The owner called us to help with her historic house that had a dreadful kitchen, bad circulation, no informal space, no laundry room, and a powder room that was only thirty inches wide. The 1904 house is a contributing structure in a National Landmark District. Any addition had to meet the Secretary of Interior’s Guidelines and the City’s Historic Review Board. Living in this National Landmark District is like living in a fishbowl. The owner wanted to be able to entertain without the prying eyes of the many tourists.
The existing house had the traditional center hall with four rooms of approximately the same size. The front two rooms were used as a formal living room and an informal living room. The kitchen was crammed into one of the back rooms with the dining room in the remaining back room. We added on a new family room and flipped the kitchen to the opposite side of the house to flow into the family room. The old kitchen became a new powder room and laundry room. The two front rooms became the dining room and living room. The house now has a more appropriate sequencing from public to private space, which provides the necessary privacy from nosy tourists.
The house is now is entertaining friendly. Prior to the addition the owner would be stuck in the kitchen; now the owner can visit with her guests as she cooks. The owner had not requested an outdoor fireplace but now cannot imagine living without it. The fireplace is the focal point of many relaxed evening gatherings.
The Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation require that “New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated form the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.”
In order to meet the Standards we designed the structure to be almost invisible from the street. There is only a ten-foot segment of the addition that can be seen form the street and it is difficult to see through the vegetation. The massing, materials, and fenestration visible from the street is compatible with the historic house. To differentiate the addition from the historic house we change the fenestration pattern on the rear of the addition to a more contemporary pattern. The Historic Review Board’s comment was, “This is clearly a contemporary addition that blends with the historic fabric.”