After living several years in a house that had been altered and expanded numerous times before they purchased it, the owners of a 1930s-era Cape Cod in New Canaan, Conn., decided it was time to add curb appeal and visual unity while improving their home's functionality.
They were referred to Wilton, Conn.-based Titus Built LLC, a design/build company with 15 years' experience remodeling residences throughout south Fairfield County. Jeffrey Titus, CGR, LEED AP, the firm's founder and general manager, has strong ties to the area. "My great-grandparents moved to New Canaan from New York City in 1918, so I have five generations of family here," he explains.
It's no surprise, then, that Titus was intrigued by the multifaceted challenge of determining how to honor the home's classic character, achieve the owners' vision for a more sophisticated Craftsman-style exterior and still ensure the remodeled residence would fit in with its "village" location.
"We start every project by learning what's on the client's mind," Titus explains. "In this case, the home-owners had done a fair amount of research, so they brought ideas to our first meeting. We worked with them to finalize their wish list, then focused on devising a design that would achieve as much as possible within their budget. We also determined how the remodeling could be completed as a series of mini-projects over time or all at once. The clients trimmed a few items from their wish list and decided to proceed with a full exterior face-lift and some interior improvements."
We start every project by learning what’s on the client’s mind.”
— Jeffrey Titus, CGR, LEED AP, founder and general manager, Titus Built LLC
One of the homeowners' top priorities was to add more room on the second floor, so they and their three young sons could live more comfortably in the bedrooms located under the sloped roof.
"One son was getting a bunk bed," Titus explains. "Before the remodeling there would have only been about 1 1/2 feet of space between the top bunk and the ceiling."
Titus Built lifted the roof, extended the height of the second-story walls, and added the beams and columns necessary to fortify the structural system and transfer the loads down to the foundation. This increased the headroom and amount of usable space in the bedrooms. The substantial change in the roofline and façades also made working out the proportions of the new dormers, overhangs, porticos, brackets and other design details especially challenging.
"We wanted to preserve the integrity of the original home, which had simple forms and basic doghouse dormers, while upgrading its overall appearance," Titus says. To ensure authenticity, the team meticulously researched its designs for extra-large gable-end rafters (bargeboards), flower boxes, shutters, and more than 100 mahogany and cedar brackets before producing these architectural details in Titus Built's millwork shop. Because almost nothing was purchased off the shelf, accurate planning was critical for accomplishing this highly customized remodel on time and in budget.
"The clients were very thoughtful and involved throughout the process," Titus says. "We presented several versions of each custom detail before they selected the ones they liked best. Because the project primarily was an exterior remodel, we recommended wood that was insect and rot resistant. We also considered whether the wood would be painted or stained because the design called for both of these finishes. The graining is important for stained wood because it will show. We were able to obtain thick pieces of sapele [African mahogany] as raw lumber. That allowed us to make some of the larger brackets and bargeboards from this dense, durable and beautiful wood."
The substantial change in the roofline and façades made working out the proportions of the new dormers, overhangs, porticos, brackets and other design details especially challenging.
A custom-built covered front porch and hand-crafted overhangs add interest and articulation to the home's façades. Combined with a new cedar-shake roof; new double-paned, insulated windows; an improved gutter and drainage system; and repaired or replaced flashing, these aesthetic improvements ensure storm water flows off of and away from the home. Tightening the envelope also conserves energy.
A new, carriage-style door extends the upgraded style of the remodeled home to the detached garage. The brick chimney was replaced with a new one clad in river rock to match the stone of the second chimney. Electrical transmission lines were moved underground, making it easier to showcase the clients' selection of Craftsman-style exterior light fixtures.
The completed remodel respects the home's existing attributes and neighborhood setting while greatly enhancing its appearance and improving its functionality.
"We've received a lot of positive remarks from people passing by during construction or who have read about this project," Titus says. "The owners are thrilled with the results. I'm proud of the quality of the finished remodeling and very happy to receive the 2010 Master Design Award from Qualified Remodeler, which recognizes this."
Heather Beal writes about design and remodeling from Minneapolis.
2010 Master Design Awards Exterior Face-lift Gold Winner
- Design/Build Remodeler: Titus Built LLC, Wilton, Conn., www.titusbuilt.com
- Location: New Canaan, Conn.
- Project cost: $352,000
- Before: 3,375 square feet
- After: 3,476 square feet
- Scope of work: Complete exterior face-lift to upgrade aesthetics and unify original home with multiple additions. Tighten and alter envelope to improve the home's energy efficiency, water management and interior functionality.
- Timeline: Construction began in June of 2009 and was completed in May 2010.
Brick/Masonry Products: Connecticut Fieldstone, O&G Industries, www.ogind.com
Doors: Simpson Door Co., www.simpsondoor.com
Hardware: Baldwin Hardware Corp., www.baldwinhardware.com
HVAC Equipment: Lennox International Inc., www.lennoxinternational.com, and First Co. (forced air), www.firstco.com
Lighting Fixtures: Arroyo Craftsman, www.arroyo-craftsman.com
Paints/Stains: Benjamin Moore & Co., www.benjaminmoore.com
Windows: Marvin Windows and Doors, www.marvin.com