Remodeling bio: Sudden Valley couple endures live-in makeover of home


Wind Storm

Elizabeth Scroggs and her husband, Don, had their kitchen and several other rooms remodeled to make their Sudden Valley house more open and more functional.


When Elizabeth and Don Scroggs moved to their Sudden Valley home in 2005, they knew some things needed fixing.

The house built in 1977 had dry rot and drainage issues. In the kitchen, low ceilings made the room feel claustrophobic, and they couldn't open the refrigerator without running into the louvered doors on the pantry.

That's not all. The dishwasher was across the kitchen from the sink. The master bathroom had a black toilet and tub, and the entrance to the crawl space under the house was inconveniently located in the carpeted master closet.

The Scroggs remodeled the basement in 2007. For the second phase, they rebuilt the top floor of the house last summer.

The Scroggs moved to Bellingham from California, where they owned a ranch-style, single-floor home. For their recent remodel, they worked with designer Luther Allen of Uncommon Sense Design to create plans for Elizabeth's vision of an open first floor.

Elizabeth says she was impressed that before the July demolition started, Chuckanut Builders sent a letter to each house on their small, one-way street, letting neighbors know about the job and listing phone numbers for both the site manager and the homeowners, so anyone affected by noise or limited parking would know who to call.

"They had that respect," she says.

The company's tagline, "Committed to the Community, Committed to the Craft," is something project manager Forest Chiavario says Chuckanut Builders lives up to by working with neighbors and community groups and by purchasing sustainable local products.

"We do a lot of focus on reducing the waste during the build and reusing materials whenever possible," says Chiavario, a co-owner of Chuckanut Builders.

The Scroggs moved downstairs during the remodel, something Chiavario says he doesn't recommend for all homeowners, but it seemed to work well for their project.

The contractors first helped salvage and repair irreplaceable cedar paneling that had been damaged by flooding before their work started. They later raised the flat ceiling in the kitchen to a pointed rooftop, opening the room up and allowing more natural light to enter through large windows that line the rear of the house.

An island in the kitchen was removed and a new dishwasher was placed near one of two sinks installed in the new space.

The crew also expanded the guest and master bathrooms, which are separated by a wall, into what used to be a small guest bedroom. To create openness, the guest room was converted into a hallway storage space with cabinets and closets.

The floor plan now flows from the hallway, around the corner to the closet space, around the corner to the master bathroom, then to the master bedroom, with no doors separating the rectangular space.

"I didn't want doors, I wanted as much light as possible," Elizabeth says. "There was some openness beforehand and we just capitalized on that."

The bathrooms received new tile, and the tubs were replaced with curbless showers that gently slope to drains. The master closet was moved and the crawl space entrance was placed outside.

Cheri Christian from SVC Interiors and Design helped Elizabeth pick laminate wood- and granite-style countertops for the bathrooms and kitchen, to give the look Elizabeth was hoping for and to stay closer to their budget.

The Scroggs came in over their $120,000 budget because they chose higher-quality materials for the kitchen and bathrooms, Elizabeth says.

In the balancing act of staying on target with the contractor and their design, the Scroggs did splurge on knotty alder cabinets for the kitchen, tiles for the showers instead of fiberglass, and a frosted-glass door for the pantry to replace the louvered doors.

"What people need to keep in mind, too, is that even when you have a budget, you have to expect there will be costs that will come up you haven't anticipated, even with the best planning," Elizabeth says.

The house, which the Scroggs call the "Enchanted Cottage," is now functional and attractive, but still casual and comfy, fitting a country-style theme, Elizabeth says.

"One neighbor said 'You've taken the dumpiest house on the block and made it beautiful,'" she says.

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at

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