When SHAKE walked through this converted two-family house with the clients in a particularly competitive real estate market in Somerville’s Union Square, there were other prospective buyers touring the project. The groans of some visitors were audible as they viewed the state of the property. Many turned around after seeing just one room. Thankfully the clients saw what we saw which was great potential to bring the property back to its original single-family form and to connect it to its spacious backyard.
SHAKE worked with the clients and their budget to come up with a strategy that was creative in terms of its systems and material approach and disciplined in terms of defining and prioritizing scope. Saving the basement, the window package and the exterior for a future project, the house was completely gutted with a focus on energy efficiency through new systems and insulation. In-floor radiant heating was installed below existing wood flooring throughout the first floor and air conditioning was limited to a seperate hydro-air system dedicated to the second and third floors. On the second floor, a new master suite was added in place of a kitchen while a central room was devoted to a hybrid function of laundry and playspace for kids. This new central “hub” of the home features a vaulted ceiling up to the third floor as well as a new, code-compliant stair replacing what used to be a ship’s ladder.
Throughout the project, original decorative borders surrounding hardwood flooring were revealed underneath layers of carpet and preserved. On the first floor, the location of a wood-burning stove and the removal of a number of walls lead to the use of inlaid slate to preserve areas of original flooring and provide a necessary hearth. A douglas fir and steel screen surrounding the stove provides a measure of definition between rooms while providing a desired connection between the spaces and the backyard. Fir and poured concrete were used for countertop surfaces while a sink / “wet zone” was fabricated from stainless steel.
Photography: Anfuso Imaging