When we arrived on the scene, this historic 1906 residence had already been remodeled at least three times in the past 20 years. In partnership with Aleck Wilson Architects (AWA) and Caitlin Jones Design, we set out to open up the living space for an active family of five.
Original Structure: Historic Building with Mismatched Renovations
“Our biggest challenge was to restore some of the grandeur that had long been lost from the original floor plan,” explains architect Stephen Verner of AWA. “At the same time, we needed to meet the aesthetic and lifestyle needs of a modern family.”
The original structure had many limitations, including a very dark kitchen, family room and dining room with no connection to the backyard. Natural light was limited by low head height in the living room windows and by small window openings on the third floor and side façade. A cramped downstairs layout was not conducive for family time or for hosting parties, which were two main priorities for the homeowners.
Simple Reconfiguration to Bring Light & Openness
To solve the problem of limited natural light in the center of the home, we replaced the back wall with two pairs of glass doors and a large window.
The kitchen moved from the back facade to the center of the home, now illuminated by a large skylight. The family room took the place of the kitchen, with the entire lower level of the house now connected by a dining room that also serves as a spacious hallway.
Updated Design for 2nd Generation Arts & Crafts Home
Starting with the facade, the team replaced yellow painted shingles with natural red cedar to bring a new level of sophistication. Because this home was built as a twin with the adjacent building, the new facade now strengthens the visual relationship between the two.
In honor of the home’s original Edwardian charm, we carried a uniform sense of scale and detailing between all downstairs rooms. For example, two sets of sliding doors connecting the kitchen/dining room and entry/living room offer privacy and soundproofing. Because of their similar scale and style, these sliding doors also help marry the two spaces.
Consistent ceiling height and trim – including wainscoting in the formal living room and dining room – also carries a unified visual language throughout the main level of the house.
French Country Influence for Family Kitchen
As illustrated in the before & after images, the original kitchen was lacking natural light and fluidity with the attached downstairs living spaces. Our solutions:
- Large skylight between kitchen & family room
- Calacatta Oro marble countertops, island & backsplash to reflect light
- Ornate island with carved Black Walnut legs
- Custom fabricated pewter hood to reflect French country influence
- Detailed wainscoting to reinforce Edwardian roots
“We wanted the island to read as a piece of furniture,” comments Verner. “The carved legs have an old school feel, which is echoed in the family room beams.”
Style & Functionality for Ensuite Master Bath
The existing master bathroom had a dilapidated steam shower and was too large to have any sense of proportion. In response to these problems, we:
- Glass-enclosed steam shower as a focal point of bathroom
- Integrated bathtub & shower arrangement
- Oversize double vanities connected by long marble top
- Enclosed toilet room hidden by full-length mirror
- Mirrors integrated into wall with sleek medicine cabinets
- Repetition of eye-level fixtures to localize light on one’s face
Living with the Remodel: Natural Light & Communal Space
For a family with three kids, the home is now much more functional and comfortable. The son and two daughters can deposit their stuff in the ground floor mudroom before accessing the main floor via concealed staircase. The mother enjoys a private office hidden right in the middle of the living space, and the father has a home office of his own on the second floor.
Verner reflects: “The new family room and backyard are really a draw for the kids and all their friends. The adjacency and openness between the family room, kitchen and backyard is dramatically improved – the family loves it.”
Thanks to the homeowners, Aleck Wilson Architects, and Caitlin Jones Design for a great project!