Designing for Comfort and Light
A cramped ‘60s colonial opens up with French doors, more windows, and wider passageways.
Synopsis: The Pratt family wanted their dark, cramped colonial to be transformed into a light-filled, open home. They longed for a home with character, comfort and a casual feel. Architect Jennifer Huestis transformed their home with more space, more light, less formality, and rooms that were separate and connected at the same time. The result is a year-round home that feels like a vacation house.
The small 1960s colonial with its characteristic dark halls, closed-up rooms, and cheap trim detail didn’t really suit the Pratt family’s personality. The Pratts are a creative, easygoing family with two boys at home and one in college. They spend much of their time outside enjoying the yard they love, but they also pursue various indoor activities alone and together, like playing music or reading. In addition, they like to entertain groups large and small.
Even though they didn’t love their house, they did love the land it sat on. After deciding to remodel the house rather than move to a new one, the family did research to be sure they would get what they wanted. When they finally met with architect Jennifer Huestis, they presented her with a notebook filled with pictures cut from books and magazines to convey the look and feel they were after. They wanted more space, more light, less formality, and rooms that were separate and connected at the same time. Their new house, they said, should be a year-round home that felt like a vacation house.
Double duty- wider openings mean more light and better flow
Rooms flowing into each other have an informality about them that the Pratts liked, but their colonial was a maze of hallways that impeded this flow. To strengthen the connection between rooms, Huestis eliminated the hallways by expanding the rooms into them. She then connected the rooms with openings 6 or 8 feet wide. These wider openings make a smaller area feel large while still delineating individual spaces.
The result is that someone in the living room can feel connected to the activities in the adjoining rooms without actually being a part of them, perfect for this close-knit family that enjoys independent activities. If one of the Pratts wants some privacy, he or she can retreat to the library or the kitchen, both of which have glass doors that separate the rooms without closing them off.
The widening of the openings between rooms also added much-needed light to the house. More light comes from transom windows that sit above the openings. These doorways could just as easily have been open all the way to the ceiling. They still would have added to the informal flow and increased light, but they would have been too tall. By using the transoms, Huestis retained the assets of the large openings but brought them down to a more manageable scale.
The common rooms all have one wall dominated by windows. The kitchen now has three large windows over the sink. The dining and living rooms have French doors surrounded by banks of windows that look out to the backyard.
For more photos and details on this renovation to add light and open spaces, click the View PDF button below.