Since co-founding Raymac Remodeling in 1998, David McDonald and Ramon Frangi have earned a reputation among Atlanta’s country club set for attention-grabbing designs. The contractors’ award-winning projects have even been featured in local design magazines. But a recent project in Roswell, Ga., stands out as a favorite.
In 2013, the Cumming, Ga.-based design-build firm was hired to “freshen up” the main floors of an 8,000-sq.-ft. home and finish its 3,000-sq.-ft. basement before the new owners moved in. “Our original timeframe was accelerated when the owners’ previous home sold within a week,” McDonald says.

In four weeks, the contractor completed the upstairs portion, which included remodeling the kitchen, sanding all of the home’s hardwood floors, adding rustic beams and tongue-and-groove paneling to ceilings in some rooms, and painting the interior to replace dated wallpaper. Because mold was discovered in the 2005 home, they also replaced double doors over the back deck where water had previously leaked into the basement.

Raymac continued working downstairs after the family moved in, completing the $330,000 basement in about 14 weeks. Topping the owner’s wish list was one of the job’s biggest challenges: creating a space that could accommodate a state-of-the-art golf simulator.

Not only did the $72,000 golf projector and audio system account for the project’s largest single expense, it also required the largest square footage. Raymac designed a 42- by 16-ft.-long home theater that widens to 18 ft. at one end for the golf system. “We had to research projectors that would fit the space, and make sure there was enough room for multiple cameras that track the golf balls from different angles,” says McDonald.

The contractor installed the system’s special egg crate lining above the virtual tee box to dampen sound and protect the ceiling. Heavy curtains hang on either side of the screen to catch errant golf balls. After Raymac completed the infrastructure requirements, the system’s manufacturer sent a representative from Canada to install the screen and electronics.

At the back of the room’s fairway, guests can watch fellow golfers — or movies —  from comfortable recliners and couches on a tiered seating area. A 5-ft.-wide rolling barn door connects the theater to the living room and adjoining kitchen/bar.

More than meets the eye

When guests join the owner for a few rounds of indoor golf, or attend a pool party at the upscale home, they’re actually not seeing one of the contractor’s most impressive custom-designed features.

Hiding in plain sight, a cleverly constructed 6- by 8-ft. room houses the owner’s gun safe. “Hidden doors can be found if you know what you’re looking for, but this one is unique,” McDonald says.

The owner was thrilled with Raymac’s one-of-a-kind solution, and was adamant about its secrecy. “Although we always want to showcase our best work, we respect our clients’ privacy,” says McDonald. “This is one of the coolest things we’ve ever built, but we can’t discuss the details.”

For entertainment purposes

Fortunately, the remodeled basement has many other features the homeowners intend to share with guests: a kitchen/bar area, living room with fireplace, a gym with sauna, an in-law suite with a private bathroom, laundry room and a spacious foyer leading to an outdoor pool.

Although the unfinished basement was largely a blank canvas, the contractor had to reconfigure existing stud walls and add LVL beams in seven different areas to accommodate a new floor plan. The basement door was relocated from the center of the house to one side, to provide more convenient access to the pool deck.

The contractor created a grand entrance by removing the center window from an existing bay and installing an 8-ft. door. Wide, painted wood paneling with built-in cross-hatched towel storage and water-resistant tile floors create a cabana feeling, where guests have access to his and hers changing rooms with slatted doors, and a coordinating bathroom.

Because the family entertains guests of all ages, as well as business clients, Raymac designed a hybrid kitchen and bar area that tastefully fits both uses. The kitchen has full-size appliances and granite countertops, with design elements of a trendy bar, including a hand-cut stone wall, shelves and flat screen TV.

Raymac built a sturdy 2×4 wall between the kitchen cabinets to support the weight of the 5-in.-thick Tennessee stone. Custom-built floating shelves were installed first; then the irregular stones were laid in like a puzzle.

Uniting upstairs and downstairs

Raymac carefully selected building materials and décor to create continuity between the new construction and main floors upstairs. Because the home is built into a hillside, the basement actually resembles an entry level, with large windows on three sides. The contractor maximized the bright, open space by finishing its 10-ft. ceilings with drywall as opposed to drop-ceilings.

A floor-to-ceiling maple wine rack stands behind a glass door at the bottom of the basement staircase, creating an impressive entrance to the home’s lower level. In the living room, wooden beams are exposed within a deep tray ceiling. A long, paneled wall runs the length of the room, and is painted to match the home’s main entryway.

The contractor also installed engineered hardwood flooring with a top layer of real oak to match the hardwoods upstairs, but with a plywood layer underneath for moisture resistance. “We stained the floor to match the upstairs finish but used a 5-in.-wide board to vary it a little,” McDonald says.

Raymac takes pride in the unique space, for which it earned two Contractor of the Year Awards in 2013 from the National Association of The Remodeling Industry Atlanta Chapter: Home Theater/Media Rooms under $150,000 and Residential Interior above $100,000.

“When you tell people you’ve built a 42-ft.-long golf room in someone’s house, it raises some eyebrows,” McDonald says. “And we’ve seen more than one wife elbow her husband in the ribs and say, ‘Don’t get any bright ideas!’” 

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