Why Choose an ESOP Design + Build Company: How 100% Employee-Ownership Benefits Our Clients

October is ESOP month, and we thought it was worth sharing why Harrell Design + Build created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in 2001 and how being a 100% Employee-Owned company benefits our clients.

What is an ESOP?

In 1974, Congress enacted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the first of a series of tax measures designed to encourage employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).  

Today, in approximately 6,500 businesses in the United States, 139 million employees hold most of their company’s stock, effectively making them owners. The most common form of employee ownership in the U.S. is the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) – a tax favored non-taxable entity that is specifically designed to buy, hold and distribute value of the employee owned company among their active employees.

In California, there are 1,000 ESOPs and one million employee-owners. You might be surprised to learn that many companies that you are familiar with are Employee-Owned.  One of the largest California-based Employee-Owned businesses is San Francisco-based Recology, which became 100% Employee-Owned in 1986. 

In addition to tax benefits available to Employee-Owned businesses, employee ownership helps to attract and retain employees, providing them with the potential of building long-term wealth. 

ESOP companies also tend to cultivate highly involved work cultures where employees are encouraged to think and act like owners, because they are owners. 

Harrell’s Pathway to Employee-Ownership 

In 2000, Harrell’s founders, Iris Harrell and Ann Benson, and the company’s management team, decided an ESOP would benefit the company and its employees, and so they set out to arrange and affect a sale of the company to their ESOP for the benefit of the then and future employees.  Anthony Mathews, one of the nation’s original ESOP and employee ownership experts, was hired to help the company navigate the process of establishing an ESOP at Harrell.  Over time, the Harrell ESOP has distributed significant returns to Harrell employees in their retirement while providing new opportunities for current employees to build their wealth as well.  Anthony later took a seat as one of the independent directors at Harrell and he continues to assist with the operation of the ESOP and the development of real wealth for our employees to this date. 

ESOPs are not without their complexities.  But with both our commitment to make our employee ownership real and powerful, as well as Anthony’s long history of experience on our side, the Harrell ESOP is a model for the community on how much of a difference it can make to have a corporate structure that includes an opportunity for all the employees to become beneficial owners and to make a considerable improvement in their position at retirement. 

Anthony says that he may have been instrumental in Harrell’s initial transition from a privately held business to one that was Employee-Owned, but he specifically attributes the real heart of the success that has been generated to the large group of dedicated employee/owners thinking and acting like owners and building a truly wonderful company along the way.  

Why Employee Ownership? 

Harrell Design + Build launched its ESOP to enable our staff to become owners over time, via contributions from company profits, with no out-of-pocket expenses to the employees.  

The value of the ESOP to our Employee-Owners is multi-faceted. A Harvard Business Review article states that ESOP companies are most successful when ownership and programs for worker participation are present. Ownership provides incentive for employees to work productively, and opportunities for involvement enhance productivity by providing channels for workers’ ideas and talents. 

“Employee-Owners realize significant financial benefits,” explains Anthony. “They increase employees’ retirement wealth by 400% compared to non-ESOP peer companies.” 

In addition to financial gains, being an Employee-Owner is also intrinsically motivating.  

Part of Harrell’s Mission Statement cites the goal of “fostering a safe, healthy, stable, challenging and growth-oriented environment for our Employee-Owners.”  

Being well informed and included in problem-solving and decision-making prompts Harrell Employee-Owners to feel, act, and respond like owners.  

According to Anthony, ESOPs have staying power, which also benefits the company’s clients.  

Ciro Giammona assumed the role of CEO in 2014 after helping the company become 100% Employee-Owned. “In ESOP environments, employees have a voice, are encouraged to pursue continuing education, are more engaged, and are paid appropriately,” explains Ciro. “This culture builds commitment over time.” 

Ownership Culture 

Compelling research and decades of experience show that Employee-Ownership is a powerful tool to improve corporate performance when companies have high-involvement “ownership cultures” in which well-informed and dynamic employees think and act like owners.  

“Ownership is one of our 10 Core Values” explains Ciro. “When employees see the bigger business picture and their role in it, it elevates their understanding. They realize what they do is essential to our success. They begin to think and act like owners.”  

In 2019, Harrell Design + Build’s culture of Employee-Ownership earned us the prized designation as one of the Best Companies to Work For in the Bay Area News Group’s Top Workplace Awards, and the California Western States ESOP Association’s ESOP Company of the Year.

