Brett Waterman Home Restoration • 1903 Architectural Mystery
A family’s desire to share space led to an architectural surprise as this restoration unfolded.
Bringing the Family Together
The homeowners of this 1903 home were unhappy with all the divisions within and between rooms. The house felt disjointed to them, and they couldn’t see their kids from one room to the next. They wanted their children to be present with them as an entire family.
When they made the purchase, they thought they were buying an American Foursquare home that had been remodeled at some point. Brett Waterman’s research proved otherwise. It was constructed over a hundred years ago with a smaller footprint, but owners in the 1950s or ‘60s decided to make a change. They gutted the interior and doubled the footprint by adding on a new kitchen to the rear of the home. At the same time, those owners made stylistic changes that reflect an American Colonial design aesthetic.
When Waterman approached the restoration he had to take a step back—the house presented quite a list of puzzles to solve, he said.
"We had to try to pinpoint an architectural style to drive our decisions."
Considering the year it was constructed, he and his team moved forward with an Edwardian restoration, a less-ornamented style developed from the Victorian movement after the death of Queen Victoria and the ascent of her son, Edward VII. "The style of the home turned out to be a little more formal than the homeowners expected," Waterman said.
Waterman’s team flipped some room designations, turning a front playroom into a formal dining room with Neo-Classical period details. They also added a wood feature wall to the front entry to help create further definition and separation between spaces. On the exterior, the team built a parapet wall over the front porch with Edwardian fish scale detailing. Lee Tosca, Waterman’s design and production manager, said they chose to reinstate the parapet after earlier photographs showed a similar feature on the original house.
Redefining What a Space Can Do
All of that led to the main project of tackling the homeowners’ wishes to be together: a new hybrid space combining a kitchen and family room. Waterman took space from the adjacent laundry room to expand the kitchen. Also, a large, long cabinet was removed from the center of the kitchen to open more space. With the new open area and new hardwood flooring in place, they installed a stone breakfast bar between a pair of structural support columns. The breakfast bar acts as a division between the kitchen and the new sitting and play area created from the expanded space.
Now, with the room hybridization, the house is a more cohesive unit despite earlier remodeling. And, more importantly to Waterman, it fits the clients’ needs. He worked to balance those needs with a level of architectural faithfulness to the original design. Ultimately the earlier changes to the home were extensive enough that a complete restoration was out of the question. So, the home will contain elements of design from multiple decades of styles. That's fairly typical, though, Waterman said.
"Many homes are a blend, at least in the United States. They’re a mix of architectural styles."
Louvered Can Light Covers
Can light covers control the direction of the light and add a refined finishing detail to an otherwise generic lighting solution that can detract from period styling.
Refrigerator panels were added and fabricated with a custom design to match the new formal aesthetic.
Pulls and Hinges
A combination of reproduction pulls from Emtek and salvaged, restored hinges solidify the period aesthetic as accents throughout the space.
Two columns couldn’t be removed from the room without risking structural stability, so the team worked within this limitation to design a breakfast bar that helps to define the room’s size and function.
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