Mary Ellen Place

Historical Renovation/Restoration, single story addition and first floor remodel

Clients Needs
Open up the back of the house for greater connectivity to the adjoining spaces. Provide an enlarged back entry with a mudroom for transitioning between the outside and inside, a powder room, a place for the dog’s crate, and provide ample storage to hide the clutter of kids and the adults clothing. Incorporate a drop zone between the mudroom and the kitchen with a planning area and charging station, and have a spot for the dog’s dishes. Remodel the kitchen to include more storage and eat at space, create a bigger family room with built-ins for storage and access to the patio, and have a place for the family computer where the kids can be seen and heard.

Before & During

Historical Sensibility
The house, a Federal style brick Colonial, was built in 1930. A matching brick could not be found. Bricks from the existing house were reclaimed and used in the quoins on the corners and at the window sills. The new interior trim was specially made to match the existing, and the new hardwood flooring was woven into the existing floors of the unaltered spaces. A prevalent use of new painted millwork and casework was used to compliment the other architectural elements of the house.

Several interior walls that separated the kitchen from the family room were removed, and the existing opening between the family room and living room more than doubled in width. Although the footprint of the addition is relatively small, the effect on the openness and light in the spaces is significant. Interior traffic now moves freely from place to place with great visibility between rooms.

Initially, it was presumed that two of the walls being removed in the kitchen would not affect any structure. The engineer disagreed, and designed for three microlams to support the living space above. Because of their size, the microlams dropped several inches below the finished plane of the ceiling. To counter the negative appearance this created, we turned it into a design detail that resulted in a coffered ceiling; concealing the microlams within one of the box beams.

With a limited amount of reclaimed brick available, something else had to be done to make the addition look appropriate. . Building the entire single story addition out of brick concerned us that it would look like a big brick box was hauled in and attached. Using the reclaimed bricks as quoins and sills, and incorporating subtly textured cream colored stucco (not EIFS), the addition appears lighter and balances well with the original structure.


An unfavorable local lending environment, where comparable home values and appraisals were being greatly under estimated, made it imperative not to make this the most expensive house in the neighborhood. These circumstances also dictated the loan value potential; with just how much the bank would require down for obtaining favorable terms. Simply stated, if this project was going to happen, the budget could not exceed $250,000.00. It didn’t.