Get inspiration from these amazing home improvement projects in Alabama
Need inspiration for a home improvement project? Look no further than the 2022 Alabama Remodeling Excellence Awards.
The annual awards, presented by the Home Builders Association of Alabama, honor outstanding craftsmanship, innovation and attention to detail in remodeling projects throughout the state. The competition expanded last year to include custom builds, as well.
To qualify for entry in the 2022 competition, projects had to be completed in Alabama between June 30, 2020, and December 31, 2021. A panel of judges — made up of builders and remodelers from around the state — reviewed and scored the entries.
Winners in 20 categories were announced at an April 9 event in Montgomery. The winner of a People’s Choice Award was revealed on April 15: a Sam Jackson’s Emporium project in downtown Tuscaloosa, created by The Builders Group. It’s also this year’s champ in the Commercial Renovation category.
Here are details on the winning projects, from luxurious custom home to a fancy basement bunkhouse. You’ll find a photo of each project, info on the winning builder and a description in the story below.
More photos are showcased in the gallery at the top of this post, highlighting a few winners and runners-up that especially caught our eye. In some cases, we’ve also included “before” images that provide sharp contrasts to the finished products. (See the full list of 2022 winners and runners-up here.)
Best in Show and Custom Home Over $1 Million
Winner: River Brook Design & Construction (LaPrado Custom Home), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “This 4,200 square foot custom build was designed with a European feel to fit into its historic neighborhood, with a cedar roof, copper gutters and locally-cut natural fieldstone to add to its charm. To give the interior an open feel without being TOO open, a large entry way was created to separate the kitchen, living and dining rooms. With outdoor views a priority, the kitchen was situated in front of a bank of windows. To keep the view open, a traditional vent hood was eliminated, and a Wolf vent installed that pulls air up from the cooking surface of the LaCornue French range.
“Keeping outdoor entertaining in mind, a butler’s pantry was created near the outdoor living space. It does double duty as a laundry room, with the washer and dryer hidden behind casework and cabinets designed to conceal full size laundry baskets. The owners’ suite continues the home’s European influence with marble slab fronts on the vanity and full marble slabs in the shower. Outdoor living spaces, including a covered patio with a large fireplace, help the owners take full advantage of their surroundings.”
Whole House Remodel Under $250,000
Winner: Precision Homecrafters (Hawksbury Lane), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “These homeowners wanted a new layout for their home’s main level, which originally consisted of several small, cut-up spaces including a galley kitchen, a small living/dining room, and a porch that was unconditioned and could only be used 6 months out of the year. To achieve a more open-concept and functional plan, interior walls were demo’ed to create a new kitchen, living and dining space. The kitchen was relocated to the back of the house, where it could better take in the backyard views.
“A large center island offers plenty of space for storage, prep work, and seating. A combo laundry room and pantry were built to double the storage that the kitchen originally had, with a barn door closing off the space. The porch was converted into a powder room, giving the family a much needed first-floor bathroom. In the kitchen’s original location, an 8 foot wall was built to create an entry way, and a mud bench installed for a convenient place to store bags and coats upon entry. New lighting, including glass pendants above the island, undercabinet LED lights, sconces, and recessed can lights provide ample lighting throughout the finished space.”
Whole House Remodel $250,000-$500,000
Winner: J. Manifold Construction (Waterfront Dream Home), Lee County Home Builders Association.
Description: “The water frontage on this property was what attracted the family to this lake home, but they knew they’d need a full house remodel to turn it into their dream getaway. The roofline was raised in order to bring dimension to the once-drab interior. An open concept was created for the kitchen and family area by removing a center wall that divided the original space. The kitchen features a large island and contrasting cabinets.
“Reclaimed rough sawn beams were installed to highlight the vaulted ceiling. The beams and heart pine flooring continue into the sunroom, where floor to ceiling windows bring in the lakefront views. A once-unusable basement space was redesigned with built-in bunks, a new bathroom, and space to play. The original owners’ suite had low ceilings, small closets and a non-functioning bathroom. Incorporating wood into the new bath design and on the bedroom’s vaulted ceiling helps reflect the home’s natural surroundings.”
