Sunroom Addition

The common presumption when adding to an almost two-century-old historic Georgian home is that preserving design authenticity is key. But although maintaining authenticity was key in this Virginia sunroom addition, the exacting homeowners wanted casual living space that was modern and of its own time.

April 30, 2007

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Sunroom Addition
Products List
Made its own mold(ing)

Bricks on the base blend the new with the old. Detailed millwork, siding and a balustraded low-slope copper roof complement the existing structure without detracting from the vintage style of the original home.
After photos by Taylor Dabney, Photographer

The common presumption when adding to an almost two-century-old historic Georgian home is that preserving design authenticity is key. But although maintaining authenticity was key in this Virginia sunroom addition, the exacting homeowners wanted casual living space that was modern and of its own time.

They came to HomeMasons of Manakin-Sabot, Va., via referral, two years after engaging another architect who, in the estimation of HomeMasons president C. Mason Hearn Jr., had created a thoughtful but uninspired replica of the existing home. The homeowners couldn't articulate what they didn't like about the approach, but they simply weren't connecting with it. Hearn, however, saw the problem: the project draft was mimicking what was already there. More than being a Georgian, the home also had influences from Federal architecture and hints of other classical styles that together, made the house unique beyond its age.

Before

Hearn saw parallels between the house and the Thomas Jefferson-designed Academical Village on the University of Virginia's campus that was so attractive and fascinating to him: different architectural styles and interpretations blend together in design with the attention to details, proportions and craftsmanship.

"Good preservation ethic for a nice historic home like this means the addition shouldn't look like it's always been there," he says. "An addition should be of its own time architecturally, and it should be respectful. To simply replicate what's there is an injustice to the rest of the home, and it's architecturally deceptive."

One of the aspects remodeler and architect C. Mason Hearn Jr. is most proud of throughout this project is the incorporation of contemporary technology and conveniences. For example, though it's a pre-fabricated engineered gas insert, the fireplace still looks traditional, and the cabinet above houses a flat-panel television.

From this vantage point, Hearn and his team set about designing a clean, simple sunroom addition that complemented the existing home. He only used brick on the crawlspace base, opting for siding for the majority of the structure. And rather than a slate slope roof, the team used a low-slope copper roof with ornamental balustrades around the perimeter to give it a "high-hat" that echoed the railing system. "The top/cap creates a good architectural balance between the base, body and head; without a pitched roof, the addition would be without a head," Hearn says.

The sunroom's interior holds the projects' most prominent details, which lie in its white millwork: paneled columns, pilasters, baseboards, crown molding and a window apron. Reclaimed antique heart pine flooring connect with the age and authenticity of the home while trimless, hole-in-the-wall lighting gives a modern look and functionality that doesn't compete with the distinguished feel.

The 780-square-foot addition (approximately 1,560-square-feet with the crawlspace) was part of a larger whole house remodel that was completed in one year; this phase represents approximately five-and-a-half months of work.

Says Hearn: "This project is about design you feel — the heart of the project is a very general concept, and everything else we did was just detail, exquisite craftsmanship and follow-through."

 

Sunroom Addition

REMODELER AND ARCHITECT: HomeMasons, Manakin-Sabot, Va.
PROJECT LOCATION: Montpelier, Va.
AGE OF HOME: 175 years old
SCOPE OF WORK: Add sunroom as part of a larger whole-house project


Products List

HVAC: Trane Doors: Pella Fireplace: Majestic Flooring: Mountain Lumber Lighting Fixtures: Halo, Progress, Sea Gull Housewrap: Tyvek Insulation: Owens Corning Locksets: Schlage Paints & Stains: ICI Millwork & Molding: Crown Molding & Door Co. Siding: James Hardie, Azek Windows: Weather Shield


Made its own mold(ing)

 

Remodeler and architect C. Mason Hearn Jr. of HomeMasons noticed each room in the existing home had its own millwork profile. Rather than choosing one of these 10 to use in the addition, HomeMasons decided to stay true to the history and designed another profile altogether. This encompassed almost one month of continuous design time, weeks of elaborate field measurements and photo documentation of each room for study and comparison. All of the carpentry was performed in-house with a team of up to four carpenters.

"The client really let us run with the design of individualized trim work for the addition, and they encouraged us to develop it fully," Hearn says. "There's a certain type of demanding that we look for in a client, and if they set the bar too low, it's probably not a project we want to do because anyone can do it. This was about executing a project at a higher level for someone who wanted something at a higher level."

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