Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Chapter 2: Adirondack Cottage on the Lake Site Planning

View of New Adirondack Cottage on the Lake
Doing a site analysis and the subsequent site specific design that an architect can bring to a project is showcased in this design. The client had lake side property, with a gutted 1950s ranch home on it, and wanted to create a contemporary Adirondack style cottage where they could enjoy the lake year round, and into their retirement.

BEFORE: View from Street Side
BEFORE: View from Lake Side
The existing house on the property was very small and in a state of incomplete interior renovation. It was located very close (only 3') from the NE side property line and the rooms didn't take advantage of the lake views as one would hope. It had a front-loading 2 car garage about the same size as the house. It was determined early on that the engineering to change what was there into what the clients wanted was going to cost more than building new. It was the location, on the side of a peaceful lake, that was the important thing, so we set out to create a new design that took advantage of that.

Site Plan for Adirondack Cottage on the Lake
The town planning and zoning boards were happy to see our proposal to center the new home on the width of the property. With special permissions from The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Zoning Board of Appeals, we kept the construction footprint a bit closer to the back-lake side than was standard, so that an established tree in the front yard could stay. The clients wanted to keep an attached garage, and one of the "Aha" moments came when I suggested rotating the garage entry to the side, instead of having the doors face the front, so the house could look more traditional by "hiding" the garage. For other posts about how architects deal with the unsightliness and impossibly large massing of a garage near the house, click HERE and HERE.

Lake Side with Door to Recreation Room below Living Room
The grade slopes down from the street to the lake with enough vertical change that a the Recreation Room in the cellar can have nice windows and a door out the back, and the cars can drive into the attached garage from the front. This large change in elevation can make the living levels - which are at the level of the street- feel an unfortunate separation from the lake because they are at a a much higher elevation.

The new design works to mitigate this separateness with some re-grading with retaining walls to create a usable level area at the base of a large deck accessed off the Dining and Living Rooms. The choice of a "One and a Half Story" cottage style, in which the second floor is located within the roof space and dormers provide the window space, also serves to minimize the height of the structure. This type of massing also provides for a greater square footage on the ground level, and less upstairs, which works perfectly for the client's wish for a ground-level Master Bedroom Suite. The new Living Room, open to the Entry, Kitchen,  and Dining is to be a soaring high space with a balcony above and many, many windows toward the lake view.

There are always trade-offs, and unfortunately one large tree that was close to the back wall of the former structure did have to be removed . But amazingly, the sewage treatment system (aka septic leach field area) was able to fit outside of the 100' wet lands buffer established around the lake, and this new system will be a major improvement in terms of the health of the lake.

View from Street

Click here to see the previous post about this project:

Friday, February 15, 2019

Family Room Addition to a Village Home- final pics

New Family Room looking toward back yard
This project was a fairly simple and small addition off the back of a historic village home, in the place of a former covered back porch, but it creates a huge change in the house for the family living there.

Like many historic homes, the kitchen is not open to the living area. While new home layouts often have a family room open to the kitchen, layouts in older homes usually have the kitchen tucked away from public, socializing spaces and in a more "service" role. This doesn't really work well for our more casual lifestyles today.

Pocket door to kitchen and Sliding glass door to Covered side porch
Standing in Kitchen looking thru pocket door

This project created a new first floor family room, connected to the back yard with a large deck and to the kitchen with a glass pocket door. This simple change expands the family's space dramatically, allowing for separate teen hangout room, entertaining space between kitchen and yard, possible guest bed space, and even, if needed someday, a first floor bedroom for an older person who can no longer climb the stairs. (The owner created a full first floor bathroom already- another element not often found in older homes.)

Deck notched around tree & connected to side porch & new room
New Window over Kitchen Sink

One "Aha" moment in the design was when I suggested a large back deck off the back of the new room. It offers outdoor living space and helps focus the room toward the large (for the middle of a village) back yard. The deck shape notches around an existing shade tree and has contemporary materials and a large size.

Ditching the idea that because it's an addition on an older home, we needed to mimic historic materials and details, was the other "Aha" moment. The new spaces have a bold color scheme and interior trim that is sleek, not fussy. The window and glass doors are decidedly contemporary in their layout/style/shape/color. The new room has a bit higher-than-standard sloped wood ceiling and recessed lights. The deck has a funky "cattle panel" wood and metal guard rail design.  All this gives it a very different, updated feel from the rest of the historic home. (The exterior woodwork does match the existing home. Siding will be painted to match in warmer weather.)

To see the earlier post about this project click here:

Friday, February 8, 2019

Adirondack Cottage on the Lake: Part 1

(Frozen) Lake View from Property
Let's call this project 'Adirondack Cottage on the Lake'. Construction began this winter after demolition of the existing 50s ranch home on the property. In future posts, I'll discuss the design- a refined Adirondack style featuring wood beams, stone details, and shingle siding that focuses toward the lake with a special glass feature in the double-height living room. We'll also get into how we decided to lay out the different indoor and outdoor "rooms" in relation to each other and the site, as well as the environmental review process, and the decisions that were made to remove the existing home from the property and start fresh and how the town was glad we did.

But for now let's just look at COLD weather, blue sky photos of the crew beginning to form the basic shape of this new one-and-a-half-story home aside the frozen lake.

Foundation and First Floor Framing - View from Lake

Foundation and First Floor Framing -View from Street
First Floor Exterior Wall Studs in Place (tree in front yard saved!)

Wall Sheathing and 2nd Floor Walls
Roof Rafters and Beams
Now that they are beginning to construct roofs, it will start looking more like the drawings soon...