A Cold Winter Still Brings in Sunshine

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When the owners of this suburban Boston home — both natives of Florida — looked to build a kitchen addition, they elected to do it in 2002, which proved to be the coldest winter Massachusetts had seen since 1950. But this climate challenge didn't stop Mitchell Construction.

September 01, 2005

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When the owners of this suburban Boston home — both natives of Florida — looked to build a kitchen addition, they elected to do it in 2002, which proved to be the coldest winter Massachusetts had seen since 1950. But this climate challenge didn't stop Mitchell Construction.

 
With windows spanning two walls, the kitchen addition is bigger, brighter and more user friendly. Packing storage space into the mahogany-topped central island and eliminating upper cabinets allowed natural light to enter unobstructed.

"I loved the project at first glance because of the beautiful location on the pond, as well as the fact that we would be driving the design," says company owner and president Tom Mitchell. His design/build firm handles interior and residential design, residential remodeling, historical renovation and custom home building.

The overarching goals of this project, says Mitchell, were to refresh the exterior and ensure the addition looked like part of the original structure, bring more light into the home, and make the interior more spacious and efficient. The owners especially wanted a well-appointed kitchen that would provide a view of the backyard pond while they cooked.

 
The old kitchen lacked space, light and a view.

The team tore out the existing kitchen, a cramped area with only a single window and an obstructed view of the backyard. That space became the dining area. The 200-square-foot kitchen addition features a bank of four windows directly overlooking the pond, with another three windows directly adjacent. With no wall dividing the kitchen from the dining room, light now streams into the home.

Providing the maximized backyard view required eliminating most uppers from the cabinetry design. The Mitchell team designed just one upper, a display cabinet with glass sides and doors. When placed in front of the window, light shines through, while it still functions as a cabinet. "It was a simple, but fun solution," says Mitchell.

 
A custom glass cabinet adds functionality without blocking natural light.

Because the windows face southwest, Mitchell extended the shallow roofline of the addition 5 feet beyond the edge of the house to deflect direct sun, preventing too much heat or light from entering the kitchen. The eave covers part of a new open porch that adjoins a new screened porch. The porch sits on custom made, 8- by 8-inch cedar posts.

 

During construction, the temperature dove well below zero. After building the addition, the team discovered the existing heating system could not warm the new area above 45 degrees Fahrenheit in such extreme cold. Moreover, the arctic weather made it impractical to shut down the furnace to install the new heating zone. To keep as near to schedule as possible, Mitchell's team framed the walls and roof beams before demolishing the exterior walls they were replacing. The team opened up the existing home only after the addition was complete. It meant one person needed to be inside and one out on a job that could have otherwise been one-person.

"Because of the harsh winter, costs were higher than anticipated on this project," says Mitchell. "In the end, we made less than we hoped, but we earned the respect of our clients, who have referred us to many others. That has more than made up for the lost profits."

 

Remodeler: Mitchell Construction, Medfield, Mass.

Project location: Dover, Mass.

Age of home: 30 years

Scope of project: Kitchen extension, new porch and deck, master bath and closet remodel and new bay window

Products List

Bathroom faucet: Lefroy Brooks. Bathroom sink: Kohler. Dishwasher: Bosch. Disposal: Insinkerator. Grout: Tec. Kitchen faucet: Newport Brass. Kitchen sink: Kindred. Microwave: KitchenAid. Paint: Benjamin Moore. Tile: American Olean. Toilet: Kohler. Tub: Sunrise Specialties.

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