Content with the neighborhood and their home’s furnishings, this family disliked their Colonial home itself. All their modern furniture, art, carpets and lighting fixtures could not disguise the fact that it did not suit their tastes, or adequately address their needs. Inside, they wanted to create an expanded kitchen, an informal eating area, and a library that better reflected their lifestyle. Outside, they desired new front and rear entries, and transition porches to their beautiful yard.  Rather than completely alter the existing house - wholesale changes to the beloved Colonial would surely alienate neighbors - we decided to use it as a neutral backdrop for a necklace of new spaces. The home’s existing perimeter walls were left largely intact, creating a threshold between the old house and the airy open new pieces that expand into and embrace the landscape. Instead of large open rooms combining old and new, Locus designed doors and other portals to provide views between the two, letting space flow yet remain differentiated. In this way, the new window-filled “summer” spaces - the double height library and patio eating area - distinctly contrast with the more enclosed, protected “winter” spaces - the existing living and dining rooms.  While distinct, details bridge the two realms. Signature sliding doors, special openings, and other crafted elements are found through the house - especially at transitions between the old and new. As part of the commission, this family wanted us to create “artworks” like these to complement their modern art collection. We responded by re-thinking the mundane, typical off-the-shelf items and fixtures common in residential construction, and designed light fixtures, sinks, shelving brackets, sculpture pedestals and lockers, among other key house features. An intense thought process underlay these novel elements, yet their final resolution was often in the field, with sketches executed on the back of a chunk of drywall or plywood.  Like other Locus projects, the addition/renovation incorporates reused, recycled and recyclable products, including resawn Douglas fir, reused steel bar joists, salvaged slate chalkboards and a variety of steel products. Liberal use of concrete, locally produced and durable, and other products low in embodied energy contribute further to the project’s sustainability. The sustainable aspect of these materials is important, but more critical is their detailing. The slate, concrete floor and block - otherwise hard, cold surfaces - are transformed in an engaging blackboard wall, a radiant floor, and block wall and shelving infused with warmth and character.  At the project outset, the owners disparagingly referred to their home as a “Leave it to Beaver” design - banal and pedestrian. In the end, the renovation/addition, with its subtle contrasts of stucco and steel outside and sensory details inside, elevates the house from that realm. They now refer to their renovated house and its modest addition as an extension of the impressive modern art collection it contains.
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