This small house in Washington’s Cleveland Park Historic District is an anomaly for its neighborhood. It was a modest one-story clapboard cottage built in 1921. Its size was only 1,213 sq. ft. in a neighborhood known for its concentration of much larger architect designed late Victorian houses reminiscent of New England summer homes. One of the adjacent houses is over 6,000 sq. ft. in size and most are 3-story houses. The owner of this bungalow, a Washington editor for a national publication, wanted to gain more space by adding a 2nd story. This required reconstructing the ridge of the roof, raising it almost 2 feet, and adding an attic shed dormer on rear roof slope in order to create a useable 2nd floor living space and to gain an additional 700 sq. ft.
“Landis performed to the highest standard in every aspect of the job. Their design work was exceptional and they were consistently responsive and accessible. High stress levels may be typical for homeowners making major home improvements, but dealing with Landis was never stressful. Their competence and professionalism made the entire process not only painless but actually enjoyable. I would use them again without question.” – The Clients
Raising the roof ridge line of the house was against the Historic Preservation Review Board’s guideline, Roofs on Historic-Buildings, where it is states that the “roofs are one of the most important features of historic buildings” as “their shape, elements, details and materials can significantly contribute to the appearance of buildings.” Getting approval to raise the ridge line, even a modest amount, required review and approval by three different groups: the Cleveland Park Historical Society, the local Advisory Neighborhood Council (ANC), and the DC Historic Preservation Review Board. The local ANC actually recommended against it, but was over-ruled by the Historic Preservation Review Board, because of how well we detailed the changes and kept the proportions of the original home.
Once we had approval, we were able to build a rear attic shed dormer that gave the client a true master suite, move his home office upstairs, while also bringing more light into the house and still retaining the cottage feel. We created an open staircase from the foyer to the 2nd floor and used double pocket doors on the master bedroom suite that both bring light from the back of the house down into the open foyer and create open flow from his master bedroom suite into his open office space overlooking the first floor.
The house had a small footprint and our client wanted to maintain the bungalow feel of the house. In adding a 2nd story we needed to build a staircase to the second floor. We opened up the front foyer and took about a foot of space from an existing downstairs bedroom to create the stairway. We also built a new staircase to the basement which is currently unfinished, but in the future it could become valuable living space. Opening up this staircase did a number of things—it let more light into the front of the house while still getting the circulation to the 2nd floor and without losing a lot of existing square footage. It also made it easy to interact with someone else in a different part of the house keeping the cottage feel.
Because of the historic nature of the house and the neighborhood, one of the trickier issues was leaving the front half of the roof intact while we built underneath it. We were thankful for being given permission to raise the ridge line and did not want to shock the neighbors by removing the entire roof and starting over. We came up with a design that respected the integrity of the original house and does not change the fundamental character of the house. Our addition maintains the shape, pitch and materials of the existing roof and also in keeping with the distinctive architectural features of the house. For instance, we left the dental molding where the previous eave was and made that a horizontal band that we then recreated on the side of house. We remade the dental moldings for the rake boards on the enlarged gable in the same size and style as the existing.
Also, on the exterior, we used complementary, but different materials for the siding of the addition to delineate new from old. We used cedar shingles on the new part to go with the existing 11-inch cedar lap siding on the original house.
On the interior of the house, we matched the door, window casings and head details. We matched the door styles and the rift and quartered oak floors and stairs. The owner had a number of pieces of stained glass that he wanted to incorporate into the house.
We made use of some of the stained on both interior and exterior windows. Exterior windows were made to fit the size of the stained glass such as the one he wanted used above the bed. As part of solution to bringing more light into the upstairs foyer office area, we added a skylight in the master bath and flanked both sides of the bathroom mirror with two leaded glass sidelites that we salvaged from a Baltimore architectural yard. We again created opening to fit both pieces. The bathroom is on one side and the home office on the other.
In building the staircase to the 2nd-floor, the owner lost a bookcase that he had in the front foyer. He has an extensive book collection, so we had ample custom-crafted bookcases and niches built upstairs to accommodate his book collection and other collectibles.
We retained the quaint cottage feel. The overall result was extremely successful. We created a really comfortable house that flows well, still feels like a cottage, and when you are in any part of the house, feel connected to the rest of the home. The house which originally had two bedrooms (one of which was used as the owner’s office) and one bath, now has three bedrooms, two baths, and a home office. There are two bedrooms downstairs and one master bedroom upstairs. To achieve this, we very successfully added an attic shed dormer on the roof rear slope, raised the ridge line by two feet, and still maintained the character of the original house. It is not visible from the street, is designed with compatible materials and evokes the style of dormers typical of early 20th century bungalows.
October 30, 2014