Daily Archives: April 4, 2014

project addition

I’m always a little weird about showing in progress things – not so much with projects (because every single part of our house is in progress) – but ideas I’m thinking about. I’m not sure why this is – maybe I feel like if I publish it, then it’s set in stone and I can’t change my mind completely. It also feels a lot like some of the other things that I set out to do, but then don’t follow through on because of time or money or lack of interest.

(Side note: I haven’t given up on my monthly goals idea. I took March off to have surgery, but I have some goals for April that I’ll outline this weekend.)

But I’m going to try and break some of my hesitation habit and share more about what I’m thinking about and sketches I’m doing. I’m also going to resist the urge to write a thousand words in each post, and dish things out in slightly more manageable pieces (for me). Goodness, I’m wordy, I know.

So here are some quick visuals to give you an idea of what I’m thinking about for Project Kitchen / Backyard Connection.

Big Picture Goals:

  • Connect this big old brick house to the outdoors in a more modern, open manner.
  • Bring light into the center of the house.
  • Upgrade the kitchen into a serious cooking / baking kitchen – not a fancy kitchen, a hardworking kitchen.
  • Carve out a mudroom space to control clutter.
  • Provide an indoor connection to the basement / storm shelter.
  • Create an urban courtyard and a more private outdoor away space.
  • The table is a big part of our family life – create a dining space that celebrates that and also allows us to entertain larger groups of family and friends (centered around food, of course!)
  • Build an alley garage with a future attic space for guests or studio space.

Here’s the basic form of our house – three squares, each roughly 18’x18′ (outside dimensions – inside it’s closer to 16’x16′ with the thick walls). The third square in the rear is divided into two areas – the kitchen at roughly 12′ wide and the porch is the other 6′. (You can click on the images to make them larger.)

Addition Axon_2

For several years I’ve imagined building an addition with a new super modern, fabulous kitchen because the current kitchen is narrow and difficult to configure, and any addition would further block the existing kitchen’s location from natural light. I was also convinced that we needed to preserve the two story porch in its current form. Then M pointed out that we might consider converting the first floor porch into indoor space – carving out a mudroom and a large butler’s pantry, leaving the kitchen in its current location and adding an addition that would house a large dining room / gathering space that opens up into a new urban courtyard between the house and the new garage. Shifting gears in that direction really changed things for me, and I’ve been thinking about that ever since.

If we take the same 18’x18′ module for the new addition and pull it away from the back of the house a certain amount (maybe 5′), and have that connection piece between the old and the new be glass – roof and east wall – then we flood the addition and the existing kitchen with tons of light, but it’s also private light, which is nice because I spend a lot of time in the kitchen late at night and sometimes I feel a little exposed.

Remember this photo I showed you a few weeks back – 


It’s a completely different setup, but the light at the connection between rooms is a very similar feel to what I’m thinking about.

Here’s a quick axon showing the new addition with the roof off – just a blocking diagram of the new addition with an interior stair leading down to a safe room at basement level under the addition. I’m showing vertical lines at the side of it because I visualize it being an open stair with a minimal screen versus a solid wall to maximize the openness of the room. The porch would be divided into a butler’s pantry accessed by a door where the current window is located, and a new mudroom would be installed at the current kitchen door. The rear of the addition (completely abstract in this sketch) would be mostly glass – possibly folding glass wall like a Nana Wall system.

Addition Axon_3

It’s way cooler though when I add back in the second and third floors to this little diagram. We could move the current railings from the first floor porch up to the second floor porch, and screen this porch in (because I want a mosquito free space to grab a quick bit of fresh air with a cup of coffee or a book without dousing myself in bug spray). The first floor porch would be treated as an enclosed porch – I think the details really have to be right here to look correct. I can envision high transoms for some natural light and then closed shutters along the bottom.

Addition Axon_1

You can also see the glass skylight and window in that connecting piece between the old house and the new house. The new addition would have a tall parapet wall that acts as a railing around the new green roof on top – the roof would be structured to handle the load of a rooftop terrace – the perfect place for private outdoor space. You’d access the roof terrace from the end of the second floor screen porch – walking across that skylight for some added fun! And just to orient you a little more – that bump out on the third floor is in F’s room, and that second story porch is accessed from our back room – currently the TV room and studio space. I love the idea of the south end of our house being this stair-stepped green garden oasis – all the way down to the courtyard at ground level. It reminds me of the green terraces of Isola Bella (on a much smaller scale of course!)

Isola Bella

I’ll keep this little planning thread going throughout the spring. It’s obviously a big idea and with big ideas come big $$$’s. Planning and dreaming, however, is completely free. (And I topped 1000 words – so much for brevity.)