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The Upside-Down House

Moving the main living spaces into a second-story addition reenergized a house for a family of four

When author and architect Michael Roehr and his family returned from a yearlong sabbatical in Mexico, they decided it was time to reinvent their frumpy bungalow into the kind of open, light-filled space they had enjoyed in San Miguel de Allende. Among their goals were another bedroom for the kids and a larger kitchen. But they also wanted to save money. The solution? Move the living spaces upstairs into a spacious, straightforward box built on top of the existing house, and create a third bedroom downstairs with the surgical insertion of a few walls. The large, open second-floor space accommodates living, dining, kitchen, and office, all revolving around an enclosed half-bath. Clerestory windows wrap three sides of the structure, providing light and a convective chimney effect that cools the house.

Magazine extra: Want to see how this house came together? Roehr and his wife, Elisa Bernick, kept a photo journal documenting their home's transformation. Watch the slide show "Remodeling from the Top Down."

The Upside-Down House

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