In Salt Lake City’s Yalecrest neighborhood, a modern addition delivers new life to a stately old Tudor.

Make no mistake, Alex and Sarah Lowe love their historic home in Salt Lake City’s Yalecrest neighborhood. “I grew up in the house two doors down and have always been crazy about old homes,” says Sarah, who waxes poetically about their Tudor-style home’s cherished features, including meandering front walkways, leaded glass windows, timeworn handrails, century-old tilework and the echo of old wood floors underfoot. The couple retained these and other beloved details when they gave the house a top-to-bottom restoration after purchasing it nine years ago. But it still lacked what the family needed to make it truly livable. “We wanted an open kitchen and a living space that connects to the backyard and the creek below,” Sarah explains. 

The original kitchen, like many in old homes, was cramped and tucked away in the back away from the main living areas. And the rear of the house provided little access or connection to the backyard. “It really didn’t work for the way people live today,” Sarah explains. So the couple decided to bring the house into the 21st century—an endeavor that wasn’t without challenges. 

Because the Lowe’s Tudor is a contributing structure in the Yalecrest National Historic District and located more specifically within a Salt Lake City Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, it is protected from demolition, and any modifications to the house are regulated. As a result, the design of the addition would need to meet the local design guidelines related to size and scale, materials and finishes to ensure compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. Enter architect Warren Lloyd, principal of Lloyd Architects.

The Lowes began the process by hiring Lloyd because he lived in the neighborhood, had chaired the SLC Historic Landmark Commission and had completed many notable historic projects—several of which featured modern additions. “He shares our love of old homes and modern architecture,” Sarah says.  The project’s dream team also included builder John Ford of J. Ford Construction, interior designer Brynne Flowers of John Martine Studio and Jessica Hintze of Dig Landscape. “The collaborative effort of the owners and team was so impressive, and it really shows in the finished product,” Ford says. 

A shared vision drove the design. “Our objective was to create a more modern addition to the house that is functional and allows for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle and access to the backyard with a pool and a trail that goes to Red Butte Creek below,” says Lloyd, who brought on project architect Anna Friend. The duo understood and appreciated the restrictions and responsibilities related to protecting the 94-year-old house and its historic neighborhood. “We wanted the addition to be a product of its own time, yet reflect and respect the original house,” Lloyd says.

On that note, the architects designed a strikingly modern, two-story extension that includes a great room—kitchen, casual dining and family room—on the main floor. The new structure opens to a new swimming pool and re-landscaped yard via floor-to-ceiling accordion windows. Upstairs, an open hallway, two bedrooms and a shared bathroom serve two of the Lowes’ children. “We basically cut off the back of the house at the point of the original kitchen and added this glass-and-steel box on the rear,” Lloyd explains.  

To aesthetically link the modern addition to the historic house, Lloyd and Friend detailed the “glass glazed box” with fenestration and windows that relate to those of the original house. “Rather than large, single panes of glass, there are divisions in the windows systems,” he says. This scale, Friend explains, is more harmonious with the brick and diamond fenestration of the house. The addition’s flat roof similarly complements the Tudor-style home, allowing the back of the house to be seen rising above the new addition, as if crowning it with its soaring peaked roof. “We were very intent on preserving the visual connection to the Tudor house and its half-timbered gable in the back,” Lloyd says. 

The team also rebuilt the outdoor living area that tops the revamped detached garage, transforming the patio space into a pavilion and pool house featuring stylish outdoor living, dining and kitchen areas. To access the narrow backyard and bring in the heavy equipment and materials needed for excavation and building, Ford and site supervisor Forrest Parsons cleverly created a temporary ramp by shoring up and completely burying the detached garage in dirt. “This project was a series of  ‘This is what we want to do, so how do we accomplish it?’ challenges,” Ford says. 

In back, the regraded site boasts a new pool bordered by a raised wood deck on one side and lawn with inset paver steps on the other, courtesy of landscape designer Hintz. “We were really inspired by the architecture and strived to complement and enforce the message with a historical/traditional landscape in front and a more contemporary/linear landscape design in back,” she says. Beyond the rectilinear pool, a path leads to Red Butte Creek and an old cabin at the bottom of the deep property. “It’s like a gradient that moves from formal to organic,” says Friend, describing the ombré-like transition from the Tudor house to its modern addition and the renewed landscape beyond. 

The modern addition and tree-shaded backyard inspire the structure’s in-process interior design. “We want to expand upon the symbiotic indoor-outdoor connection,” says Flowers, who continues to work with Sarah—a fashion stylist by trade—to finish the decidedly modern decor. Building on a fearless backdrop of terrazzo floors, boldly patterned stone, streamlined cabinetry and a two-story brick wall faced with open bookshelves, they reject any need to include historic design elements. “The modern addition was intentionally meant to feel just that—a modern addition on a classic Tudor home,” Flowers says. “We want the two to complement one another, but we aren’t trying to make the addition feel as though it has always been there because it simply hasn’t.” The finished spaces will feature modern rounded silhouettes, nature-inspired textures and shots of verdant green—Sarah’s favorite color—all chosen to animate and unify the anything-but-timid decor. “Stay tuned,” Sarah says with a laugh. 

Today, the modern addition delivers everything the Lowes wanted, and more. “The juxtaposition is what I love most,” Sarah exclaims. “The new addition is so livable and it makes the old house shine even more.”  

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Brad Mee
Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.