As far as remodels are concerned, you might think that the most dramatic transformations are also the most expensive and the most complicated. The waterfront Beach Drive remodel on Camano Island, featured in the July 19 Wall Street Journal and executed by principal architect Dan Nelson of Designs Northwest Architects, proves these misconceptions wrong. The resulting transformation was so complete that neighbors believed it to be a newly constructed home, yet the remodel was cost effective and, at times, surprisingly simple.

“Most of the remodel was an exterior intervention,” Nelson said. “It was an amazing transformation. We turned into a modern house. It’s now contemporary, eclectic, and warm.”

He affectionately described the home’s original exterior as something reminiscent of a mid-century Econolodge. Renovations included removing false dormers from the mansard roof, adding corrugated steel panels, expanding window openings overlooking the water, and enhancing the entryway with arbors and steel columns.

While the interior also received a facelift, its transformation was achieved through strategic, less intensive changes. The staircase was improved by replacing wooden handrails, which were dark and heavy, with modern stainless steel cable.

Homeowners Ron and Judy Hoefer recognized the home’s potential, despite its lackluster, dated exterior. Intrepid remodelers, it was Ron Hoefer who discovered the original wooden stairs hidden beneath carpet. Willing to contribute more than a little elbow grease, Hoefer sanded and stained the stairs.

The Hoefers were inspired by shingled beachfront buildings, both commercial and residential, in Canon Beach, Oregon, where they have traveled annually for almost forty years. The Hoefers had previously built and remodeled several homes together, so their experience and input was an asset. “We had a great team that communicated well and really listened to us. It’s so important to choose a good team of architects, designers, and contractors,” Ron Hoefer said. “We ended with a great product, as well as our sanity, love, and appreciation.”

For homebuyers looking to achieve a similarly impressive, cost-effective remodel, Nelson advised evaluating a home’s structure. “The trick is to find a house that has a good structure already,” Nelson said. “It quickly becomes expensive when you decide to make structural modifications, for example, by adding a second story or other addition.”

The Hoefers enjoy spending time near the water with their friends and family, and enjoy demonstrating their hospitality. When asked about his favorite feature in the home, Hoefer said, “When you walk in the front door, you see a wall of windows that showcase the beauty of the water, Mt. Baker, and the Cascades. I suppose that’s what I love best about it. I love to see the sun rise over Mt. Baker in the summertime. And in the evening, when the sun is setting, you get this moon river effect coming across the bay.”

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Architect | Principal Architect Dan Nelson with Project Architect Matt Radach, Designs Northwest Architects, Stanwood
Interior Designer | H2K Design, Stanwood
Contractor | Impel Construction, Stanwood
Photographer | Lucas Henning, Bellingham

" 'The trick is to find a house that has a good structure already.'"