire house, including gutting and rebuilding two bathrooms, turning the basement into a game room, replacing carpet with wood floors, painting and landscaping. The final piece of their remodel puzzle — a new and improved kitchen — was completed in January.

“Kitchens, living areas and master suites are the most commonly renovated areas,” Powers says. “The direct benefit is the comfort, convenience and enjoyment for the family. The upgrades will always add value to the residence and improve salability.”

Working with Jim Means and Lynn Knight Jessee of Kitchen Concepts, the Sanfords took their cramped galley kitchen down to its studs and removed two walls to open and expand the space. The new kitchen features travertine tile floors, custom cabinets, undermount LED lighting, a subway tile backsplash, a new island, granite in black pearl, stainless steel appliances and a custom window seat.

“What I advise people to do is talk with a kitchen designer first (before starting construction in a new build or remodel),” Means says. “You need to talk with someone first and ask, ‘Do I want to cook in this kitchen, or do I want to entertain in this kitchen, or do I just want it to be pretty?’ There are a variety of different aspects that we can design into the layout so that you can get what you want. My philosophy is ‘creating kitchens for the way you live.’”

Two years ago Scott and Kim Case moved into their new home, built by Adam Curran, in the Broken Arrow planned community of Berwick on Cedar Ridge. The couple wanted a customized home they could build around their family. Their customizations included a media room with two rows of leather recliners, the latest in audiovisual equipment and a surround sound system, and a beverage and snack bar.

While media rooms have been “hugely popular for some time, we are starting to see some really innovative products become more affordable and accessible,” Curran says. “LED multi-color lighting is a must-have for all my clients, and 3-D projectors are almost standard. It really makes staying in for a movie a real joy.”

The Case home also features a state-of-the-art smart home operating system called Control 4.

“The system controls our security system, lighting, televisions, garage doors, outside cameras, HVAC and door locks,” Scott Case says. “What’s really cool is that it is all controlled from an app on our phones or smart devices.” 

A large granite-topped island with an induction cooktop and 5-foot galley sink anchors the Cases’ new kitchen.Location, location, location

Whether buying new or remodeling an older home, location is always a key factor.

For the Sanfords, midtown was the ideal area to settle.

“I’ve lived in Tulsa all my life, and I like midtown,” Sanford says. “We just think these older homes have so much personality. The neighborhoods are established. As far as convenience, it’s in the middle of town and easy to get anywhere.”

But many, like the Case family, are choosing to make their homes on the perimeter of the city in new, upscale neighborhoods and master-planned communities centered around amenities such as green space and water features, hiking and walking trails, country clubs and community pools.

Living in one of these communities is about more than just the home; it’s a lifestyle. Owasso’s 3,000-acre master-planned community, Stone Canyon, for example, touts its outdoor and nature-centered community as a main appeal.

“Stone Canyon appeals to those who desire a country feeling, yet still (want to be) connected to neighbors and have the convenience to the city,” says Sharon Baker, Stone Canyon’s general manager. “Whether it’s fishing, golfing, running, hiking or just watching nature, there is space to enjoy it, yet jumping on the highway to get to the airport (or) downtown events or running errands is all within a short distance.” 

A home in Stone Canyon comes with access to the recreational stock lake for fishing and boating, a beach area, an amphitheater that hosts sunset concerts, a climbing mound for kids, a labyrinth for an inspirational walk and miles of nature trails.

When building or purchasing a home in a planned community, consider your surroundings and choose a location right for you and your family’s lifestyle.

“I think anyone interested in building a new home should consider the location,” says Steve Surles, marketing director for The Robson Cos. at Forest Ridge. 

“Consider how the neighborhood looks (right) up to the point you select a home site — the amenities within a community, activities that such a community offers, proximity of schools if (you) have children, convenience to major highways and a strong homeowners association to ensure your investment is secure,” Surles says.

Forest Ridge, a master-planned community in Broken Arrow, boasts amenities such as jogging trails, a public restaurant, a pool and fishing lakes.

In many planned communities, buyers have the option to choose their lot and design their custom home. If time is of the essence and you can’t wait the five to eight months to complete construction, many premier builders keep homes under various stages of construction, allowing buyers to purchase something already in progress that can be completed to their personal taste.

Top trends

Whether topping off a remodel or newly built home, most owners are choosing similar finishes in line with today’s trends. Transitional design — a mix of traditional and modern elements — is in vogue.

“Tile is the easiest way to give your home a transitional look,” Curran says. “Implementing that beautiful natural travertine is very traditional, but introducing a crushed glass tile that still has some earth tones really gives that space a nice transitional look.”

Wood floors are a timeless mainstay because they work in any style of home. Ironically, making new wood floors look old is the contemporary application.

“What’s becoming more popular is distressing,” Curran says. “While distressing floors isn’t new, doing a slight distress of the cabinets is becoming very popular. With more and more people wanting to add a touch of modern to their homes, distressing your cabinets and mixing in some fantastic glass tiles really creates an amazing transitional look that has become ever so popular.”

Both the Case and Sanford families chose granite for their countertops. The Cases’ kitchen features an 11-foot-by-12-foot, granite-topped island complete with an induction cooktop and 5-foot galley sink. While granite remains a popular choice, Caesarstone, or engineered quartz, is emerging as a common choice for countertops because it is a greener product, non-porous and easy to clean, according to Means.

When it comes to layout and function, wide-open spaces remain the most popular design request.

“Open-concept ‘media’ kitchens are the most popular remodel in our work,” Powers says. “It brings all aspects of living, eating and entertaining into one space with seating for 10, a 55-inch television, surround sound, lots of counter space, (a) beverage center and great appliances.” 

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December 2018

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More information

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