Opening Up the Ranch

My favorite part is the view: you can now see through the house from the kitchen to the foyer, diagonally across the dining and living spaces

The Chapel Hill News just printed a nice piece by Sally Keeny about one of my renovations that wrapped up over the winter.  Of course the online version has only one tiny photo included – so it gives me the push to finally write it up here, as I’ve been intending for weeks now.

Not all of my projects fall under the ‘preservation’ heading, and sometimes the house in question isn’t quite 100 years old yet. Bill & Trish Hussey have been family friends since I was knee-high to a toadstool, so it felt especially significant to take on their master suite addition as 4/1’s first project.  Their brick, 1950s ranch had some nods to modernism in the living and dining rooms, but one foot back a few decades.  It worked fine as they raised their family, but with the kids mostly out on their own, they started to imagine updates that would suit their needs now and better prepare the house for a future family too.

The private, dark kitchen was entirely cut off from the public spaces and the cramped entryway was invisible from the driveway.  The main goals were to add a master suite on the first floor, create a gracious foyer, and allow the dining room to actually hold the Husseys’ many friends.  Starting with that brief, we ended up moving the laundry, refinishing the kitchen, updating some of the systems, adding a massive front porch, and giving a whole new axis to the house.

Once the space planning was done, I knew Trish could take the finishes and run with it – she’s always had a clear idea of how she wants things to look.  Never particularly partial to the ranch-ness of the house, Trish took it towards a more contemporary style throughout.  I’ll be happy to reuse some of her great ideas in a future project – like the wood inlay around the foyer floor.  It’s the perfect transition between the original, distinctive parquet flooring in the main house and the new wing.

It’s a real pleasure to see the house done, and even more to see the house in action.  Over the holidays they threw their annual party, and the new elbow room worked beautifully throughout the evening.  It feels a little like the house has always been this way – exactly what I was aiming for.

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