When a company is 100% Employee-Owned, employees have a genuine stake in the company’s success and feel more inclined to make day-to-day decisions that drive business forward.  Employees take pride in their work because they have a real investment in the company’s success. In essence, ESOPs help make each employee an entrepreneur; they are working for their long-term future and the success of their team.  This, in turn, is highly beneficial to the company’s clientele. 

How Employee-Ownership Benefits Our Clients  

As a result of becoming Employee-Owned, Harrell’s company value has steadily increased. This gain stems from careful management and oversight specifically designed to maximize the benefit to the Employee-Owners. Our strategic growth plan has resulted in greater top-line results, increased production efficiency, reduced overhead costs, elimination of long-term debt, and adequate cash reserves, all of which also benefit our clients by keeping the company a reliable service provider for decades to come. 

Employee-Ownership also lends itself to longer tenures, especially in an industry with an average turnover rate of 30% annually. Factoring in recent hires over the past two years due to growth (we have more employees than ever before!), several retirements, and normal turnover, our average employee tenure is 6.5 years. 24% of our team has been with the company for over ten years.

A primary goal continually reiterated in Harrell’s annual Business Plan states: “As a 100% Employee-Owned Company, grow the Employee-Ownership (ESOP) culture with a focus on developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills, technical skills, personal development and accountability at all levels within the company.”  

Harrell underscores this goal via our Employee-Ownership motto of “See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It,” borrowed from the book “The Oz Principle by Craig Hickman, Roger Connors, and Tom Smith.  

At Harrell Design + Build, we believe that when Employee-Owners are empowered, their “self-accountability” increases, resulting in higher levels of individual and collective performance.  

We encourage everyone to act like an owner, and every Employee-Owner is tasked with and dedicated to our team’s success. Integral to Harrell’s success is providing an exemplary experience to each of our clients. On an Employee-Owner level, this translates to being empowered to identify and resolve problems, innovate, perform their best work, collaborate creatively, and communicate effectively.  

As a prospective client commented, “Wow! Everyone is an owner? That means everyone cares.” 

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Design + Build has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. 

Renewal Brings The Next Chapter

To Our Harrell Design + Build Friends,

Wow, it feels like ages since we last connected with you. We’ve been on an incredible journey of transformation from the inside out, all in the spirit of our latest Fall rebrand. And guess what? We have amazing news to share and are thrilled to announce that we are MOVING TO OUR NEW HOME IN MOUNTAIN VIEW!

For over 38 years, we’ve grown and evolved, constantly adapting to meet the needs of our beloved community. While we cherish our roots and never forget where we came from, we’ve realized that it’s time to breathe new life into “our own home.” Our own remodel is our way of preparing ourselves for the next 38+ years of serving you and our wonderful community, fulfilling all your home renovation dreams. And let us tell you, we wouldn’t have come this far without your incredible support and partnership!

And, why should you care about our new space?

Every aspect of our new home has been thoughtfully designed with YOU in mind – our valued client, friend, partner, and community member. Not only is it a highly functional workspace where our dedicated employee owners can create and innovate, but it will also serve as a collaborative and educational hub for our community.

Imagine stepping into our new space and immersing yourself in a world of possibilities. You’ll be able to see, touch, and experience various design elements firsthand, allowing you to make more informed decisions for your own space. It’s a truly transformative and engaging experience that we can’t wait to share with you! But that’s not all! We’ll be hosting numerous community events, providing opportunities for you to connect with neighbors and build lasting relationships.

So, as we embark on this exciting new chapter,

we want you to know that you are at the heart of everything we do. We are driven by the desire to serve you better, to provide a space that inspires and empowers you to bring your dream home to life. Together, we’ll continue to build a vibrant and thriving community, one renovation project at a time. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

On behalf of all our Employee Owners,

Lisa Sten

It’s Time to Renew

Dear Clients and Friends,

Today I’m writing to share some exciting news about Harrell! We wanted you to be the first to know that we are rebranding our company and changing our name to Harrell Design + Build.

Since 1985, when Iris Harrell founded Harrell Remodeling, we have become the recognized leader in the residential remodeling market on the mid-Peninsula and within Silicon Valley. Over the years we’ve earned our reputation for high-quality standards, have been recognized for award-winning design, and developed a proven process for building exceptional remodeling projects for our valued clients.

