Family Room

1st floor addition with a dining room, media room, and a spa

In 1991, before there we two kids and two dogs, these Owners built their new house in the country. At the time, it was what they could afford and it suited them just fine. That was then. Now, with two teens, a lot more homes in the country, a lot more friends and neighbors, and as two successful business owners making a lot more money, there is not enough house to hold all the fun.

“I want to be able to have a 12’ tall Christmas tree, thirty people over at one time, sit in my hot tub and watch my large screen TV, (or not), have a work out room in my new basement that I can look outside from, and have it all happen in the same space for under $150,000.00”.

I explained we could do it all, except the part about for under $150,000.00. He said, “I didn’t think so either but how can we get close”?

We established that the really important things, the things they wanted to have now, was everything except for the basement workout room. That made the budget a bit more realistic however, with everything, beyond our part as their Remodeler, they were realistically in the $200-$225,000.00 range.

We set-up for a design agreement with one of our staff and got to work.


There were no real significant challenges from a construction standpoint. There was plenty of room, (land available), to come up with the square footage, the immediate design solution for the exterior seemed straight forward baring a couple of second floor windows, we could build the full basement and just not finish it off, but we could not get the Owner to be able to visualize the end result on any level. Not in verbal, or, drawn out design descriptions. He admitted it he just was no good at seeing it unless it was right in front of him, that is, as in built, painted, furnished, and decorated.

As nice as of a client as they were, we never thought we would see this project get off paper. It did though.

With string, stakes, marking paint, and chalk, we were able to develop his understanding of the scale of the footprint. A lot of hand gestures and a bit of Origami, the roof pitches and ceiling line came more clearly into view. Past that, patience and trust brought us to a level of mutual understanding of what this was going to look like.

The over all square footage of the living space fleshed out to be 662 (+ -) square feet. Now came the task of creating six distinct activity areas; the home theatre, spa room, dining area, music area for the piano that was hidden away in the living room, and a sitting area that would when appropriate, accommodate the big Christmas tree.


The intent is to allow all of these areas to flow together without being architecturally compartmentalized so that large groups can gather and feel like they are all part of the same space. To create the privacy requested for the spa, a separate room was designed that opened up to the sitting and dining area via two, three foot wide French pocket doors with obscured glass.

The bar area was used as a backdrop to the media area and opens to the tiled area of the dining space. The three columns of the space serve not only as architectural details but encapsulate waste and supply lines to the second floor bathrooms as well as structural columns supporting the second floor and the roof load of the addition. Their size is dictated by what they have to conceal inside.

The introduction of arches between the columns heighten the architectural interest of the space that largely lacked any detail whatsoever and help to create a visual bridge between the different areas. What was previously the family room now is the music area for the piano and a cozy sitting area along side of the fireplace.

Three different types of flooring make up the different areas. Hardwood in the media area, carpet in the music area, tile on the floor and walls of the spa area, and tile to match that of the existing tile from the kitchen and dinette area in the new dining and sitting area. As an interesting design detail, granite mosaics that match the existing kitchen counters are inset on the diagonal in the new tile floor.

A wall of slate in the spa room serves not only as a decorative focal point but, a functional one as well for the spa cover to lean against when the spa is in use.

The custom bar cabinetry matches the style and finish of the existing kitchen cabinets and houses cabinet faced refrigerator drawers, liquor storage, a wine fridge, and a granite counter with an under-mounted bar sink.

The extensive use of recessed lighting and wall sconces are all integrated into a computerized control panel that is located on the furthest full column that allows for unlimited control of all of the lighting inside and outside as well.

The lower level of the addition remains unfinished. Two nice sized egress windows are included in the space that allows for views and also facilitates other possible uses for the new basement if it doesn’t become a workout room. The landscaping around the window is terraced for greater depth and to allow for more light into the space.

A new brick edged concrete patio, retaining wall, and steps leading down the grade to the pool round off the project.