Whole House Remodel Over $500,000
Winner: R & R Construction (Shandwick Place), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “The main goal of this remodel was to create space to accommodate the homeowners’ parents while maintaining a sense of privacy, independence, and comfort for both families. The exterior underwent a full remodel, with modified roof lines, the addition of wing walls, brick, stone and Hardi accents, new windows, and fresh exterior paint. An addition was built featuring separate living quarters which include a secondary living suite with a full bedroom, bath, kitchen, rec room and concrete storm room.
“Tying the two separate living spaces together is the original kitchen, which underwent a total transformation. Dark hex tile and marble countertops contrast with the white cabinetry and a large center island can accommodate multiple family members. A screened porch with outdoor fireplace allows the family to enjoy indoor/outdoor living year round.”
Kitchen Remodel Under $75,000
Winner: Precision Homecrafters (Modern Transformation), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “These homeowners wanted to relocate and enlarge their small, dark galley style kitchen, which was located at the front of the house right as you walked in the front door. The main interior walls were demo’ed to create a more functional kitchen with a new laundry room and pantry. The original back window was widened to give more of a view at the kitchen sink. All new two-toned cabinets with darker bases and white upper cabinets were installed to create a larger visual space.
“The gray picket backsplash tile provides a contrast of texture and color. Two deep, full-height cabinets provide pantry storage. The laundry area has upper cabinet storage, a hanging rod, and a quartz folding counter above the washer and dryer. A barn door keeps the laundry room and pantry more open to the kitchen and allows a natural flow between the two. An entryway with mud bench area was created where the kitchen originally stood, with custom drawers and cubbies for added storage.”
Kitchen Remodel $75,000-$150,000
Winner: j. fante studio (Hollywood Kitchen), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “Set in a 1930s home in a historic neighborhood, this kitchen required serious overhaul with the plumbing, electrical and gas systems before the transformation could really begin. The original kitchen was gutted and turned into a mudroom and walk-in pantry, and the old master bedroom became the new kitchen location. Locally crafted custom inset cabinets with honed marble countertops were installed. Cabinet panels conceal appliances, including the 30-inch column refrigerator and freezer pair, which are next to a pantry cabinet housing a coffee maker and small appliances.
“The LaCornue range is highlighted in a dual radius arched opening. A hidden niche on one side and recessed shelves on the other allow for quick access to everyday cooking needs for this former professional baker. Reclaimed wood beams tie in with the new character white oak flooring and island. New Bessemer Glass French doors and triple casement windows over the sink bring a balance of old Southern tradition and new construction techniques.”
Kitchen Remodel Over $150,000
Winner: Taylor Burton Company, Inc. (Chef’s Kiss), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “The existing kitchen was choppy, dark, and tucked away. Several load bearing walls were removed to open up the space, and a triple window was installed flush with the countertop to add natural light. A 12-foot island was built to include a six-foot sink with two Waterstone faucets. Other features include a Wolf range with Waterstone pot filler, quartzite countertops and backsplashes, and brass and stainless steel fixtures. Built-in fridges, wine coolers, and a wet bar make for easy entertaining.
“A unique trayed ceiling above the island was created by repurposing the kitchen’s flooring and cutting and installing the boards in a herringbone pattern. New custom white oak flooring was installed to match the rest of the home. Dated wooden handrails on the adjacent staircase were replaced with custom handmade iron handrails.”
Bath Remodel Under $35,000
Winner: Precision Homecrafters (Powder Bath at the Lake), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “A lack of counter and storage space, meager lighting, and dark, drab paint colors made this powder bath feel small and uninviting. To create a better functioning and updated space, an adjacent coat closet was demo’ed and incorporated into the bath. The sink area was moved to a larger wall and became the focal point of the project. A local craftsman created the new vanity with a single inset drawer and polished nickel tapered legs. A vessel sink sits on a 3-inch piece of silestone quartz.
“The entire sink wall is covered from floor to ceiling in a herringbone pattern tile to create a beautiful backdrop. An oversized infinity mirror was installed to complement the large size of the vanity. Plumbing fixtures and accessories in polished nickel were added, and recessed LED can lights and sconces at the mirror provide ample lighting for the new space.”