In 2014, we became 100% Employee Owned, and have grown into a mature and thriving company. In principle, we are the same trusted company you’ve always known, just with some new faces and an expanded team of talented employee owners.

After 37 years, we felt it was time to “remodel our brand” to reflect our growth as a company and team of designers and builders, passionate about the projects we take on.

Our new logo reflects a modern and clean aesthetic; using an H-inspired lotus logo is a symbol of enlightenment, positivity, and self-renewal. Our new brand also reflects the broader range of services we provide as a Design + Build firm. In addition to the Kitchen and Bath remodels we’re known for, our services include Whole House remodels, Outdoor Living spaces, ADUs and Additions, as well as Home Repair and Maintenance. The full-service capability we offer is in response to our clients’ desire to thoughtfully reimagine their homes.





We are honored to call you our clients and friends, and now as Harrell Design + Build, we are always here to serve you when “it’s time to renew.”

With warmest regards,

Lisa Sten

Don’t Miss Our Feature in Professional Remodeler!

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned Harrell Design + Build Receives Eight Prestigious Awards from NARI & NKBA for 2021

In the fourth quarter of 2021, Harrell Design + Build was recognized with eight awards from the Northern California Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Silicon Valley.

About the NKBA Awards

Established in 1963, the NKBA is a leading trade association for the kitchen and bath industry providing tools, research, certification, and events to thousands of professionals. The organization also offers consumer guidance, education, and inspiration. 

Aligned with its vision of “safe, beautiful, and functional kitchen and bath spaces,” the Northern California chapter of the NKBA holds an annual design competition open to its members servicing the residential kitchen and bath industry in the region.

For 2021, the Harrell Team received three NKBA awards.

Receiving first place was a spacious contemporary bathroom with a dramatic mosaic tile design that flows from the vanity into the shower, onto the bathtub surround, and artfully “spills”ed onto the bathroom floor. Second place was awarded for a large traditional bathroom remodel that embodies both elegance and Universal Design elements to allow the homeowner to safely age in place. 

And winning a third place NKBA award was a traditional bathroom renovation that modernized the aesthetic and functionality while staying true to the space’s classic look and feel, which the homeowner loved.

About the NARI Meta Awards

NARI is a national nonprofit organization comprised of remodeling professionals. The Silicon Valley chapter serves the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Alameda counties. NARI’s mission is to ensure quality work, encourage high standards and ethical practices within the remodeling industry. 

Each year, members are encouraged to submit projects to be considered for the reputable NARI Meta Remodeling Awards. Meta, short for metamorphosis, “signifies the transformation process and beautiful results that can be accomplished through a remodeling project.”

Categorized by project price point, the Silver, Gold, and Platinum awards encompass interior redesigns of kitchens, baths, living spaces, residential landscape design, specialty spaces, additions, and entire home remodels.

Of Harrell’s five NARI Meta awards, two were Gold, and three were Platinum.

On the heels of the NKBA design competition, Harrell received five NARI Meta awards, two of which were also NKBA winners.

The projects awarded Meta Gold include a stately bathroom remodel (that also received an NKBA third place award) and a >$500,000 residential interior remodel. The interior redesign met the specialized organizational needs for a Kosher kitchen and incorporated elegant elements of Universal Design. This project’s bathroom remodel also took a second place NKBA award.

Of the three award-winning Platinum projects, two were residential landscape remodels. The $100,000 to $250,000 outdoor renovation embraced a redwood grove as an enchanting play area and created an inviting Old World poolside pergola. This same project won a Meta Gold for its bathroom redesign.

The second Platinum award was for an outdoor living redesign in the category of >$250,000+ and reimagined all the outdoor spaces of the homeowner’s 1960s Eichler, including the garden atrium, a highlight of all Eichler homes.

The third project winning a Platinum award was a complete residential interior remodel in the >$500,000 category. The project scope redesigned multiple bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, home office, and a room explicitly tailored for the homeowner’s feline family members. 

Since its founding in 1985, Harrell Design + Build has won several hundred NKBA and NARI Meta awards. These accolades represent the company’s evolving craftsmanship, commitment to quality, and unwavering attention to design and detail for the clients they serve.

