Homeowners partner with Gehman Design Remodeling to “wake up” tired living spaces.
by Bill Donahue

“This house would be perfect, if only …”

Almost every homeowner in America has uttered such words at one time or another, and almost every answer would be slightly different. Whereas some homeowners choose to live with compromised living spaces, others invest to turn their “what if” into a reality.

Dennis D. Gehman, MCR, cites one example of a couple who moved to Ambler to be closer to family. The couple had sold their business in York and found a beautiful, five-bedroom home that backs up to a fairway at the golf course of Talamore Country Club. They envisioned family and friends occasionally coming to stay at their new 3,780-square-foot home, so they needed to keep four existing bedrooms. At the same time, they wanted a larger master bathroom, a renovated hall bathroom, and the addition of a guest bathroom, plus an updated master bedroom, complete with hardwood flooring and a spacious new walk-in closet.

The couple chose Gehman’s firm, Gehman Design Remodeling in Harleysville, to complete the multifaceted renovation. As with any complex home makeover, the project included a few interesting sidebars. One example: Gehman’s team used the “dead space” of the second-story foyer to add the new guest bathroom—essentially creating a new room by claiming unutilized space. Another: The walk-in closet, which was created by using the fifth bedroom, included a three-way mirror and a “secure space,” hidden by a motorized sliding door, where the homeowners could store jewelry and other precious items.

“We initially looked at reducing the size of the bedrooms to add the guest bathroom,” says Gehman. “Then we proposed putting it above the foyer or the family room, both of which are two stories tall. They decided on the foyer, which had a big window that now shines into the newly added bathroom. Now there’s not as much natural light in the foyer, but the homeowners are OK with that.”

The “dark and tired” master bathroom required a complete change. “Nothing stayed in the same place,” Gehman says. Renovations called for the addition of a 4-foot-by-7-foot glass shower with multiple showerheads, a soaking tub, and a makeup vanity bookended by sink cabinets. Once lacking natural light, the hall bath now includes a window to flood the space with more natural light.

Both the master bathroom and the newly added guest bathroom both include a zero-threshold shower, as well as blocking for future grab bars, when and if needed. Although nothing about either bathroom suggests that it was built for an older couple, the home’s renovation will make it easier for the couple to age in place. The home has two stairways to the second floor, and Gehman suggests the back stairway could easily be retrofitted with a motorized stairlift, if desired.

The project began in early May 2020 and finished approximately five months later. It helped that the homeowners did not move in until after Gehman’s team completed the renovation.

“The time we spent up front in design and preparation really made the project go smoother,” Gehman says. “Because they chose to remain out of the area while we were in the house, we were able to focus the extra time dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. We don’t always have that luxury, because not everyone has the wherewithal to live somewhere else for weeks or months at a time.”

Gehman says the owners are thrilled with the finished result. They weren’t the only ones. Gehman Design Remodeling submitted the project to the 2021 Regional Contractor of the Year (CotY) Awards—under the category of Residential Interior $250,001 to $500,000—from NARI, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. It should come as no surprise that the project won a CotY considering the fact that Gehman’s firm has won at least one award for its remodeling work every year since 1996.

“In communities like this one in Ambler, these are houses that are maybe 25 to 30 years old,” Gehman says. “The homes are well built, but many of them are just tired. We’re happy to work with homeowners to wake them up a bit.”

Gehman Design Remodeling
355 Main Street
Harleysville, PA 19438
(215) 513-0300
Photo courtesy of Gehman Design Remodeling
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, June 2022.