A Las Cruces couple shares lessons learned from their latest remodel project
Written by Cheryl Fallstead Photography by Steven Kavanagh
Greg and Kathy Switzer say they almost always have a remodeling project in mind and tackle something, indoors or out, each year. The Switzers are big fans of HGTV and DIY shows, finding ideas to incorporate in their Picacho Hills home, which features sweeping views of the Mesilla Valley and Organ Mountains.
They moved into the Showcase Home built by Mike Floyd in 2004 and, although they started with a beautiful house, they’ve added their own touches to it over the years. Most recently, it was replacing the countertops and backsplashes in both bathrooms as well as the laundry room.
The home feels Southwestern with contemporary touches, including rounded corners, vigas, a kiva fireplace, and plenty of open space. For their bathroom remodel, they wanted to enhance the contemporary feel. The counters were covered with the same porcelain tile as the floors, but after 14 years, they felt the grout needed to be updated and they wanted something more modern.
Kathy advises that for a successful remodel you need to hire good, experienced people. Greg says, “We went to several places in town and we settled on Mesilla Valley Design Center on Amador. They’re really nice people and very, very experienced. The manager, Gabe, put in our granite in 2004, unbeknownst to us, so he had already worked in this house.”
“To do that kind of project, you have to move things. You have to take all the drawers out and take everything off the walls because dust goes everywhere when the tile is broken out.“
At Mesilla Valley Design Center, they explored the samples and decided that the contemporary look they wanted would be achieved with quartz rather than granite. They brought home several samples and chose something different for each of the three areas they were targeting. Kathy says about the quartz for the master bath, “When I saw it, I thought, this jewel tone looks so cool!”
Once the surfaces and sinks were selected, the staff from Mesilla Valley Design Center came and laser measured the spaces. The next step was to remove the current countertops, but first the Switzers had some work to do.
Greg says, “To do that kind of project, you have to move things. You have to take all the drawers out and take everything off the walls because dust goes everywhere when the tile is broken out. Things are going to get dirty. We set up tables in the living room and bought racks to store clothes elsewhere in the house. We moved everything out of both bathrooms and the bedroom closets.”
To make sure you can find things you’ll need during the renovation, they suggest, “Treat it like a trip. Have an area where the things you will use daily from the bathroom are readily available because they’ll get lost. Set out clothes to wear each day.” Despite their preparations, they managed to lose Kathy’s cell phone for three days under a pile of clothes, they share with a laugh.
The project included quartz countertops with undermount sinks for a smooth look, as well as glass tile backsplashes and new hardware in the master bath. Since they were wreaking havoc in the house anyway, they decided it would be a good time to paint the interior, so they ensured the new countertops would go well with the paint, which was the same color throughout the house.
Greg explains that it took a full day for the old countertops and sinks to be removed, then some sheetrock repair had to be done and they brought in an electrician to move an outlet. Greg says that when a remodel is being done, one should carefully think about anything you want changed in the space because, “This is your one chance to do it economically.”
Next was installation of the new counters, sinks, and hardware. Finally, the house was painted, with the entire project taking about two weeks.
The Switzers stayed home while the work was being done, available for consultation on any questions that came up. Fortunately, they had the work done in the fall when they could enjoy their patio. (Kathy suggests avoiding having remodeling work done in spring windy season since doors often must be left open as the workers come in and out with materials and tools.)
Greg adds, “There are little things that happen and you can make quick decisions. Questions like: Where do you want this? Do you want a straight edge or a curved? Items we’ve never discussed yet may need a decision that day. There are a lot of things you can solve by being there.” Plus, he admits, he enjoys the entire process and happily pitches in to help.
Finally, Greg advises, “Enjoy it and have patience. Because the transformation of the bathroom is worth the effort.”