SHAKE was brought in by the clients to assess whether a significant remodel and addition would be feasible and advisable, and therefore whether they should make an offer on the property. Originally designed by local architect Robert Coit in 1914, the house is a center-entrance colonial with a gabled ell in the back. A two-story addition in the late eighties had filled in the corner of what was originally an L-shaped floor plan. The 1980’s structure featured a flat roof so as to fit under the existing roof eaves, presumably a decision that was driven by the simplest construction process as well as the most straightforward approach to managing drainage from the roof. The consequence of this strategy was that the two main rooms in the addition were sunken two steps below adjacent spaces in order to make the head heights work.
SHAKE worked through seven different roof and massing strategies, constantly weighing the often-competing interests of constructability, program, context and budget. In the end, the project gravitated towards a scheme that comprehensively fills in the corner of the original L-shaped floor plan while adhering to the setbacks and immediate site context. The entire 1980’s addition was removed, as well as the roof of the original ell and the roof and dormers on the back of the house at the third floor. This fault-line between the front and back of the house was a guiding principle in the renovation of the entire house as the original rooms at the front were more carefully updated with respect to existing plaster and woodwork, while the back of the house was fully-gutted and truly woven into the new, two-story addition. There is a careful play between the old and the new, down to the consideration of layout, materials, detailing, and paint.
The new rear of the house was designed to be in close dialogue with its original, historic context while at the same time being unabashedly modern. A deliberate strategy of gutters delineates the original and new. Board and batten siding references the original dimension of the wide-plank pine siding, but in a new orientation. A consistent approach to the paint scheme, trim, sill heights as well as a carefully calibrated composition of windows seeks to stitch the new into the old. The attached garage with deck and planting beds above, carved into a challenging site topography, provides a new convenient entry into a basement mudroom below the kitchen. The mahogany rainscreen and decking punctuate the project in a decidedly contemporary fashion.
Photography: Jane Messinger