Bath Remodel $35,000-$70,000
Winner: Precision Homecrafters (Bear Trace Bathroom), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “These homeowners were ready to exchange their poorly lit builder-grade bathroom with an awkward layout for new cabinetry and lighter finishes. The old bathroom was demo’ed and the unused jacuzzi tub was removed, enabling the shower to double in size. In place of the previous large shower threshold was built a zero-entry shower with a bench and several niches. The new shower features large, polished wall tiles with minimal grout lines, and the shower head wall is highlighted with a 2 by 4-inch specialty tile pattern.
“All new cabinetry with tower storage was installed. Custom pull-outs in the linen cabinet provide easy access for harder to reach items. Gold-tone fixtures and hardware echo the warm veining in the tile. The once-dark bathroom was updated with a new lighting scheme that included rows of recessed LED can lights throughout the shower area and clear sconces flanking the mirrors to reflect plenty of light in the new space.”
Winner: Precision Homecrafters (Hollywood Addition), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “The owner of this 1928 Tudor-style home wanted to expand the breakfast nook into the garden area and create a new dining room, covered porch and grilling area. To create the new interior addition while connecting it to the kitchen, the backdoor was filled in to become an interior window opening looking into the new dining room. The kitchen countertops were replaced to extend down the wall and into the opening for more counter space. A bar area was created with stools on the dining room side for additional seating.
“The exposed brick openings coordinate with the rustic flagstone flooring and rough-sawn cedar and pine ceiling. Outside, copper gutters and a custom steel and copper awning were installed. Recessed down lights and modern black ceiling fans highlight the covered porch. New flagstone walkways were designed to flow through the garden area. The small entry porch on the driveway side of the house received a new roof to match the dining addition.”
Winner: R & R Construction (Shandwick Place), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “The exterior of this home, built in the 1990s, was overdue for a facelift. To help give it a modern look, the brick was painted white. The rooflines were modified and wing walls created. Stone, brick and artisan Hardi board were added. New windows were installed. At the rear of the home, a new screened porch was designed to bring the outdoors in. Dark shutters and trim tie everything together.”
Winner: Precision Homecrafters (Porch with a View), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “This aging deck was not in keeping with the dramatic city skyline views enjoyed by the homeowners. To create a space worthy of the views, three specific areas were designed, beginning with a 475 square foot open deck large enough for a grilling area and a new dining table with seating for 10. A 270 square foot covered porch was built for relaxation and entertaining, with a comfortable seating area. A fireplace was built featuring Eldorado stacked stone and hearthstones, and a custom reclaimed cedar mantle taken from an old bar in Tennessee.
“An intimate two-person dining area was created near the home’s existing French doors. A new staircase and landing were constructed to allow for the underdeck and backyard access. A wrought iron gate at the top of the stairs provides a safe place for the owner’s dogs to be let out to enjoy the new outdoor space.”
Winner: J. Manifold Construction (A Tight Squeeze Reno), Lee County Home Builders Association.
Description: “Removing an obsolete fireplace and hearth helped turn once unusable space in this basement into a bunk room for this growing family. Durable shiplap painted white was used to construct the six bunks, while the bunk steps received a contrasting stain. The stairwell leading into the basement was also updated with drywall, stained wood steps, and an iron railing to add personality to the space. The old half bath was reconfigured for a full bath large enough for a full shower, double sink vanity, and private water closet. A large wall-mounted TV provides entertainment in this new space, that can now comfortably sleep nine without overcrowding.”
Space Renovation/Residential Specialty Project
Winner: Precision Homecrafters (Lake House Laundry Room), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “These homeowners wanted to turn their ‘90s laundry room with minimal storage into a new laundry with custom organization and a state of the art washer/dryer. To give the space the storage it needed to also serve as an extra pantry and coat closet, an entire wall of full-height cabinets was designed with custom organization and pull-outs. Double door cabinets with roll-out shelving provides ample storage for pantry items and small appliances. A new Samsung Flexwash and Flexdryer were installed that can accommodate up to four loads at a time.
“A pull-down hanging rod above provides additional hanging space for clothes. Double base cabinet pull-outs to the right of the dryer house laundry supplies. A new sink area was created underneath the feature window to take in lake views while providing a functional folding counter. The sink wall features Calacatta marble hex tile with light gray veining that matches the Shaker-style cabinetry. Warm-toned accents and new lighting brighten up the space.”
