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Staying Put in Style: Wrap-Around Remodel
by Duo Dickinson
An 18th-century Federal farmhouse had multiple lean-to additions tacked onto it over its first 200 years. These served not so much to reach out to the landscape but to separate those within the house from it.
In addition, plantings that were once under control began to consume not only the home's walls but also any potential for a view from the windows that actually caught a glimpse of a backyard pond.
The new owners removed all of the overgrown foliage and built a carefully crafted deck that celebrated its supports — rather than having apologetic pipes or spindly four-by-four-inch (10-by-10-centimeter) pressure-treated posts.
Stainless-steel cable rails provide a code-compliant barrier without blocking the view, and mahogany rails afford a nice location to rest an afternoon cocktail.
By using the existing stone steps that accessed the back door of the house and extending that line to create a simple L deck, the original flow of the house is maintained and a reasonable area for a table is created without visually separating the inside from the outside.
There are over 80 million single family homes in America, and it's estimated that in 2011, 18 million of these were underwater, meaning with a mortgage larger than the value of the house.
Millions of families feel trapped, living a life of domestic frustration in homes that do not work for them, while being unable to move to solve the problems they confront on a daily basis.
The benefits of concise, appropriate remodeling where you live now, independent of market conditions, can include improved convenience and lifestyle satisfaction, better looks, and a reduced environment impact, since improving an existing house is almost always greener than building new from scratch.
This series in ArchitectureWeek, and the book Staying Put that it's drawn from, offer tangible hope for getting the home you want from the house you have right now.
Each of these projects is a select example of the great and affordable outcomes that can be created, when a good architect and a good client team up together.
Architect Duo Dickinson runs his own practice in Madison, Connecticut. In over 30 years of professional practice, he has built more than 600 projects across the United States, with budgets ranging from $3,000 to $5 million. Dickinson has written seven books, including The Small House, Expressive Details, and The House You Build. He is a contributing writer for Money magazine, the architecture critic for the New Haven Register, and a contributing writer for New Haven magazine. He has also taught at Yale University, Roger Williams College, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design summer program.