project addition: carriage house elevations

I just realized I’m telling this series of “stories” in a backward fashion – the garage will be the last thing constructed, not the first. But I’ll continue on in some sort of systematic fashion despite that. There’s no economy of scale anywhere in this project – we can’t pour all the foundations, lay all the bricks, spray in all the insulation – in one fell swoop. The addition will come first, because after the garage goes in there won’t be any access for large equipment into the yard.

I have moments when I really start to sweat at the complexity of it all. Nothing about this project is simple, nothing will be routine. There is no typical wall section here – everything has to be thought all the way through before pulling the trigger because we literally have no room for adjustments. But we build more complicated things all the time, so I take a deep breath and try to push on.

Elevations – elevations are a funny thing to look at if you aren’t used to looking at them. They aren’t a great representation of reality because everything about a three-dimensional building is reduced to a two-dimensional one. There are little cues that can help you “read” one, but they’re more important for the construction document side than for explaining how a building will look in real life. I thought I’d share them anyway, and hopefully they explain in further detail what the building will look like.


Three sides of the carriage house aren’t really that exciting – guess what? It’s a big, brick box! We can’t install windows on walls that are on the property line, and I discussed yesterday that we had decided not to put any on the alley side either. M actually thought that big brick expanse on the alley side might make a good spot to install some sort of art installation down the road, something to brighten up the alley a little. Might be a fun project.


But the courtyard side of the building is the one that we really like.


You’ll see in the lower left hand corner, the drawing cuts through the areaway stair down to the garage door. This door opens onto the stair landing. You can go straight up the stairs to the apartment, or you can turn to your right, open the door, and step down into the garage. Also at the garage level, you can see the two operable awning windows – the dashed lines represent the direction the windows open, so these hinge at the top and open outward. We love awning windows – you get a nice breeze through them, but they can also stay open in a gentle rain because the opening is somewhat protected by the window “awning”.

You can see in this elevation that the height of the courtyard is much higher than the garage floor below, so this side of the building will look the shortest in elevation.

The apartment floor cantilevers out over the garage below – this does a couple of functional and aesthetic things.

It provides us a change to break up the expanse of brick on this elevation – the one we’re going to look at the most. We aren’t 100% sure on the cladding material and finish on this piece, but it will be wood siding of some sort – either opaque stained to match the brick color, or possibly a tropical hardwood or stained wood of some kind. Either way, it helps to define that living space as a special one, and (as you’ll see when I get to the house addition posts), it mirrors the look of the rear of the addition.

Having that “frame” cantilever beyond the garage does a few other things – it provides some protection over the garage door below it, which is always welcome at an entry door. And while it won’t fully cover the landing at the bottom of the stairs there,  there’s always some protection that comes from standing next to a tall wall – so this will just extend that protection a little more. It gives us a place to install a recessed light fixture to illuminate that stair too, a nice, clean detail.

The frame also provides a bit of privacy from either side. You can see that the top and one side slope in towards the windows, while the other side and the bottom are straight. Of course this won’t provide total privacy at this giant wall of glass, but it does shelter the windows somewhat, and I think it will also provide a nice, focused view from the interior of the apartment. We’ll still have large roller shades to provide privacy when needed.

And if you’re into that higher level of detail, you can see the wall sections through that cantilevered frame at the windows in the right two sections. In the left one, you get a sense for how tall the windows are in the space, and also how the exposed roof structure will look.


That’s a fairly comprehensive overview of one half of this project. Next weekend I’ll write the posts on the addition portion of the project, and hopefully have some good news to report from Thursday’s hearing. Thanks for all the notes of encouragement!

4 Responses to project addition: carriage house elevations

  1. WOW! Looking and sounding great! Thursday is almost here and then full-speed ahead – wait, that is what you have already been running!

  2. Know you will crush it at the hearing.

  3. These posts are really great! I love seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ details and hearing about your thought process for getting to the final result.
    We just finished an 18-month construction project here at work (right outside my window) – I really enjoyed watching the process of going from field to finished building and getting to see the plans and what-not. Looking forward to your future posts!

  4. I love when creative people share their thoughts on designing their own spaces – it is so thoughtful and considered, and it really gives a glimpse into how those creative brains work. Really enjoying these posts!

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