You never know what a little online browsing might lead to. For Steve and Joan Beightler, it triggered a complete home remodel.
The couple was living in Sacramento when they purchased their 1935-built Cayucos home in 2003. Complications with Joan’s new job caused them to put off plans to rebuild for five years.
“It was a good opportunity to do some research,” said Joan. “We took the time to learn things like how the sun shone in the house and what we might or might not like.”
The Beightlers read design magazines, watched decorating shows, toured model homes, visited home shows, and even snapped photos of nicer hotels while on vacation. After a time, they had accumulated an ample portfolio of ideas.
Then one day, Joan, a champion Internet bargain shopper, found the ideal tumbled travertine flooring tiles online.
“I came home and she said she had found a great sale and had put a deposit on 1,600 square feet,” Steve reminisced. “If we weren’t ready before, I knew we were then. It was time to get going.”
The couple knew that, in order to afford their wish list of custom features, they would have to do nearly all of the work themselves. So Joan, who is a human resources manager at Cal Poly, handled most of the design work. Steve, who is a retired Cal Fire battalion chief, performed most of the construction. He hired contractors for big jobs such as drywall and roofing, and also hired friends and family to lend a hand on occasion.
They demolished the old house, except for one 18-by-30-foot section of foundation and floor.
“When the demolition was done and the last Dumpster was gone, I stood on the small part that was left and thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh what have I just done?’” said Steve.
The remodel took the home from 1,500 to 1,900 square feet and gave it a contemporary Craftsman style.
Having lived in the house for five years, the couple was able to tailor their design to the way they used the space. They installed a light in every closet, built two pantries (one for food, one for serving pieces and small appliances), and splurged on a central vacuum system. Realizing their dislike for unsightly extension cords, they had 12 electrical outlets installed in their home office. They even built a window seat in the master bedroom just so their dog, Maggie the maltipoo, would have a comfortable perch to view the street.
The guest room was designed with Steve’s mother in mind, should she need to live with them in the future. They built extrawide doorways, wider clearances in the kitchen, and curved walls in the entryway and guest bathroom to make it easy to maneuver with a walker or wheelchair.
Good lighting was critical to the Beightlers. Their lighting system incorporates general, ambient, task and accent lights specifically customized to their needs. For instance, their dining room has a series of recessed lights with individual switches that illuminate different parts of the dining table, depending upon the number of diners.
Energy efficiency was another top priority. The home has solar power, seven skylights, and dimmers on all switches. They used multiple low-voltage lights instead of fewer highervoltage ones, so that they only turn on as much light as they need. They repeated the benefits of government rebates on many of their energy-efficient purchases — all researched online by Joan.
Joan’s savvy online shopping scored them deep discounts on materials, décor and appliances. It helped them to afford a few luxuries, such as a warming drawer for the kitchen. Joan found the item, normally priced at $700, on clearance at a Sears outlet for $217.
“It takes a lot of extra time, but in the long run, you save a lot of money,” she said.
Joan found ways to save, even when she shopped locally. For instance, they purchased all of their light fixtures at Acropolis Lighting in San Luis Obispo to obtain a volume discount. The closet system for the master suite was a demo item, purchased for less than half of its original price. They found their pewter door handles, which were more than $50 each online, at Tuesday Morning for $4.99.
The Beightlers acquired design ideas from multiple sources as well. When they couldn’t find the right size headboard for the master bedroom, Joan took a tip from an HGTV show and made her own fabric-covered one. HGTV was also the inspiration for a reef aquarium built into their great room wall by Tropics of San Luis Obispo. From their draftsman, Geoffry Augustt of Central Coast Drafting in Santa Maria, they took the idea to build their office like a cubicle, leaving the top portion open to maintain a connection with the great room.
The entire remodel took two years to complete. The Beightlers took their time with finishing touches such as furniture and paint. (They sampled 17 shades of tan before they found the right color for their bedrooms and hallway.)
“Waiting to remodel gave us a new perspective. If we jumped right in, I think we would have had a lot of disappointments,” said Joan.
Steve, who found the project “hard but rewarding,” summed up the experience by saying, “We were able to build our house with the things we wanted and the way we wanted it. I guess the true proof is that after living in the house for eight months, I haven’t found a single thing I would change.”