Archive for Residential Design Additions

Embellishing History

The little brick Cape Cod on School Street in Cambridge already had a lot of history before we started. It was originally built as a wing to the 18th Century manor house “Glasgow” but was moved to its present location sometime in the early 20th century. Glasgow still stands a short distance away.

Since it had been just a part of a larger house originally, it had some odd features. The entry was off to one side, and the stairhall was located in what is now the rear of the house. The tiny kitchen was in a small frame annex off to one side. Upstairs, the bedrooms were laid out around the stairway, including an odd landing that put a few steps between two of the bedrooms.

historic renovation before

A local real estate lawyer purchased the house, which is surrounded by a generous lot bounded by athletic fields on one side, and a scenic old mill pond on the other. A large barn still stands near the pond, reminding one of the agricultural history of the area.

The owner’s objective was to add important updates to the house, including a modern Master Suite, and a spacious kitchen and family room. He also wanted to provide larger bedrooms with better access upstairs. At the same time, though, he desired to preserve the historic nature of the original part of the house.

To meet all of the objectives, we designed two additions, one for each end of the house. To the left of the front door, we added a large master suite with a large Palladian feature window, vaulted ceilings, spacious closets and a fireplace. Upstairs a large bedroom was included with windows looking out to the athletic fields and over the swimming pool out back.

Family Room Addition Renovation Historic Remodel

On the right side of the house, we laid out a beautiful new kitchen with a large working island and breakfast bar, which opens into a spacious family room. The family room features floor to ceiling windows affording views to the wooded back yard, and sliders to access the pool area. We added a new covered porch out back to connect the two additions, and to shade the southwestern-facing patio adjacent to the pool.

window wall renovation remodel addition historic

Out front, we distinguished the entry with a columned portico, crowned with a colonial railing. In the end, the original character of the Cape was preserved, with its original brick façade complemented by the tan siding applied to the additions.

An Addition That’s More Than the Sum of Its Parts

The owners of this project run a large farm in upper Dorchester County, growing grains and pumpkins.  The property featured the original 19th century farm house that was in pretty rough shape, and a modular Cape Cod that the family was living in.

The owners had bigger ideas, though.  The approach to the house is a splendid long driveway, with a commanding view of the property.  They wanted to put an addition on that would connect the two existing houses, and in the end, become the main part of the residence, both in terms of living space and appearance.

The 19th century house was relocated to a position opposite the Cape, creating a large space between them.  We were called in to develop a set of plans that tied everything together to create a large Georgian style estate house.


Home before addition


There were numerous challenges.  The Cape was a fairly straight-forward contemporary house, with a shed dormer across the back and the typical steep pitch roof.  The farm house was a simple two story affair, with a center entrance and three bays, which now faced to the side.  Our first challenge was to design a roof system that not only appealed to the eye, but worked to avoid potential water traps, debris collectors and the leaks that can result from both.

Once we worked that out, we developed the design for the exterior.  To gain the full effect of that long driveway approach, the family wanted a grand brick façade, with a two-level columned portico, and colonial style dormers on the roof.  While the two existing parts couldn’t be more different, the central addition was laid out with Georgian symmetry, centered on the portico.

To bring the three buildings into a coherent aesthetic, we specified matching sidings for the two flanking houses.  The large chimney on the front facing side of the Cape was stained to more closely match the new brick of the addition, and the wrap around porch of the cape was finished with similar railings to the portico on front, as well as the new portico added to the side of the old house.

Residential Addition

Inside, the owners wanted a Great Room that extended up two-stories at the rear of the addition, with large floor to ceiling windows flanking an impressive fireplace.  This would open up to a large patio area nested between the two existing houses.  The new addition would house a few guest bedrooms that opened to a balcony that looks down on the Great Room, and also has views across the farm fields through the large windows.

These features combined to give the front of the completed project a very dramatic and formal look, while the rear of the home, where the family spends most of their time, is contemporary and very comfortable.

Contemorary Design Rear Deck