Putting the Craft in a Pattern-Book House
In one of the D.C. area’s most desirable neighborhoods, a potential teardown gets reworked for modern living.
Synopsis: When architect Charlie Moore’s clients bought this house in Alexandria, Va., they almost tore it down. It had been mucked up over the years with poorly executed remodeling projects. But because local zoning regulations precluded building their dream house—a Craftsman-style bungalow—they decided to hire Moore to rework this old house for modern living. By getting rid of the garage, they gained space for a pair of two-story additions and a private backyard. The result is light-filled living areas revolving around the kitchen downstairs, and private spaces orbiting a spacious gallery upstairs. They also added some Craftsman to the plan, with a covered front porch, a stone-veneer foundation, and faux-slate roofing.
Architect Charlie Moore had seen this house many times before the Beddards’ Realtor asked him to consult on a possible purchase. Well, not this particular house, but many variations of the same plan, which was built around the Alexandria, Va., area in the 1920s. “It’s a pattern-book or catalog house,” Moore says. “There’s a bunch of them around with the same asymmetrical saltbox shape turned sideways from the street.”
The reason why the most likely fate of this “neat little house” was to be torn down, says Moore, was not so much that it had been “mucked up” over the years with poorly executed additions and remodelling projects, but that it is in one of the Washington, D.C., area’s most desirable neighborhoods. In other words, the value of the existing house was not in the structure, but in the property and its proximity to our nation’s capital. Jeannie Beddard in particular liked the location for the “short walk to the local elementary school and the small town atmosphere.”
The truth is that the Beddards might have torn down the house had…