Midtown Marvel

Story by Julia Moore • Photography by Adam Holzer, @Finding Realty


Claire Joseph and Dave Koot found a spacious home with a large yard in the heart of Anchorage, just minutes away from Claire’s job and the grocery store. Their dream home had just one problem: it was unlivable.

General contractor:
Dave Koot, homeowner
NCP Design Build
Vannoy Electric
Storm Proof Roofing
Blake’s Plumbing & Heating; Central Plumbing & Heating
DK Custom Drywall; Big Mountain Paint; Drywall, Generations Paint & Drywall
Super Floors of Alaska; Sav-on Flooring
Traditional Marble & Granite
Kelly Lawn & Landscaping; A-1 Lawn & Landscaping
Allen & Petersen; Sears
Windows, doors & cabinets:
Builders Millwork Supply
Furnace/mechanical ducting:
Muotka Mechanical
Deck piles:
Pilings Plus
Shower glass & mirrors:
Replacement Glass
Steel for handrail:
John Clark
Anchorage Sand & Gravel
Starting with a clean slate

“When we bought the place, it wasn’t just a matter of fixing things up,” says Dave. “It was so ‘totaled’ that it had to be pretty much starting over.” Dave has been a builder for years, so he and Claire jumped at the chance to create the perfect home, even if it meant stripping everything – walls and all – and starting fresh.

“There was not an opportunity to just do a cosmetic renovation,” Claire says. Instead, the couple had to wipe out the entire framework of the home to create a clean slate. Maximizing on this opportunity, Dave found uses for many wasted spaces – like turning the empty space under the truss into a dry storage area and putting the new furnace into a tiny room where the old stairwell used to be.

They also moved staircases, shifted rooms and added a few keyless doors downstairs. Dave loves the convenience of not needing keys when you leave the house, and now Claire can actually enjoy the backyard. “The way the house was designed, you couldn’t easily get out through the bottom level to the backyard, and the backyard wasn’t somewhere you wanted to be,” she explains.

Unsightly blacktop covered the entire backyard. Thinking ahead, Claire and Dave decided to start in the backyard first. They tore up the ugly surface and planted grass, now lush and vibrant. Today, their beautiful backyard is the perfect spot for hosting barbecues and relaxing around a custom-built firepit. But while the grass was growing outside, Claire and Dave were busy inside, tearing up the floors and knocking out the framework – which would later be used as firewood out back.

DIY to the limit

For the first months of the project, the house was basically a shell. And during that first winter, it wasn’t even a heated shell. “(Dave) stripped it out, and then it didn’t have heat. So he worked in the cold a lot during the first winter,” Claire remembers. With the uncomfortable conditions, it took about 10 months before Claire and Dave could move into the home.

To make living in the house possible while working on it, they put all their focus into one area initially. From Dave’s experience, you need one area finished with the essentials when you’re living through a renovation. “We had our kitchen, that upstairs bed and bathroom, and that was the place where we lived – where we could sleep comfortably, cook food,” he elaborates.

Despite having their creature comforts taken care of in this small area, completely renovating their home while living in it was a struggle.

Living in the home while taking it apart (and then putting it back together) is stressful. There are a lot of late nights of hard work, and it follows you through to morning, says Claire. “Dust never, ever, goes away, and cleaning only lasts maybe an hour!”

Comfort, style and curb appeal

Dave and Claire put special thought into every detail of the house, from the quartz countertops, to the flooring and the tiles that are used in every bathroom and the entryway downstairs to give the home a cohesive feel. “We didn’t try to spend (a lot of) money, but we managed to,” says Dave when describing the high-quality materials they purchased for the home.

Upstairs, there’s beautiful, sustainable bamboo flooring. “The boards are put in on their sides, so when you sand down, you don’t have to sand down a whole level of ‘wood’; you just sand down as much as you need,” Claire explains the longevity and appeal of the hardwood-esque flooring. Downstairs, there’s carpeting with thick padding and thinner Berber than most carpets, providing a floor that everyone comments on, says Dave. Another hot topic on the house is its five-star energy rating – a pretty big achievement in Alaska, where saving on energy and cutting back on heating bills are important.

The house, once a boxy structure, was also given an exterior facelift. Dave added a porch with a slanted overhang to the front of the house to make it pop a little. “It just looked like a big brick sitting on the corner, and (the slanted overhang) just gives you a sort of contrast,” he says.

“We just tried to make it modern and ‘future proof’ basically, so there’s not too much maintenance, and it doesn’t cost a lot to run," says Dave.

Inside and out, the home is simple, smart and stylish – and ready for its long life ahead.