Winning Strategies for Central Iowa Homes

Metropolitan Des Moines receives ample recognition each time the community tops a list: Best City for Young Professionals, Best Metro for Home Ownership, Best Region for Economic Strength, Best Community for Families. Should it matter how we stack up against our peers, either nationally or within other mid-size Midwestern cities? What does it tell us about ourselves, when we compare quality-of-life metrics and evaluate community planning and efficacy.

Stephen King, Executive Director of the Des Moines Arts Festival stops by Neymaster Law Firm gathering and visits with Mary Cownie.

Stephen King, Executive Director of the Des Moines Arts Festival, chats with Mary Cownie outside Neymaster Law’s Friday night social across from the Festival’s main stage.

With metro Des Moines leading so many National key indicators for urban living we celebrate these community measurements, as they not only highlight what we are doing well, but also where weaknesses exist and focus needs to be applied.

What does it matter if local businesses win awards? How does the community benefit when regional business leaders push the respective envelope of their individual industry,  succeeding against peers from across the country? Similar to the 3rd party review offered urban centers, businesses benefit from similar acknowledgement of their strengths, which in turn also reflects challenges or limits within these companies.

Haas Table

Custom furniture and hand-crafted details reinforce the creative design strategies and consistent project management required to repeatedly deliver award-winning projects.

 At Silent Rivers, we appreciate the scrutiny and evaluation provided by national competitions within the remodeling industry. Within this review process, we have the opportunity to highlight successful client renovations by submitting before a expert jury, typically comprised by remodelers, architects, editors and other housing professionals. Doing so, we see how Silent Rivers stacks up against peers on either coast, and in particular those in larger metropolitan markets. It teaches our staff a great deal about current trends, the caliber of design and craftsmanship expected by different judging bodies, and impact we have within residential  renovation from projects large AND small.

Beyond the lessons we learn comparing projects, we assess how we measure against larger national companies, especially the tenured residential design+build teams throughout the United States. We savor the opportunity to influence national perceptions of Central Iowa, helping to characterize the strength and vibrancy of our community. We have seen this influence within the voices of industry editors and writers who have occasionally commented over the years, often surprised, about the caliber of design and diversity extending from our hometown, Des Moines, a ‘rural’ marketplace from their urban perspectives, typically rooted in journals from Chicago or Washington DC.

Cove lights, warm wood built-ins, and a gently arched ceiling create a master bedroom retreat

Cove lights, wood built-ins, and an arched ceiling define a master retreat.

 So we remind them that great design and ideas are not exclusive to large urban mainstays, but that incredible passion and expression resides in the heartland, and the success is each project is inspired by great clients who see opportunity in their home and chose to remain in Central Iowa. We will  feature a few winning projects below, highlighting a defining strategy for each project. The varied solutions reinforce the diversity of aesthetic and home ownership within a community we all love and call Home.


Des Moines: #1 Best Place to Remodel!

Custom cabinetry was built for the peninsula/island and main kitchen counter.

Recognized in all three categories: Historic Preservation, Green Building, and Whole House Renovation, one over-arching tenet of this project’s design was the dedicated use of salvaged and recycled materials, and integrating these disparate materials into a cohesive palette and consistent atmosphere. Admittedly, incredible results came from a very limited budget for project of this scope and complexity.


Mid-Century Modern Living Room

This mid-century modern home in the Salisbury Oaks Neighborhood won several national awards for the sensitive restoration of its 1958 Usonian architecture, maintaining and restoring original finishes while upgrading lighting that enhanced both form and function. Design intent remained true to the home’s signature floor plan while updating mechanical and electrical services throughout, and increasing much needed storage in home’s triangular hub: the kitchen.




Featured in Qualified Remodeler magazine during 2013, the entry to this West Des Moines home was recognized as a specialty project, one which uniquely utilized custom cabinetry to redefine a sitting area directly adjacent to the front door, providing desired privacy and a warm, calm destination for reading and meditation.


This lake home kitchen renovation initiated trends locally when it was won for its Asian-inspired design, using a deep-coffee stained cabinetry and contemporary detailing. Beyond the styling of materials and form, the signature design strategy was to fully engage the lake-view to the rear by opening the kitchen and unifying the living space it adjoined. Of course, staff loves the rift-sawn oak grain patterns in the cabinetry, which subtlety reinforces the customization of the kitchen and the expression of our clients.




While atypical for a remodeling award, we submitted the creation of the Des Moines Arts Festival Hospitality Suites as a specialty ‘interior’ project and both Qualified Remodeler and Professional Remodeler magazine gave us special recognition for our company’s creativity and our out-going effort to engage Central Iowa’s arts community. They honored our efforts to partner with the Festival, the City of Des Moines, and other trade partners in order to feature a merger of sustainable, green materials with a high-level of artistry, quality, and hutzpa. We have one of the best arts festivals in the world, and we feel strongly that Des Moines’ housing stock should be as unique and inventive. Let’s get to it!



Updated for a Victorian home in the Owl’s Head historic neighborhood, this hall bathroom remodel took a highly traditional approach, featuring quarter-sawn oak details in cabinetry and mosaic tiles that harkened back to an era long admired, but forgotten by the fast pace of our industrialized, mechanized society.



This award-winning Glen Oaks basement remodel, complete with wine cellar and theater room.

This award-winning Glen Oaks basement remodel, complete with wine cellar and theater room, started as a long vacuous room terminated by a fireplace reminiscent of vacuous bowling alley. What a transformation! A complex project that required weaving together distinct use patterns and aesthetics; its success was predicated on the careful integration of this weave, blending light contemporary tones and lines with the rich hues and texture of a more traditional period. The result: this project will receive a gold designation this week (October 24, 2014) during the International Remodeling Show. An added bonus, not evident to jurors, was the friendships fused between our design and production teams and the homeowners. The rapport and intimacy of remodeling is hard to express in pictures, but when clients’ trust us to our element the meaning and joy of a project far surpass any hiccup that might occur within the process between concept and completion.


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