Reader's Choice: Lasting Impressions By Carolyn Weber and Christina B. Farnsworth

Name: Nantucket House

Location: Nantucket, Mass.

Year Built: 1998

Architect: Graham Gund

Why it's relevant: This is an example of how fine materials and craftsmanship can really make a difference in the final product.

Although he had built dozens of houses in his native Nantucket, it wasn't until 1998 that Charleston, S.C.-based builder/remodeler Kevin Kalman found true inspiration. The house that changed his outlook was an island vacation home he built designed by architect Graham Gund. "It was the first house that broke the paradigm of houses as shelter for me," says Kalman. "I realized that it can be art as well."

It was the first time Kalman had worked with an architect of Gund's caliber, and the difference was immediately apparent. "To see the creative process at work opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities," he says. "There were so many lessons learned."

[Photo: Nick Wheeler Photography]

One of the main lessons was that high-quality materials make a world of difference. Kalman admits that he is less compromising now and does lose a few jobs over it. "Whether it's a better class of wood or windows, the result is worth it," he says. Insisting on high-quality construction and design solutions isn't fast and isn't easy, but Kalman has changed his ways for good. "I can drive by my houses with pride," he says. "And feel a lot better when I go to sleep at night."

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