Sympathetic Rear Addition - Restoration & Design for the Vintage House | Old House Online

Sympathetic Rear Addition

After some cosmetic upgrades, we enlisted help for a rear addition.
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The restored open porch does justice to the Colonial-style Foursquare, which boasts a Palladian window in its dormer.

The restored open porch does justice to the Colonial-style Foursquare, which boasts a Palladian window in its dormer.

Our 1904 American Foursquare in Westfield, N.J., definitely needed a makeover. My husband, Joe, and I disliked the blocky street presence and asbestos-shingle siding. In back, the house had sprouted an odd addition—the only downstairs bathroom—and there was no sense of the backyard from rooms in the house. Early on, we tackled cosmetic projects inside, but eventually we hired architect Brian Taylor to bump out the rear.

The old house is not terribly large, so we needed every square inch to be usable space. Our original challenge to Brian and his colleague Gregory Blasi was to make our addition seamless— we didn’t want it to look like an addition. The project morphed into a complete interior renovation, which included an expanded kitchen in its original location. Brian did a great job walking the line between historic restoration and innovation—demonstrated by his design for galleries upstairs and down on the rear of the house. The renovated house fits beautifully into our neighborhood, which is filled with houses dating to 1900–1915.

The original front porch, enclosed in the 1920s, still had leaded glass and the old floor that sloped to shed water. We looked to neighboring homes for design guidance. Now the porch is our favorite place to relax with our daughter Kiera and son Matthew; in the summer, we open the original double doors for easy access to the living room and kitchen.

The paint scheme—grey-green body with burgundy accents—was our preference. I love color; our painter, Hugo, helped me narrow my choices. I had to tone down the shutter color, as it looked too bright in sunlight. (Body color ‘Intrigue’ #1580, trim ‘Navajo White’, shutters ‘Vintage Wine’ #2116-20 remixed to tone down purple, all Benjamin Moore.)

We’ve learned that our architect received the prestigious Devlin Historic Preservation Award for his work on our project. Cheers to Brian! Brian M. Taylor Architects, North Plainfield, N.J.: bmtaia.com

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