A Renovation Built for Today and Tomorrow

Filed in Feature Homes by on December 2, 2014



by Jackie Jenson | Photography by Bryan Wendland


Renovation is more than a vocation for retired real estate broker Dick Owen; it’s a passion. Owen, along with wife Judy, has been honing his remodeling skills for more than three decades – refurbishing older homes into stylish, updated wonders. Adding modern conveniences as well as a dash of distinctive character to their projects, the couple has a knack for converting older structures into freshly repurposed ones.


With the recent remodel of a Lake Louise home, the renovation became personal.


“We wanted to lend our magical touch to our own retirement home,” explains Judy Owen. “We have renovated a number of homes over the years, so we knew what we wanted and how to do it.”


The home’s curb appeal went from blah to spectacular.

The home’s curb appeal went from blah to spectacular.

“We also had a lot of help,” adds husband Dick.


For their personal home project, they wanted to craft a one-of-a-kind boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking retreat; something they could enjoy today, as well as a place to satisfy their dreams of tomorrow.


“We have always been coming to the lake here and finally decided we wanted our own retirement lake home,” explains Judy of their latest project.


The Owens ended up retiring on Lake Louise after venturing to the area many years ago after Judy’s mother remarried.


“My father died and several years later my mother remarried,” explains the renovation queen. “In 1982, they retired to Alexandria which was my stepfather’s hometown, and Dick and I have been coming to the Alexandria area ever since.


So, beginning in the fall of 2013, the Owens took a small 2000 square foot cottage and transformed it into a 3200 square foot lake home complete with a new addition, exterior overhaul, heightened ceilings, large lake-facing windows, and 70 foot-long lakeside deck and patio. “The house really is all new,” confides Judy. “We re-did almost everything.”



The home has a very open floor plan, so they raised the ceiling and added wood beams to help separate the rooms and distinguish the spaces. A gas fireplace was chosen for its virtually maintenance-free operation and slider doors were added to access the lakeside deck and give the space more open views.

Even more astounding than the many design elements they were able to incorporate in their home, was the incredible timeline they were able to maintain while doing it. In a mere seven months, the once small house was converted into an elegant retirement home, complete with lake views and guest quarters.


“We started in November and finished in June,” says Dick. “Our contractor was able to work through the winter which really moved things along.”


The couple was able to stay on such a tight schedule, they say, due to a wonderfully detailed floor plan created by local designer Betty Ravnik of Ravnik Interior Designs, Inc. and the fantastic work of contractor, Jon Haabala, Jon Haabala Construction, Inc.


Both designer and contractor are local to Alexandria.


“Betty gave us a wonderful floor plan to work with and Jon did what he said he would do. His follow up was just the best. His work is top-notch. He is such a great communicator,” notes Judy.



The flooring under the expanded kitchen area was reinforced so that it could withstand the extra weight incurred by the recently added granite countertops and stone surround for their island.

“Jon was just amazing,” Dick shares. “We were very impressed with what his team accomplished during the cold and the snow of last winter.”


Taking their floor plans one step further, the Owens added beams to the newly lifted and vaulted ceilings.


“The special wood ceiling beams help to separate the rooms and distinguish the spaces in our very open floor plan,” describes Judy.


“The beam work was so well done too,” adds Dick. “Jon had two finish carpenters do the beams, and they did such a nice job. The staining and finishing on the beams is just great,” he says. “The stain on the beams also coordinates well with the beautiful kitchen and bathroom cabinets and closet systems built by Finewood Structures.”


In addition to raising the roofline to accommodate the new 9-foot ceilings, Haabala’s crew also reinforced the flooring under the expanded kitchen area so that it could withstand the extra weight incurred by the recently added granite countertops and stone surround for their island.


Because the home was an older home being renovated to include modern, heavier finishes such as granite an stone, Habaala  engaged an engineer to double check the subfloor span to ensure it could handle the additional weight. Upon review, they decided to add two beams to carry the extra load. Newer floors are built to carry such loads; older ones were not, notes the contractor.



Dick notes there really is only one key to a successful renovation project: Use knowledgeable professionals and do what they advise you to do.

Because this is the couple’s retirement home, accessibility upgrade were also incorporated into their floor plan. These improvements would guarantee that the house would be a pace where the couple could easily get around even if a walker or wheel chair were needed in the future. Some of the enhanced additions include: an open floor plan, durable ceramic wood-like floors, larger than average door widths, and a set of double doors in their front entry for easy access and furniture moving.


In short, most everything is handicap accessible down to the gas fireplace that was installed ensuring that the couple would never have to haul in wood in their golden years, confides Judy.

“Our goal with this home was to do everything right once, and other than paint, never have to do anything to the house again,” confides Judy. “So we used materials that would last a long time, things like granite, composite wood decking, and the long-lasting paver steps that lead to the lake.”


“We even added a stone surround to our kitchen island,” continues Dick. “We have six grandkids. We knew we wanted something very durable.”



The wonderful lakeside deck and patio takes advantage of the beautiful view.

“We moved the new furnace to the center of the home, actually to a closet in the basement, so that it would be out of the way but also be able to distribute heat evenly and efficiently throughout the home,” Dick explains.


The mission from the start with this project was to keep everything nearly maintenance-free, notes the couple. This went for the outside of the home too. “We built a wonderful lakeside deck and patio that takes advantage of the view and allows play inside and out,” explains Judy.


“We used composite decking and pavers to ensure it would last a long time,” adds Dick. “We also added a few curves to the design to give it a more pleasing look.”


After years of refurbishing homes throughout the area, Dick notes there really is only one key to a successful renovation project: Use knowledgeable professionals and do what they advise you to do.


Concludes Dick: “I am not a contractor or electrician. Hire pros and listen to what they say!”


More photos, including photos not seen in the magazine, are available in the slideshow below.



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