Renovations interest me because you are joining something that is already happening, and may have been happening for a long time-so while there is room to insert new ideas, you should be singing along with the melody of the existing building , and it’s fun to try and learn that melody.
In this sense “Windswept” is especially interesting. It’s a 2000 sq.ft.± “colonial revival” frame house on one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.
The house was owned by Mary Ellen Chase and is on the National Register, not because of any overwhelming architectural merit, and not even primarily because Mary Ellen Chase lived there for many years in the summer, but because it was more or less the lead character in the book that made her famous in 1940– “Windswept”.
What do you keep and what do you throw away? The building had no foundation, no insulation, exposed plumbing, wildly dangerous wiring, lovely but decrepit windows etc. Our clients wanted a useable house, ideally one that could be used year round, but they had no ambitions to change anything for the sake of change. Nice starting place for working on house that is on the National Register.
When we knew that we would be replacing everything but the framing and sheathing we realized that renovating would cost about 75-100K more than simply replacing the building with a new copy. Our clients mulled that over for the weekend, called me on Monday and said, “Renovate, don’t replace-we want to keep as much of the old place as we can”. Of course when we stripped it down to the frame we found that the house had many pasts. We found both red and green asphalt shingle remnants, we found that the walls, covered with Western red cedar shingles, had once been novelty siding (which now served as the sheathing). We found that the building had about 16 feet added on to each of its H shaped wings around the time Chase bought it.
So what period do you go back to? I read “Windswept”, noting all the specific references to the house—and it is this house, the lead character in the book that we decided would be our guide. So, although the house is now almost entirely new, I think it is somewhat more faithful to the house that you would see in your mind as you read the book, than the house we started with.
The sweeping view to the west and northwest is the essence of this place. This is a shot from the existing deck. Unfortunately I don't have the same shot from the new deck (yet.)
This is existing western elevation. A very simple "colonial revival" summer cottage. Our clients liked all the basics of this house, but needed a year round house
This is the renovated western elevation. The house is in the same location, but we had to raise it about 18" so that we could get positive drainage--it didn't matter in the existing house because it sat on posts on a huge bed of gravel, but we put a basement under the renovated building.
Existing "Master Bedroom" in the northwest corner. We moved some windows in the south wall. This was pretty typical of the house.
Here is the renovated northwest bedroom. We added a window on the north wall which has a spectacular view, and moved a window on the southern wall so there would be room for the bed against the wall. All quiet greys and natural finishes---this is a house where you relax--no pretenses and no frills.