Design Bar extended

When it comes to remodeling homes, there are different degrees of renovation. There’s “rehabbing” and “reconditioning.” There’s also the process of “restoring” houses to their original glory – especially in Southern Scottsdale where vintage houses from the 1950’s and 1960’s are in abundance.

Then there’s the toughest task of all: “reconstruction.”

That’s exactly what brothers Justin and Brandon Nee did with their 1,700 square-foot house in the Hy-view neighborhood. They bought their home on a three-house cul-de-sac in 2009 – and the house wasn’t just rundown, it was hardly habitable.

“We were the owners of a large lump of junk,” Justin recalls thinking.  After viewing the before photos of the house from when he and Brandon took possession, there’s no arguing with Justin’s description of the house as a “real dump.” That’s why the neighbors welcomed the Nees with open arms – so they didn’t mind when the brothers turned the small cul-de-sac into a construction zone for the three and a half months it took to rebuild the house.

Purchasing the home in the height of the economic downturn had advantages: The Nees were not only able to buy the house from the son of the original owner for a good price, they were also able to engage some of the best vendors who were eager to work on the house because of the lack of construction jobs caused by the spiraling economy.

Looking back to six years ago, Justin says they bought the house primarily because of the big lot on which it sits — specifically, a little more than 12,000 square-feet. The huge back yard provides a postcard-like view of the Papago Buttes and also accommodates an Airstream trailer, circa 1964, the year before the Nee’s house was built.

Justin is a designer both by occupation and education. In fact he has a degree from Ohio State University in interior design and soft furnishings. Justin also studied textiles, clothing and human ecology. All of which came in handy as the house was rebuilt.

Even though Justin gutted the interior of the house except for the studs, he used the original floor plan as a roadmap. Only one wall was moved in the process and a sunken front room was filled in to match the same level as the floors in the rest of the house. He also raised the ceiling to expose the ductwork that he refurbished in a polished metal finish. The natural cement floors have been ground and treated throughout the house.

The kitchen is undoubtedly the most stunning feature of the home. It also happens to be Justin’s favorite room. “Whenever I look back on some of the design work I’ve done over the years, I sometimes see things that I might do differently today,” he admits. “But when I look at this kitchen, I wouldn’t change a thing. I think it will stand the test of time.”

The Nees brothers’ home has a warm and friendly feel. Visitors get a strong sense of the thoughtfulness that went into the rebuilding process. That sensitivity surfaces when Justin speaks about why they chose to invest in Southern Scottsdale.

“It was never our intention to remodel the house and then flip it back on the market,” Justin says. “We’re not just invested in Southern Scottsdale, we’re rooted here.”

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