This older couple wanted to create a forever home where they could age in place and welcome family and friends. They purchased a small house on a large lot – a rare find close to downtown Bethesda. We worked with them to reclaim and donate as much as possible from the existing house prior to demolition.
The overall house design and location provide features that address four main requests from the client:
• Aging-in-Place Features
• Understated Design
• Maximizing Garden/Landscape Area
• Optimal Orientation for Solar Panels
The couple’s goal is to live in the house as long as possible, so they wanted wheelchair access to all major parts of the house. Starting with the exterior, they wanted a level, walk-in front door, and a walk-in garage/basement entry. With a lot that had a 6-foot grade change, it was a construction and aesthetic challenge to make it resemble a natural grade. The house also has an elevator. Instead of taking up circulation space and views from front to back, we designed it so the stairs pinwheel around it.
At the upper level, the flow between the master bedroom, bath, and closet are designed with wider clearances for future wheelchair use. We included blocking in the bathroom walls for future grab bars.
The owners did not want the house to look like some of the other massive additions in the neighborhood – they wanted an understated design that blended with the original homes on the street. Our designer used a small house form, scaling it up to create higher ceilings and comfortable, not massive rooms. To create the massing we wanted, we built a more expensive beamed roof structure rather than using trusses.
The clients requested a transitional style – a traditional look with less detailing and crisper, straighter lines. We leaned toward the Craftsman style to create the look they wanted. For example, the entry foyer has simple built-in bookcases. That with the straight lines in the staircase create a subtle look. This is different from the grand entries of many of the new homes in the neighborhood
The clients loved the kitchen in their previous house so much, they asked us to create a similar look. It has warm wood cabinetry, beige quartz countertops, quartz with a soapstone look on the island, beige subway tile. The kitchen is open to an adjacent dining space, a casual family room, and the dining room. It is also located near the screened porch. The passthrough under the wine rack right provides easy access to the dining room and good flow for entertaining