Just outside Boston, in the town of Wellesley, Mass., the owners of a home that bordered conservation land faced changing needs. After purchasing the 1,700-square-foot, 1930 house, the residents performed a renovation in 1995 to increase the size to 2,000 square feet. Over time the family of four grew to a family of six, and the owners were ready for a master suite, home office and a larger place to entertain guests. They loved the house, neighborhood and peaceful conservation land abutting their backyard, so rather than move, the owners decided to undertake a 2,600-square-foot addition to more than double the home’s size.
The $1.6 million addition included a master suite; his and her bathrooms; a 2-story mahogany library that serves as an entertainment room and home office; a guest room and guest bathroom; a large basement renovation with a recreation room, gym and mechanical room; and a new entryway. The project won the Silver award in Qualified Remodeler’s 2010 Master Design Awards in the Room Addition over $100,000 category.
True to the Original
The original 2-story house was designed by acclaimed residential architect Royal Barry Wills, who earned high regard for his modernized Cape Cod and Colonial Revival homes during the first half of the 20th century. Wanting to preserve the home’s architectural character, the owners retained the designer who had handled their renovation years before, Tom Catalano of Boston’s Catalano Architects Inc.
“Our ultimate objective was that the addition not be apparent from the street to remain respectful of the original structure and retain its classic appeal,” Catalano notes. “We accomplished this through a variety of architectural devices, techniques and materials.”
The addition was set on the east side of the house. To accommodate a new entry gallery that leads to the living room and new addition, Catalano moved the front porch forward by 12 feet. Arched white-oak beams and columns that supported the former porch had deteriorated, and new hand-hewn ones were fashioned from white oak to match the originals. Catalano further maintained continuity by extending the front porch across the new length of the house.
Exterior stucco, roof slate, whitewash basket-weave brick, live-edge siding boards that reveal the tree they were cut from, oak trim and locally sourced stone are identical to the materials used in the 1930’s construction. Granite, bluestone and brick paving incorporated in uniform and combination patterns around the house harmonize with the previous outdoor spaces.
A new garden shed near the street is reminiscent of a gatehouse and visually breaks up the scale and length of the renovated home. The shed shares much of the home’s exterior detailing with a similar slate roof, copper details and a custom cupola.
Rustic to Refined
Although the existing house favored a provincial quality, the owners sought a more sophisticated atmosphere for the addition’s interior. Catalano responded with elegant finishes and voluminous spaces.
“By articulating the ceilings, I could express the structure without making the tall spaces seem cavernous,” he explains. “Ample wood, traditional detailing and joinery techniques also lend a refined aesthetic to the new rooms.” Catalano worked with the owners and interior designer Chris Benson of Boston-based Benson Interiors Inc. to work out the specifics for each room.
The master suite has vaulted ceilings with painted beams that were built onsite. The ceiling, molding and windows are all highly detailed. A wood-burning fireplace and wall-mounted media center lie at the foot of the bed. His and her bathrooms are joined by a shared glass steam shower but separated from the master bedroom, which allows an owner to bathe, shower and get ready without disturbing a sleeping spouse. Curved elliptical beams divide the ceilings in the bathrooms to define the smaller spaces. Radiant heating in the floor is topped by custom ceramic tiles. Built-ins and separate walk-in closets maximize storage space.
The grand library has mahogany walls, custom cabinetry, a cathedral ceiling and wall of windows that ushers abundant light into the space. A wood-burning fireplace adds warmth, and a media center and wet bar allow the library to easily be transformed into an entertainment room.
In the new basement, a gym helps the owners stay in shape and a game/recreation room provides entertainment for their children. As part of the construction, the contractor put in a new HVAC system for the entire house and added a mechanical room.
The owners and their four children lived in the house during the two-year construction period, requiring that The Remodeling Co., Beverly, Mass., meticulously work around the bustling family’s schedule to minimize disruption. Because there was no new stairway in the addition, the construction team had to use the home’s main stairway in the house and traverse the hallway for access. Therefore, the crew tried to do most of its interior work using an exterior hydraulic lift for access in an attempt to enter the occupied home as little as possible.
In addition, several complications arose during the remodeling process. A significant rock ledge wrapped around the house where the addition was planned.
“The ledge was exposed in the front but it ran below grade in the back, so we couldn’t determine its full depth and impact. It created a major barrier to excavating for the new basement and foundation,” explains Gary Moffie, CGR, CAPS, president of The Remodeling Co. The crew had to core, drill and split the rock, as well as dig it out. That process alone took several months.
Moreover, one of the town’s main drains went through the east side of the property and dispelled storm water into a pond located in the conservation area behind the house. Although the town did not have an easement on the site, the amount of time the drain had been there created a municipal interest. The owners hired a private engineer who worked with the town’s engineer to reroute the drain through the property. The alignment of the gravity-fed drain had to work with the grade at the street, the grade at the ledge and the grade at the pond. The team tried to find the most efficient path to the pond while maintaining the needed slope, but they kept encountering more rock ledge in the way. It was an arduous, involved process, and they had to work quickly to minimize equipment rental fees to keep costs down.
The result of the team’s efforts was a new drain for Wellesley alongside a functional and attractive addition that will serve the homeowners for decades.
“The remodel is a prime example of how to create an addition with sensitivity to existing architecture,” Moffie says. “And the attention to detail and high level of finishes inside and out provided the owners with a showpiece home.”