Let’s take a little detour from our current house projects and visit my sister. Hello sis! She and her husband have this really cute house…
…on a really great street…
…(small town) urban in the front, but with a backyard that goes on for miles…
…and miles. It’s kind of crazy. You could fit about a dozen of our postage stamp sized lot and house onto their property. It really is a gem. The possibilities are endless.
The house is quite lovely, particularly on the inside (more photos on that in the next post), and all of the original historic details are still intact in there. The outside is also charming, but, as it sometimes happens, houses get updated with materials and details that cover or mask some of the original historic detailing. In this case it’s very narrow metal siding, historically (and proportionately) inaccurate porch columns, and very thin metal trim boards. The roof is pretty unexciting, and in need of replacement soon. Most of the original wood trim around the doors and windows still exists, but the shutters are undersized and the windows are not original.
Despite some of these changes to the exterior, it is still a very, very nice house. It sits sideways on the property and I think that orientation is particularly nice on this lot. The house fronts a main thoroughfare in the town, and the side porch is more protected while still offering a place to sit and watch the town roll by.
Still, there are missed opportunities here. An addition was added many years ago – and while it provides great space on the inside of the house – it really turns its back to the vast expanse of the backyard. Don’t be tricked into thinking that bay windows bring you into the landscape because they don’t. Doors bring you into the landscape. There is also the unfortunate location of a double garage at the rear of the driveway that blocks a good portion of those views to the backyard. It’s a long term goal of theirs to remove it and replace it with something much more narrow and in keeping with the character of the main house.
As we began to look at some needed changes to the interior floor plan – a master bedroom and bathroom (they currently sleep in a front parlor room, and the house has one main bath on the second floor), a larger, more open eat-in kitchen, and a combination living / dining room with ample connections, visually and physically, to the backyard – we also looked at how an addition of relatively modest proportions – 25′ x 32′ – could engage the existing house, its rooflines, and its porch, and dramatically improve the curb appeal from the street, the driveway approach and the view from the rear yard.
As I like to call it – traditional on the front, party in the back. Tying the roof line of the addition back into the original roof by turning it ninety degrees and adding a dormer to the new roof, and a larger dormer to the original roof above the porch, really helps to keep the addition from looking like another linear extension to an already long and narrow house. Those dormers do some very significant things on the inside too, and I’ll have more on those benefits soon. There is also an additional connection via a door from the living spaces in the house to that side porch. On a nice day it will be possible to move through the house in multiple ways, and move from the inside to the outside much more easily.
Rotating the rooflines of the addition offers some other great benefits on this side of the house as well. It lets us get a full two story addition (vs. a 1/2 story addition) so we can maximize light and views to the rear yard. This provides the space for a treehouse-like master bedroom and bathroom on the upper level, and an expansive living / dining room on the lower level.
A new side porch (seen below on the left) gives the family a place to come in out of the elements from the rear driveway and garage before entering the house. Large sliding doors in that area can be opened to extend the dining area to the (screened-in) outdoors in nice weather, and to accommodate larger crowds.
We’ll do some more refined design on the landscape and the outdoor spaces as we move along, but for now we’re showing a large deck with a pergola above. This might be a patio space, or a series of terraced decks / landings – but the idea will be the same in all of those ideas – a larger connection to the rear yard, and a place to extend the indoor living area to the outdoors.
So we’re getting there on the outdoor objectives… next up – an interior plan that works for a busy family of four. Stay tuned.