People

Decisions in Concrete

February 1, 2019

Taking on a remodel, whether a kitchen or an entire home is a daunting task to say the least.  Not for the impatient, nor the easily stressed and certainly not an easy task for those without vision.  Now, consider taking on one of the most unique homes made entirely of concrete, from dated, dark and somewhat sad to modern, chic, full of light and oh-so-amazing.  The feat requires steady focus, an uncompromising level of taste, big vision and guts.  Enter Jake,  the man with loads of talent behind this incredible remodel and re-awakening of one of the valleys most unique homes.

Jake grew up in Kingman, AZ and moved to Phoenix shortly after High School.  Jake spent a few years in Los Angeles and San Francisco, refining his interior design skills through education both formal and informal.  Ultimately returning to the valley to pursue a creative career in the city he knows best.  Jake is amongst the talented crop of young creatives looking to make their mark on the new Phoenix scene; bringing a thoughtful and unique style to the Southwest.

N: How did you start/get into remodeling homes?

J: I’ve studied and worked in Interior Design, Architecture, and Fashion Merchandising. Ultimately, I wanted to be my own boss, and execute an overall creative vision ranging from structural and mechanical updates to material, furnishing, and styling decisions. Homes are a good scale to work with, and the more unique the better.

N: Where did you start with the remodel?

J: This house is special. I initially wanted it for myself. I like change though, and the overall plan of this property deserves a long-term loving resident. My approach with this home, and any future project, will be to design at a level on par with something I would live in.

N: How did you pick a contractor? Architect? Etc.

J: Like any situation where you hire out work, you turn to reliable people you trust first who might have recommendations. This was my first experience with this contractor, and architect for stamped drawings and permitting. It’s best to vet and have as many questions prepped to feel out the situation, and make sure you’re getting what your scope and budget require. I feel like I got very lucky, and we all worked through the dozens of design iterations well together, but if something doesn’t feel right, seek out 2nd, 3rd and 4th opinions, if not more.

What was your initial vision for the home?  Did it turn out the way you wanted it to?

J: It’s difficult to not have preconceived notions of how something is going to turn out, because it usually is not to be what you expected, but that’s a good thing. In this case, we reworked ideas so many times, that the end result exceeded expectations, but was definitely trial and error right up to the last week of work completion. Some ideas like the large Spanish archway were evident and necessary from day one, but you constantly need to reevaluate how one decision will affect another.

N: What is your favorite room/design element of the home?

J: That’s a tough question, but the large Spanish archway was crucial to the home creating movement through the public living spaces and “open concept” without sacrificing the coziness of each defined space.

N: How do you make critical decisions? Do you ever doubt yourself- how do you move past that?

J: Self-doubt is a given, without that you wouldn’t feel the need to rework ideas. There does come the moment when you need to make a final decision and move on though. This comes back to working with the right contractor (designer/architect/subcontractor, etc.), who will work with you on multiple solutions, and help with deductive reasoning to select what’s most appropriate.

N: How would you describe your design style/aesthetic?

J: Again, I like change, so I hope it’s ever evolving. Right now, I’d say a combination of minimal and clean, but not sterile, cozy and eclectic, without being overwhelming. I’m attracted to simplistic and classic forms as a base for longevity, and adding small touches of interest that can be changed out if desired.

N: What’s next for you?  Project? Business opportunity?

J: Most likely another remodel project, but that also has to be the right property becoming available at the right time. On top of that, potentially consulting, possibly staging. Right now, my ideal project is reworking the entirety of an existing unique property (landscape, shell, interior), maybe someday fully realizing a custom property from scratch.

N: What words of wisdom can you pass on to others that want to take on a total remodel?

J: Be patient, be open minded, the cheapest bid isn’t always the best, set a realistic budget and time frame because you will extend, and you will lose sleep but it will all work out.

N: Will it be hard to say goodbye to the concrete house?

J: Yes, it was a labor of love, but I will be happy seeing it go to good people, excited to make it their home.

The concrete house is located in North Central Phoenix, the home is currently under contract and set to close soon.  As for Jake, he is starting a custom design firm, JMW Designs. We look forward to seeing Jake’s next project and will share with you here.

Written by: Misha Renteria, Photography by : Jesse Miller

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