Your home can be everything you’ve ever wanted. If you are imagining a METAmorphosis of your Silicon Valley or Mid-Peninsula home, Harrell Design + Build’s award-winning Design + Build team can make your residential dreams a reality. 

Explore our website to experience a gallery of our projects, learn about our company, or schedule a complimentary consultation

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Design + Build has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985.

A Time for Reflection; A Time for Gratitude: Women Still Lead the Way at Harrell Design + Build

It’s that time of the year again, as we celebrate the holiday season and approach the end of the year, when the world slows just a bit and the season creates the time and space for reflection and gratitude. We reflect on the positive things that have occurred in our lives during the year, and on the challenges and hardships we faced. We are grateful for the good things in our lives and take inventory of the losses, contemplating how we move forward in the coming year. This year, a moment of gratitude is especially helpful to makes sense of an otherwise challenging year for all of us.

For Harrell Design + Build, as the year 2020 in business draws to a close, we find ourselves reflecting on our company’s ground-breaking history, the extraordinary year we have faced, the success we had as a company, and all the great possibilities that lie in the years ahead. Through it all, HRI has been grounded in a culture and values that embrace diversity and offers a gentler, more compassionate remodeling experience for its clients. But even more so, we find gratitude in our broad and diverse group of clients who have embraced our unique approach to Design + Build remodeling. They have been the foundation that helped build our great company.

Exemplifying the motto, “We never forget it’s your home®,” from the outset Harrell Design + Build made its mark by flipping the script on the typical jobsite mentality, providing a kinder, more considerate touch in our client interactions. From the beginning, company founder Iris Harrell instituted jobsite rules that embodied a woman’s sensibility and fell right in line with the corporate motto to respect our clients and their homes. For over three decades, these policies have been a key point of differentiating HRI from the average general contractor.

When Iris founded Harrell Design + Build in 1985, she was one of very few women in the construction industry. Her pioneering and visionary spirit shaped a Bay Area company that educated and elevated those around her – employees and clientele alike. That vision included diverse and deliberative hiring focused more deeply on cultural fit than prior construction experience. Her process of hiring based on one’s potential and ethos has resulted in numerous talented women assuming leadership roles, each of whom have been instrumental in advancing the success that continually carries us forward.

Lisa Sten, CR, CID, UDCP is a perfect example of the vital leadership roles women have held at HRI. And in March 2020, Harrell Design + Build once again welcomed a woman leader to its helm. Lisa assumed the role of CEO upon the retirement of Ciro Giammona, the company’s most recent past CEO who recounted, “My mother raised me as a feminist!” Sharing in Iris’s passion for excellence, Lisa is mentoring a new generation of women leaders to meet this moment, ensuring the future success of HRI while continuing to foster the culture and values upon which it was founded.

Before relocating to the Bay Area from Minneapolis, a mutual acquaintance connected Lisa and Iris, leading to Lisa joining Harrell Design + Build in October 2000. Lisa always wanted to be involved in helping to govern HRI. Over her twenty-year tenure, Lisa has taken on more responsibility and leadership, holding positions as Sales Designer, Sales Manager, General Manager, culminating in her transition from President to the company’s top position as CEO.

“I still embrace our long-standing mission to provide excellent customer service and be our clients’ ‘contractor for life’.” When asked about what it means to be a woman leader in a still primarily male-dominated industry Sten replied, “Harrell Design + Build has an inclusive culture that encourages new ideas and achievements regardless of gender. As Employee-Owners, we collaborate toward a singular goal, providing the ultimate quality and the best customer service to every client.”

According to Ciro Giammona, he stated emphatically that Lisa’s progressive entrepreneurial spirit, deeply-rooted understanding of the industry, and “get it done” attitude are reminiscent of Harrell Design + Build’s founder. “She embodies our company’s innate DNA and deeply entrenched core values. Through her leadership, Lisa Sten continues to elevate Harrell Design + Build’s already high level of quality, design, and customer care to even greater heights.”

Other talented female leaders also play critical roles at HRI. Senior Designer and Sales Coordinator, Gloria Carlson, CKD, UDCP, has worked at Harrell Design + Build for over six years. Gloria prides herself on listening to her clients, understanding their needs and lifestyle, which enables her to provide designs that are appropriate to how they live and the overall design of their homes. She also takes the lead in matching clients to other HRI Designers who then explore remodeling engagements with Harrell Design + Build.

