Paint­ing Inside the Lines

Old House Journal - - Design -

Old houses, even large ones, are of­ten built too close to neigh­bor­ing prop­erty lines ac­cord­ing to present-day build­ing codes. That was the case for this early 20th-cen­tury Arts & Crafts cot­tage. The ex­ist­ing porch, pa­tio, and garage were mere feet from the back prop­erty line, and the garage and an em­bank­ment wall bor­der­ing the drive­way stood flush with the side prop­erty line.

“This was a very com­pli­cated project,” says de­signer David Heide. Ap­ply­ing for and re­ceiv­ing vari­ances to cur­rent set­backs was time con­sum­ing, tak­ing three months. “Luck­ily we have ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with the city and know what ques­tions to ask. We have yet to be turned down.”

Once the ap­proval process was un­der­way, Heide de­mol­ished the ex­ist­ing garage and made plans to re­build it be­low grade. In an­other com­pli­ca­tion, the soil un­der­neath the new ad­di­tion and new drive­way had to be in­jected with chem­i­cal sta­bi­liz­ers to sup­port the new con­struc­tion. Since the re­tain­ing wall along the drive­way lit­er­ally sat on the prop­erty line, re­build­ing it meant com­ing to an ac­com­mo­da­tion with the neigh­bors.

With site is­sues un­der con­trol, Heide still had to find space for a new fam­ily room. He re­claimed the old step-down pa­tio be­tween the ex­ist­ing kitchen and din­ing room and ex­tended it by cre­at­ing a ter­race on top of the garage. In keep­ing with the own­ers’ de­sire to en­ter­tain, the fam­ily and din­ing rooms open right onto the ter­race.

On the in­te­rior, a on­ceawk­ward com­bi­na­tion kitchen and fam­ily room has been re­de­fined into a well-equipped pe­ri­od­style kitchen and ad­ja­cent break­fast room. Through­out the ren­o­va­tion, Heide care­fully con­sid­ered sight lines from all the rooms in the house to­ward the lake, choos­ing only the best. “It was pretty amaz­ing, the views we were able to pro­vide.”

The re­freshed Arts & Crafts cot­tage gained ap­pro­pri­ate pe­riod el­e­ments as well as a new fam­ily room and out­door ter­race. IN­SET The ap­proach to the ex­ist­ing garage was awk­ward and cramped. The room off the por­tico was prob­a­bly a later ad­di­tion.

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