Winner: Trick Construction & Remodel (Historic Duplex), Home Builders Association of Tuscaloosa.
Description: “The new owner of this 100-year-old house had lived in it as a college student and had a strong sentimental connection to the property, which he wanted to turn into a duplex for rental purposes. The overgrown lot was cleared and the weak foundation shored up. The siding was replaced and a new metal roof installed. The brick on the front was cleaned and shored up. Inside, the ceiling was lowered to 9 feet to accommodate a new attic joist and firewall while offering a way for more efficient heating and cooling.
“A fresh coat of paint brightened things up, and new modern cabinets and appliances were installed in both units of the duplex. The uneven floors were leveled to create a smooth, seamless floor, and new tile was installed. Two exterior patios and storage rooms were added along with a fence at each unit for a small but enjoyable outdoor living space.”
Custom Home Under $500,000
Winner: Willow Homes (Condemned to Custom Craftsman), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “The original structure on this lot was not only an eyesore, but it was also in complete disrepair and had been condemned by the city. A new 2,300 square foot, four bedroom home was designed to take its place. Wanting to pay homage to the Craftsman style of the original home, plans were drawn with a similar front elevation. Inside, bold paint colors and built-ins throughout the main level play up the Craftsman character.
“The kitchen includes a large island topped with Carrara marble, stainless steel appliances and designer light fixtures. The primary bath features a large soaking tub, slate hexagon floor tile, spacious semi-frameless shower, and separate double vanities with quartz countertops. The new home blends into its historic surroundings and looks like it’s been there as long as its neighbors.”
Custom Home $500,000-$1 Million
Winner: Valere Homes (Eggers Residence), Baldwin County Home Builders Association.
Description: “The exterior of this European-style home features copper roof accents, wood working shutters, and steep gables. The grand foyer shows off the 12-foot ceilings that also run throughout the great room and kitchen. An ornate fireplace and coffered ceiling add drama to the greatroom. In the kitchen, a massive island with oversized corbels is the room’s centerpiece. Commercial grade appliances and 10 foot tall cabinets give inspiration to any level of cook.
“The primary bedroom and bath offer rest and relaxation. The bedroom includes a large sitting area with ample natural light for reading, looking out at the pool, or watching wildlife. The primary bath features separate vanities, a free standing cast iron slipper tub, and an oversized shower with three separate spray functions. Carefully crafted trim and woodwork throughout help make this an elegant yet relaxing home that the homeowners can enjoy in their retirement.”
Winner: The Builders Group (Sam Jackson’s Emporium), Home Builders Association of Tuscaloosa.
Description: “Located in the heart of downtown, this 10,500 square foot building had originally served as a supermarket, then later a local emporium. The new owners wanted to renovate it to serve as its office space but still salvage as much of the original character as possible. Not keeping in its original character was the metal awning on the front exterior, so that was removed. The building’s signature church steeple was refinished, and a functioning clock added.
“The reception area features a built-in desk framed by custom made, LED color-changing signage, creating a statement for clients when they enter. A sitting area and a large conference room, both located along the front of the building, are brightened by the upgraded storefront windows. Individual offices were created as well as a large open workspace designed to be used as floating workstations. Two insulated ‘phone booths’ were constructed to give the occupying agents maximum privacy for client meetings and conversations. The use of original materials such as the scraped tin ceiling tiles and brick left exposed throughout help preserve the building’s history.”
Winner: BMR Homes, Inc. Remodeling & Restoration (Blue Haven), Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
Description: “Already in need of updating, this home was ravaged by a devastating fire. The restoration gave the homeowner the opportunity to keep her homeplace while making some much-needed changes inside and out. The green paint exterior was updated to a bright blue. The back stairs were dangerous, so they were rebuilt to code, making them safer to navigate. The kitchen and dining areas were rebuilt to provide comfortable places for hosting extended family gatherings for holidays and birthdays. Not only is the home now a beautiful, welcome sight on her neighborhood corner, but it has also greatly improved the homeowner’s quality of life.”