Senior Designer and Design Coordinator, Sara Jorgensen, AKBD, CID, has been a key player at Harrell Design + Build for over 14 years. Sara is a stickler for process and helps guide all of our projects through the critical phases of design development, like feasibility and city plan check reviews. For her own projects, Sara starts with the initial planning stage, commencing with complex code city research. From the schematic floor plans to the design development for the entirety of the project, Sara works from a holistic viewpoint to the smallest of details that create the design’s “wow” factor.

Chief Design + Build Estimator/Specifier, Kathy Paul, has been estimating projects for Harrell Design + Build since 1998. In 2001, Kathy was promoted to Chief Estimator, and over the past 20 years has been leading the estimating team and been instrumental in developing Harrell’s comprehensive approach to developing projects through thoughtful phases from conceptual scopes of work to highly detailed build contracts.

Outdoor Living Designer, Lisa Parramore, APLD, brings a unique set of experience and skills to Harrell Design + Build. Lisa P’s passion for designing indoor-outdoor living spaces enables her clients to embrace the lifestyle for which California is celebrated. Her projects are informed by the special relationship between traditional Japanese architecture and their surroundings, whether it’s borrowing scenery from a distant landscape or creating a lovely courtyard vignette, Lisa P’s creativity is inspiring.

Divya Vijayanandakumar, LEED AP ID+C, UDCP, joined Harrell Design + Build in May 2019, and has already proven herself to her colleagues and clients alike. She takes a practical approach to designing spaces for clients, making sure functionality is weighted equally to design. Her charming personality makes her easy to work with and her practical approach to leading clients through the phases of design make the journey both pleasant and productive.

Harrell Design + Build’s design team offers a heightened appreciation for the finer points of style trends, mixing of materials, color, and cabinetry. Their practical knowledge of the home and inherent female touch affords them the ability to lead clients through a complex journey of design and value.

Despite having one of the industry’s most talented and award-winning design teams, “Collaborating with clients is a philosophy,” explains retired HRI Designer, Genie Nowicki. “If you engage the client in the design process, it’s a much stronger relationship.”

By involving every client in a collaborative process, listening to and understanding their distinct requirements, HRI’s female design leaders provide the love and care clients want, the quality they expect, and the flawless execution for which Harrell Design + Build is known.

As we enter 2021, we are incredibly grateful for our community of clients, many of whom have become friends and serial remodelers. Thank you for trusting Harrell Design + Build to transform your homes and make your vision a reality. We are inspired by the women in leadership roles that carry us forward into the future, and we remain indebted to Iris for the foundational and cutting-edge culture and values upon which she constructed the company. All of Harrell Design + Build’s Employee-Owners uphold the high bar she established for quality, relationships, and client care.

Since 1985, Harrell Design + Build remains Woman Founded, Client-Focused, and Employee-Owned.

Our Covid-19 Response

An important message from Harrell Design + Build

Dear Harrell Design + Build friends,

We hope that you are safe and healthy in your homes, and that when the need arises, you know that the Employee Owners of Harrell Design + Build will be there for you.

We are glad to be continuing work on our construction jobsites! For the safety of our clients, communities and Employee-Owners, our already-in-place protocols and procedures are aligned to follow County Health Orders and Safety Protocols, State, CDC, and OSHA guidelines while working in our clients’ homes. In addition to keeping sick employees off of our jobsites, we are doing daily temperature checks for everyone working on site and maintaining a daily log. Passers-by have written in with appreciation that we have implemented 6′ of physical distancing, hand-washing, and the wearing of masks. We’ve also been cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, and are partitioning work space when possible.

In light of COVID-19, we’ve pivoted to hosting webinars on Zoom. During this time we are still committed to providing you educational resources to make the remodeling process less stressful. We’ve enjoyed this new format and will announce our 2021 series soon. Whether you’re considering updating only certain rooms of your home, or remodeling the whole house, we have information to help you along the way!

