The History….The house was originally built in the 1950s as a charming Cape Cod with views of the lake. In the late 1980s, the home was completely remodeled; (a bit of a mutt) combining Cape Cod, octagon turrets, prairie windows along with some Victorian interior trim. An originally one story screen porch was replaced with a 2 story octagon turret leaving the original rectangular foundation in place. The 80’s remodel also included a smaller turret on the other side of the home linking the back bedroom over the garage as well as several bay windows and gable dormers on the second floor; three of which housed bathroom vanities to make the most of the floor space without it counting against “the floor to area ratio”. The 80’s additions pretty well maxed out the allowable square footage limits for this property. Compounding the constraints, the entire original front façade was built 4’ into the current front yard setback requirement and the garage right side was on the side yard setback line. Tearing down the home to build new would have resulted in a narrower structure and even less living space because of new construction code restrictions; that option was not considered and a total remodel became the only choice.
The Challenge…devise a plan that would transform what had been done 26 years prior, add charm and character, and create living spaces that fit Patrick and Lisa’s needs and tastes.
The goal … create an open floor plan that would make every bit of space usable for an empty nester couple who enjoy entertaining, provide the necessary amenities one would find in a new home, and bring the outside in with views of the pool and the lake. While several additions were added in the 80’s remodel, the original center entry with living room and porch on one side, dining room and kitchen on the other, and the center switch back staircase were not touched. The ceilings were only 7’10” high due to double layers of flooring and drywall installed over plaster on the ceilings. Very little of what had been done in the past could remain. A complete gut of the interior was necessary; stripping every surface down to rafters, studs, and floor sheathing.
The process….We literally rebuilt the structure on the inside, gutting the framing from 1st floor to the roof rafters in many areas, doubling every stud that remained to straighten walls that were 2” out of plumb, adding a dozen steel columns and a number of steel beams to support the new open design. We also eliminated furring strips under the original hardwood and installed our new wood floor directly on the 1”x12” floor sheeting and were able to gain a welcome 3 ½” height to the 1st floor. We removed exterior brick on the rear elevation of the 1st floor and built our window walls to the outside of the foundation and gained 5” in room width. On the second floor we added 17” to the entire back portion of the main house by cantilevering the floor; the only real expansion of the house we were allowed to do. We creatively took advantage of every allowance in the code to gain the precious square footage. The added 17 inches (65 sq. ft.) made it possible to work in the open staircase and generous upper hall and just enough room for a comfortably sized master bedroom, master closet, bath, and hall laundry. In the end we were less than 2 square feet below the maximum allowed by code.
We decided the best way to unify what existed and create architectural character was by adding a touch of Nantucket whimsy. With the 4’front setback issue, the existing front dormers could not be moved forward; however, adding one additional dormer, increasing the size of the one over the front entry, and adding 11” in height to the dormers was permitted along with a small open front portico. Raising and stepping the dormers, adding brackets, trim details along with panel details, and cupolas and a two color palate added a cohesive identity the previous remodeled house lacked. All the existing brick, new shingle siding, and new roof became charcoal grey. The new trim, windows, soffits and fascia, and garage door all white.
The result….The glass walls facing the yard and pool open up the home giving a sense that the exterior spaces are an extension of the interior, very typical of southern California living. All the rooms are bathed in light including spaces that face north like the open kitchen. Patrick and Lisa love the views of the lake from practically every room in the house and are pleased the 1st floor can easily accommodate 75 guests, yet it is comfortably cozy for a smaller group or just the 2 of them. Patrick and Lisa got everything they wanted. They trusted our vision and are extremely pleased with the finished product.