Cameron and Elsa Granato love almost everything about their three bedroom, 2 ½ bath home in the heights of Indian Springs in the far north.

It’s the right size now, but there is enough room if they have kids. The courtyard is backed by a green space and there is plenty of room for their two Weimaraners to let off steam. There was even enough space for the two to have a home office in the event of a pandemic.

Still, the home was what is known as builder grade, meaning that during construction, buyers chose from a limited selection of builder-supplied options for fixtures and finishes, such as countertops and cabinets, flooring, lighting, windows and more. This is why so many country houses are so alike.

Because the original buyer of the home had to walk away from the deal, the couple bought after it was over, so they never got a chance to make all of those choices.

“The floor plan was perfect, but a lot of the finishes, like the granite kitchen counters, were not what we wanted,” agreed Elsa, 36, a research administrator at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The facade of Cameron and Elsa Granato’s house

Jerry Lara / Personal Photographer

Since builder-grade homes are also typically built with inexpensive materials – to keep costs down for both the buyer and the builder – the couple compiled a list of things they wanted to improve shortly thereafter. moving into the house in 2017.

Topping the list was the kitchen, although for budgetary reasons they initially tackled several smaller and less expensive upgrade projects.

In the backyard, for example, they removed the patio railing to open up the space, wrapped the wood posts in brick, and upgraded the light fixtures. They also installed limestone pavers and flower beds to break up and soften what had been a monotonous expanse of garden grass.

And they added an outdoor kitchen.

“The builder had it installed for a sink and installed a gas line for a grill, so that was good,” said Cameron, 36, vice president of business development for a records management company. “We hired a contractor to do the job.”

Inside, they added shutters to several rooms and purchased designer-level light fixtures, including a wood bead chandelier in the entryway and a large circular chandelier with an electric candle above the living room seating area.

A large circular chandelier with electric candles hangs above the living room seating area.

A large circular chandelier with electric candles hangs above the living room seating area.

Jerry Lara / Personal Photographer

Finally, after completing these small upgrades, the couple turned their attention to the kitchen, which overlooks both the dining room and the living room. “We do a lot of cooking and entertainment and cooking is very important to us,” Elsa said. “We wanted to do it right. “

While they had planned and managed the previous jobs themselves, for the kitchen project, they contacted interior designer Melissa Molina, whom Else had known since they were both students at the University of the Incarnate verb. “I wanted Melissa’s help because there were so many decisions to be made that it would be overwhelming for me to try and do it all on my own,” Elsa said.

One decision she made was to keep the cream-colored kitchen cabinets, which have a nutty glaze and a slightly distressed look.

“I’ve seen these types of off-white cabinets everywhere from my grandmother’s house to new homes,” she said. “They are classic and timeless, and they will never go out of style. “

Once that decision was made, most of the other material choices they had to make were based on how they would complement each other. They changed the cabinet hardware, for example, adding champagne bronze colored knobs and handles.

“I like them because they’re not too brassy or too golden,” Elsa said. “They’re more discreet, so they blend in with the rest of the kitchen. “

Then they replaced the granite countertops, which were honey yellow with brown stains, with a cool white quartz. “The other countertops were definitely not my style,” Elsa said. “But white works so much better with cabinets.”

She almost opted for a dark gray or even black stone, but Molina dissuaded her. “It would have been so daring, we were a little worried about how it might affect the resale value of the house.”

As a compromise and to add a touch of daring, they decided to paint the island’s wardrobes in black. “We love it because you don’t see the dark until you get to the other side of the island,” Cameron said.

They also replaced the island’s original double sink with a brown composite granite single bowl sink. It stands out well against the white countertop and is easy to maintain.

The island cabinets have been painted black to contrast with the cream colored cabinets.

The island cabinets have been painted black to contrast with the cream colored cabinets.

Jerry Lara / Personal Photographer

“It hides dirt and doesn’t look like another stainless steel sink,” she said. “And if we ever change the cabinets, it’ll go with just about anything.”

The mosaic backsplash is also gone, replaced with a subtly textured white ceramic subway tile.

From initial design to completion, the kitchen renovation took approximately 2.5 months. It would have been faster, but the work was carried out at the height of the building material shortage linked to last summer’s pandemic, according to Molina.

“We had to wait to receive delivery on the sink, faucet and (counters),” she said.

“Fortunately, there was no lumber involved in the project,” Cameron added with a laugh.

Once the kitchen is complete, the next areas on the upgrade list include the main closet, guest bathroom, and powder room. And after that? Perhaps a backyard pool – the ultimate upgrade.

[email protected] | Twitter: @RichardMarini

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