A Suburban Metamorphosis
A modest renovation transforms hodgepodge of revival styles into a coherent shingle-style design.
Synopsis: Husband-and-wife architects discuss how they renovated their home to enlarge their master bedroom, add an attic office space, and eliminate a confusion of exterior architectural details. Included are construction details on how they eliminated a gambrel roof and raised the bedroom ceiling by adding a structural ridge, as well as a sidebar on an alternative to triple-track aluminum storm windows.
Evidently, our home’s builder had a great respect for several revival styles because he made sure that many were well represented. Built in the 1920s during a suburban cottage-revival period, the house combined gambrel rooflines and a brownstone base with the Tudor styling of fake timbers and stucco. The color scheme ranged from brown to browner. The fact that we are both architects made us more sensitive to the problems. After living in the house for six years, we decided we’d had enough.
Our plan was somehow to unify the exterior styles. We decided to replace the pseudo-Tudor trim with a consistent shingle-style interpretation and to alter the line of the gambrel roofs. At the same time, we planned both to enlarge the master bedroom and to add an office space in the attic.
A new roof over the existing roof
Our proposed revision of the existing gambrel roofs on both sides of the main house generated a good deal of discussion early on in the project. We were anxious to change the appearance of the roof, but were daunted by the potential cost and extent of the work. After some deliberating and sketching, we proposed extending the gambrel’s upper roof down and raising the sidewalls up to meet the eave. The construction of this new roof was complicated by the fact that we were living in the house. We got around this potential problem by leaving…