Rather than part with their charming 1920-era cottage revival home on a shady little-traveled street in the highly desirable neighborhood of upper Sugar House, the family decided to make it new and tailor it to their maturing family’s needs. To do so, they assembled a team that they were sure would remain sensitive to what they wished to preserve while giving them needed changes: contractor Living Home (Chris Towson), Renovation Design Group (Annie Schwemmer), and Susan Taggart Design.
Photos by Scot Zimmerman
The updates preserved the home’s asymmetrical face with the sweeping curve to the roof line, the shingled eyebrow, and the arched doorway. The new efficient windows retain the paned mullions appropriate to the era. To the neighborhood, the home looks much the same and fits the streetscape.
Two pairs of French doors open from the living room to a front patio. Shady and partially screened by landscape, it is a perfect perch to watch passersby and to converse with neighbors.
The home is approaching 100 years old, built at a time when people had far fewer belongings than we do now. The homeowners desired the storage, greater connection between social spaces, and modern kitchen and bath fixtures, plumbing and appliances one would have in a more recently constructed home. The convenient pegs for coats and bags add storage to the entry.
The redesign broadened the doorways between rooms with archways that almost span the width of the wall. This retains the feel of separate rooms while allowing the same connections and easy circulation as an open plan for a contemporary livability. Note how the curved cornice moldings reiterate the curve of the arch. You can see the paired French doors that lead to the front patio. To the left, the new design removed a doorway to a bedroom; the now-solid wall allows for more seating with the paired sofas.
The bright dining room has broad arches on two walls and ample windows on the other two. Essentially functioning as an open plan, the room retains a separate individual character with the archways.
It must be such a pleasure to prepare a meal in this kitchen with ample counter space, volumes of storage, all new appliances, and a window over the kitchen sink—an essential for some.
The redesign eliminated one upstairs bedroom, allowing the new plan to add spaciousness to the master suite and bath.
The new stairway continues with a sense of openness with the thin metal balustrade above and low wall.
A new family room in the basement makes the downstairs bedroom and bath almost an apartment for the college student living and taking classes from home.
I hear a lot of conversations about sensible downsizing from folks nearing retirement, but they say there are very few options. They don’t want a big single-family home with a large yard to care for but moving to a multi-level apartment building and losing access to a garden or yard is just too big a step. A home like this in a friendly walkable neighborhood seems to me to be just about perfect.
Find more charming cottage remodels here!