We want to let you know the many ways that we are keeping your projects and our business on track:

  • Designers are holding live Zoom (video conferencing) meetings to continue with the schematic design process, make plumbing, electrical, tile and other product selections along with other aspects of design development, and are even presenting Contracts virtually.
  • Our Accounting team has ways to make it easy for you to pay any open invoices. We have our cloud-based BuilderTrend system as an electronic payment option, along with other methods. Please contact your Designer or our accounting team if you have questions.
  • To maintain our company culture, we’ve had regular “All Hands,” and our Sales and Design meetings via Zoom, and even an occasional Zoom lunch break! We continue to share tips about effectively collaborating and working remotely, and to see how everyone is managing.
  • Our Emergency Phone Number (650) 230-2929 is up and active for our current and past clients. One of our Project Managers was able to aid a past client recently and get her water heater replaced immediately.

As the Shelter in Place continually evolves and restrictions have been put in place again, we thank you for your continued patience as we navigate these new limitations.

With our very best regards for a speedy end to this situation. Take care of yourselves, and your families.

On behalf of all our Employee Owners,

Lisa Sten

Lisa Sten, Current President of Woman-Founded Harrell Design + Build to be Installed as the Design + Build Firm’s Second Woman CEO

Palo Alto, CA USA – Iris Harrell founded her namesake Design + Build company in 1985 during a time when the construction industry was predominantly male-driven. She led Harrell Design + Build until her retirement in 2014. On February 28, 2020, the firm will again have a female in top leadership when Harrell Design + Build President, Lisa Sten, assumes the role.

Upon Iris’s departure in 2014, Ciro Giammona assumed the role of CEO. After twenty-three years with Harrell Design + Build and six years as the firm’s leader, Mr. Giammona will retire on February 28, 2020 and Ms. Sten will become HRI’s third CEO and second female leader in the company’s history.

HRI is 100% employee-owned and embodies a carefully cultivated culture that allows its employee-owners to work their way up the ladder into top leadership roles. When Mr. Giammona announced his plans to retire, Ms. Sten, then General Manager/Senior Designer, was identified for the role and a two-year transition plan was initiated.

Ms. Sten previously co-owned an interior design company in Minneapolis. A mutual acquaintance connected Sten and Iris Harrell, leading to Ms. Sten joining HRI in October 2000 as a Designer.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a design you have created become a reality,” Sten says, explaining her attraction to HRI and the Design + Build industry.

Ms. Sten always wanted to be involved in helping to govern Harrell Design + Build. Over her twenty-year tenure, Sten has taken on more responsibility and leadership, culminating in her imminent transition from President to the company’s top position.

“As CEO, I will be more deeply involved in many ways, but still embracing our long-standing mission to provide excellent customer service and be our clients’ ‘contractor for life’.” When asked about what it means to be a woman leader in a still primarily male-dominated industry Sten replies, “Harrell Design + Build has an inclusive culture that encourages new ideas and achievements regardless of gender. As employee-owners, we collaborate toward a singular goal, providing the ultimate quality and the best customer service to every client.”

According to Mr. Giammona, Sten’s progressive entrepreneurial spirit, deeply rooted understanding of the industry, and “get it done” attitude are reminiscent of Harrell Design + Build’s founder. “She embodies our company’s innate DNA and deeply entrenched core values of ownership, teamwork, customer service, innovation, quality, professionalism, personal growth, integrity and fun. Through her leadership, Lisa will elevate Harrell Design + Build’s already high level of quality, design, and customer care to even greater heights.”

Based in Palo Alto and serving Silicon Valley and the mid-Peninsula, Harrell Design + Build Design + Build has offered a full-service approach to design and remodeling since 1985. Harrell Design + Build is one of only a handful of woman-led Design + Build firms in the Bay Area.

Lisa Sten CR, CID, UDCP
Harrell Design + Build
2284 Old Middlefield Way
Mountain View, CA 94043

A modern, gray universal design bathroom features a curbless shower and tile details.

Harrell Design + Build Designers Win Multiple NARI META Awards

Two of Harrell Design + Build’s Designers were honored recently at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Silicon Valley awards gala. Gloria Carlson and Debra Winston received coveted META Remodeling Awards for multiple projects that transformed the homes of three Harrell Design + Build clients. Both designers have received META honors in the past but, as Gloria shares, “A large part of the award is the fact that we’ve solved very unique problems, making dramatic and often life-changing transformations in our clients’ homes. Clients love to feel that their needs were met but in such a way that their home was acknowledged as an award-winner.”

META, short for metamorphosis, “signifies the transformation process and beautiful results that can be accomplished through a remodeling project.” The Silver, Gold and Platinum awards are categorized by project price point and include everything from interior redesigns of kitchens, baths and living spaces to residential landscape design to entire home remodels.

