More framing occurred on the second floor; namely, the entire existing roof was removed for several reasons. First, the old roof pitch was a “builders 3 on 12,” says Gaiser, indicating the slope was very flat and thus contributed to the plain-Jane look of the home from the street. The new roof was constructed with a steeper pitch to allow for a more prominent and traditional looking residential form from the street. Namely there were two new gables anchoring both sides of the house.
“There was not a whole lot of attention given to scale and size of the roofline as originally executed,” says Gaiser. “When you look at the house from the street, you can see that it is kind of in a gully. Before, you would barely notice the house; now you notice it.”
Additionally, the new roofing frame above the low slung, central portion of the house was widened to allow for a new covered area over the front of the house. This created a new front porch supported by classically styled columns.
Much of the new space on the second floor was created via this roof change; specifically, Gaiser added four classic dormers in front and a large shed dormer on the rear side. The four dormers facing the street — spaced equally between the more prominent gable on the existing section of the house and the brand-new, almost matching gable on the other end — were key to helping the home achieve an utterly new personality from the street.
“The house is now kind of anchored at both sides really,” says Gaiser referring to the new garage and second-story family room at the opposite end of the home. “So instead of having this large gable on the left and have it trailing off to the right, we put a little exclamation point on the right-hand side.”
The dot on the end of that exclamation point is a purely decorative cupola, which subtly adds to the classic American style of the home.
The garage portion of the project offered the one, major, unanticipated challenge. The design for the garage encroached about 18 in. over the allowable side-yard setback. With no variances in the offing, Gaiser found a way to keep the structure substantially intact by simply reducing the amount of covered space at the offending side of the garage. To make the building conform to the required setback for covered space, he created an 18-in. deep porch with columns. And, in the end, it looks as though it was meant to be there all along, says Gaiser. “It is a place where pots and other gardening accessories can be stored on shelves.”
An uncompromised interior
Gaiser’s wide open interior spaces, though airy and filled with light, are anchored by strong and uncompromised detail work. All of the windows and doors are high quality. And all of the moldings and casements were large, strong and well proportioned to suit the bigger expanses. “In the wrong hands you can cheapen a project just by skimping on the molding,” Gaiser explains. “We erred on the side of being more substantial just to give it a more uncompromised look.”
These details in fact were critically important aids in creating a number of spaces without actually constructing walls. A coffered ceiling above the open family room denotes it as a distinct space, set aside from the kitchen and den. A breezeway that runs from the front of the house to the back between the kitchen and the garage is denoted by a doorway at the front of the house and a large and distinctive oval window at the back of the house, directly opposite the breezeway door. With minimal use of walls, an axial space is thus created, drawing a person back to the mudroom between the garage and kitchen.
Relocating the formal entry from a “left-justified” position to the center of the house, directly beneath the new front dormers, gave Gaiser the opportunity to design an oval entry hall that leads through the center into the kitchen and less formal living spaces.
“If you look at the main living areas,” explains Gaiser, “we define the spaces partly by using decorative beams that define living areas and walkways down to the family room.”
In the end, the clients took a home with four small bedrooms, and created a house with five bedrooms, an office, and a main level that can easily entertain 150 people. But is it too big for a family of four? Gaiser says no. “They use every inch of it.”