Denver's older neighborhoods have what every city-dweller longs for: great parks, homes with timeless character, and easy access to a complete range of urban amenities. The only drawback: The homes are small, usually at or below 1,200 square feet, with little room to grow. Most are brick bungalows, Victorians or Denver squares with cramped rooms built for working-class families of the early 20th century.
Converting the attic into a master suite required a vertical addition and new siding and roofing that matched the historic aesthetic.
For many families seeking more space, the suburbs seem the only solution. But others refuse to give up the enriching pulse of an urban lifestyle and wish to preserve the integrity of their historic homes — like the owners of this two-story Victorian Vernacular, who recruited Classic Homeworks to handle the remodel.
"We were excited about this project, because this type of job fits perfectly within our demographic," says project coordinator Joel Jay Oatten, CR, CAPS. Classic Homeworks concentrates on historic neighborhoods within a 5-mile radius of downtown Denver.
"Our clients typically choose quality of life over expensive material possessions," says marketing director Kim Hoyer. "They would choose a higher quality of life and truly comfortable home over a new BMW any day."
According to Oatten, remodeling these historic homes presents a unique set of challenges:
- designing to maximize the function of small spaces without sacrificing style;
- ensuring architectural integrity;
- improving energy efficiency; and
- doing all of this after decades of repairs or remodels by well-meaning, do-it-yourself homeowners.
The owners of the bungalow had lived there for 20 years and were determined to spend another 20 years in the neighborhood they had grown to love. Topping their wish list was a larger bedroom and private bath for their teenage daughter. For themselves, they wanted a private, large master suite. The solution was to build an addition and redesign the existing second story and its hodgepodge of small rooms.
The Classic Homeworks team carved out a space on the second floor to house the washer and dryer, which had been located in a cramped cellar. The second floor also features an area to exhibit the owners' antique collection. Finally, the new master bedroom features a large walk-in closet, a sitting area, and a bathroom with an oversized shower, bench and custom glass door.
As part of the project, the team replaced the existing garage with a new 660-square-foot, two-car garage that also accommodates a small wood shop.
"We took the same steps with the garage as we did with the addition — to respect the beauty and charm of the surrounding area," says Oatten. "We used the same materials that were used on the existing structure, including cedar shake siding laid in the same pattern."
Throughout the project, the Classic Homeworks team employed environmentally friendly building techniques and products to the fullest extent possible: Optimal Value Engineering framing; above-code insulation consisting of R-23 blown-in fiberglass blankets, or BIBS; energy-efficient windows; and compact design to maximize space efficiency and conserve materials.
According to Oatten, the team sees itself as stewards of Denver's history as well as of the environment.
"I'd love to tell you there were challenges that made this job an exciting project," says Oatten. "You'd probably like to hear me describe all the innovative ways we solved one crisis or another, but we take a lot of steps up front to avoid such memorable job site events."
Crafting an urban oasis