Fix the Flow of the House With a Backyard Addition
A new family room and master suite, improved entries, and an updated building envelope saved this home from the wrecking ball, again.
Synopsis: This small house had been moved to another lot almost 75 years ago—and turned 90° away from the street. As a result, the front entry abruptly dumped visitors into a cramped dining room. The kitchen was hardly much better—a deficit of counter and storage space, and a surfeit of junk that made its way into and out of the house through the perpetually used side entry. Author and architect Michael Klement was hired by the homeowners to remedy this situation. His energy-efficient remodel came to life in an addition on the back of the house, which allowed for long, open sightlines throughout the home; improved the side entry; and found space for a new family room, mudroom, and powder room. The kitchen is now free to perform one function: cooking.
I don’t know if it was the fact that we had to tuck the dining room chairs all the way under the table to open the front door, or if it was all the groceries, shoes, and coats we had to move just to get to the basement door, but it was clear the first time I visited the Blakelys’ home that better entries and circulation and more practical spaces were desperately needed. What was less obvious was that the key to solving the many problems at the front of the house would take the shape of a two-story addition in back.
The Blakelys’ small house was built in 1905. Only 30 years later, it was spared from the wrecking ball and moved down the street to its current lot when the University of Michigan decided to build a new stadium, ironically nicknamed “The Big House.” A few years ago, when the Blakelys called my firm about remodelling their home, we found it was still in pretty good…