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Whole House with Addition

Adding space allows preservation of formal living space

December 31, 2003


Connecting the addition to the existing home took smart planning, especially because the basement level of the new space was to have 9-foot ceilings. Spectrum Contractors began by doing underpinning work across the back of the existing foundation and then cut below it to create the addition's foundation. Stairs connect the old and new portions of the basement to accommodate their height difference. In redoing the kitchen, Spectrum removed the existing chimney and surrounding masonry. The crew supported the chimney from the second floor up and ran metal flue pipe within the wall, providing more wall space for kitchen cabinets.
Remodeler: Spectrum Contractors, Gaithersburg, Md.

Architect: GTM Architects, Kensington, Md.

Project location: Alexandria, Va.

Age of home: approximately 70 years

Scope of work: two-phase project: a three-floor addition with a screened porch, and renovation work throughout the existing house over 20 months
See the Floor Plan

In seeking more open and informal living space, the homeowners did not want to disrupt the grand living space or the fatade of their 5,200-square-foot Colonial home, with its tall roof lines, large spans and traditional center hall. A 5,400-square-foot addition to the rear of the Alexandria, Va., home gave the family informal space, and renovation of the existing house produced a more modern layout while maintaining the charm and character that initially attracted the homeowners.

In designing and building the addition, George Myers, president of GTM Architects, and Bob Klecker, owner of Spectrum Contractors, focused on three things: masking the size of the addition so it fit within the streetscape, balancing indoor and outdoor living space, and keeping the addition in the existing home's style and scale, especially with matching masonry, slate roofing, gables, detailing, and interior and exterior trim.

The addition consists of a basement recreational area; a first floor with a family room, a two-car garage and a mud room; and a second floor with a master bedroom suite and two full bathrooms for the adjoining bedrooms in each of the existing home's two wings. On the first and second floors, galleries detailed with oversize entries, crown molding, paneled wainscoting and, at each end, palladium windows connect the existing home and the addition. The first-floor gallery creates a more open relationship among the new family room, kitchen and mud room by connecting the spaces. The second-floor gallery gives unfettered access to the bedrooms on the wings. Previously, they could be accessed only by walking through other bedrooms in between.

In the existing home, Spectrum gutted the first-floor spaces and redid all of the drywall, trim and hardwood floors. It replaced all of the windows and opened the two enclosed porches flanking the front entry. The remodeler completely redid the kitchen and reconfigured portions of the existing space to create a butler's pantry, a breakfast room and a study. Many of the rooms now feature a variety of traditional builtins: custom kitchen cabinets, an in-wall entertainment system and a wet bar in the first-floor living and working spaces, and desks and bookcases in each bedroom.

Beyond the built-ins' traditional style, Myers says he maintained the tradition of a Colonial by widening openings between rooms, rather than removing walls, to preserve room definition while creating more open spaces. "In older houses like this, where it is more formal, you might have one 5-foot cased opening into the room, so it's very boxy," Myers says. "Keeping the walls intact gives a greater visual continuity from room to room. You still see a nice ceiling, like a rectangular ceiling with a crown."


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