Designer Debra Winston won multiple META Gold awards for two projects within one residence, which incorporated Universal Design principles to enable the homeowners to age in place. The first project took a small, outdated master bathroom from “Blah to BLING” while the second Gold award winning project transformed the compartmentalized floor plan into a spacious and dramatic interior.

Blah to Bling

Two META Gold awards for Residential Bathroom under $100,000 & Universal Design Bathroom

“This couple isn’t afraid of color or of embracing their unique style and personality in the home,” Debra remarks. “This project definitely proves that Universal Design can be beautiful and functional.”

Dark, dated, and depressing, this original San Jose master bath was small and was not wheelchair-accessible. The corner shower was much too small for assisted bathing and had a high curb that created an entry barrier. Debra reconfigured the area, more than doubling its size by taking space from the hall bathroom. In its place Debra designed a stunning spacious roll-in shower with teak folding bench, grab bars, and a handheld shower to make bathing safe, easy and accessible. The wall-hung Toto Washlet toilet and white high-gloss floating vanity with Silestone quartz white platinum counters are functional and attractive. The “bling” comes from wall, floor, and backsplash tiles with burnished metallic finishes, glittering mosaics, and silver “ribbon candy” pendant lights that add sparkle.

Debra relates, “One of the wife’s guilty pleasures is collecting fragrances and nail polish. To display her collection in style while offering easily accessible storage, we added was a 16-inch X 5-foot Robern medicine cabinet.”

Dark to Dramatic

META Gold Award for Residential Interior $250,001-$500,000

The same homeowners also needed to convert the entry, kitchen and great room of their home to increase functionality and accessibility. The existing 1950’s kitchen was dark, narrow, and closed off from the living space by a 16-foot long wall.

Removing the entry coat closet and the dividing wall created an open floor plan, allowing ease of movement and linking the great room and kitchen together. The same glossy white cabinets grace the updated kitchen and are accented by vivid glass “wavy” backsplash tiles and matching pendants above the contrasting dark island. The kitchen is illuminated with recessed lighting and a skylight.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring extends into the great room, which had a dated brick fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases with scalloped wood trim, all which had been painted white. The space was transformed by applying concrete over the existing brick for an industrial look, adding metal mesh door panels to the bookcases, and matching the color of the kitchen island. Floating shelves and an edgy wallpaper transform the space into one that is functional, accessible, and captures the homeowner’s distinct style.

“The homeowners aren’t afraid to be bold with color, texture, and design,” Debra explains. “In their previous home, they used a small-run “stealth print” wallcovering and decided to continue this adventurous design aesthetic by incorporating a fanciful skeleton wallpaper as a feature wall in their new great room.”

Last but not least, all interior doors were painted a charcoal gray, and the home’s exterior was modernized, removing the dated scalloped facia and adding horizontal cedar plank siding. The stucco was painted a deep teal and the exterior entry door a bright orange, creating curb appeal with significant WOW factor.

Small to Spacious & Stunning

META Gold Award for Residential Interior Remodel $100,000-$250,000

Harrell Design + Build Senior Designer, Gloria Carlson, was a META award winner for her transformative design on a two-story Menlo Park home. The layout of the client’s home restricted her ability to age in place as there was no bed and bathroom space on the main level that offered the necessary accessibility.

To achieve a functional, accessible, and beautiful master suite, Gloria reconfigured the existing floor plan, which included a barely usable ensuite “micro” bathroom and small closet, with an adjacent sub-standard “bedroom” that was too small to be used as one.

By incorporating the footprint of the second bedroom, Gloria created a luxurious master bathroom and walk-in closet, both 3-1/2 times larger than their original spaces. The once infinitesimal closet was expanded to a walk-in closet, allowing the owner to store all of her clothing in one place whereas before, it was scattered in various closets throughout the home.

A large shower includes accessibility features such as a low curb, folding teak bench and grab bars. The client and Gloria worked together to lay out the shower tiles to mimic hot air balloons floating skyward, reminding the homeowner of one of her favorite getaways.

Gloria interspersed numerous other personal touches reminiscent of vacations including custom cabinet knobs made from stones found near the owner’s beloved mountain cabin on the double vanity and seated make-up area.

“The homeowner is a tall woman and she wanted the bathroom designed to comfortably fit her height,” Gloria explains. “Now she has a master ensuite bath that not only fits her personality but her stature, enabling her to comfortably and safely live in her home for years to come.”

Baker’s Dream Kitchen & Functional Garage

META Gold Award for Residential Interior Remodel $250,001-$500,000

Gloria designed a dream kitchen for another Menlo Park client, a close-knit family that loves to bake. Their adult son is a professional baker while the husband makes 1,000 truffles at a time multiple times a year. Their kitchen was attractive yet the confined space was not conducive to the cooking and baking functionality this family desired.

“This family is very unique and as such, had very specific requirements and challenges to solve in their home remodel,” Gloria states. “Not only were they avid bakers and chefs but they had a menagerie of exotic pets whose needs they also wanted to embrace in their remodeling project.”

Significant changes to the structure were made to create the dream kitchen that fit the family’s lifestyle. A load-bearing wall was removed, and a massive engineered beam inserted into the ceiling framing opened the kitchen and dining areas. It also allowed for a large island with seating for four, a lower counter area for the son’s baking while the husband used the large, higher portion of the island for making his truffles. With so many special baking appliances and accoutrements, storage was at a premium. Appliance “garages” were added for mixers and other large items while overflow storage was added to the home’s garage. The end result is an open, expansive space filled with natural and artificial light, colorful cabinets, plentiful prep space and storage, high-end appliances, and a mosaic backsplash, which is a nod to the family’s Spanish heritage.

The garage itself also underwent a significant METAmorphosis, transforming it into a fully functional space for laundry and overflow kitchen storage. Gloria also designed a secure location to store high-end bicycles in addition to a separate area for storing food for their tortoises, iguanas, snakes and other reptile pets.

Founded by Iris Harrell, Employee-Owned Harrell Design + Build has been transforming distinctive homes since 1985 in the Bay Area. If you are considering a METAmorphosis of your Silicon Valley or Mid-Peninsula home, Harrell Design + Build’s award-winning Design + Build team can make your residential dreams a reality. Explore our website to see more of our projects, learn about our company or to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Harrell Design + Build Wins 2019 ESOP Company of the Year

PALO ALTO, CA Harrell Design + Build, has been named the 2019 ESOP Company of the Year by The ESOP Association. The announcement was made at the Association’s Annual Conference in Tahoe, CA.

“Harrell Design + Build is a terrific example of an ESOP company that actively engages its employee owners, the employee ownership community, and our elected officials at the local and federal levels,” said Lisa Sten, President of Harrell Design + Build. “We are fiercely proud of our commitment to sharing the power of ESOPs both internally and externally.

Founded in 1985, the company launched its ESOP only a few years later, in 2001. By 2014, Harrell Design + Build was 100 percent employee owned with every one of our employees eligible to participate in our Harrell Design + Build ESOP.

”We are so often inspired by the many remarkable Employee Owned companies that make our ESOP Association Chapter,” states Ciro Giammona, CEO of Harrell Design + Build “To win the Chapter’s Company of the Year Award among such an impressive field of contenders is a true honor and it makes us that much more proud of our 100% Employee Owned company and our Team!”

Harrell Design + Build proudly supports our internal ESOP educational committee, comprised of employee owners from every department in the company. They meet for 60 minutes once a month and offer a wide range of educational and inspirational activities to help our employee owners learn about ESOPs and our unique company culture. Externally, they shares lessons learned by participating in and speaking at chapter and national meetings of The ESOP Association.

Founded by Iris Harrell in 1985, Harrell Design + Build is now a 100% employee owned company, and provide award winning, full-service Design + Build services, specializing in timeless residential interior/exterior design.

Learn more about our work and culture here: https://harrelldesignbuild.com/.

About ESOPs
An ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) is a retirement plan permitted by federal law. Owners of a business set up an ESOP by selling some or all of their shares to an ESOP trust, which then credits shares to the accounts of participating employees. The Trust holds the shares for employees for the duration of their tenure with the company. After leaving the business, employees may receive cash for the value of their shares or roll the funds they receive into another qualified retirement vehicle. ESOPs are the only retirement plan authorized to invest primarily in the stock of the employer. Under specific conditions, employees are legally entitled to diversify their ESOP funds and to invest assets outside of the company.

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Media contact:
Bella Babot
Director of Marketing