“Minimalism is easy to do, but difficult to do well, especially while trying to balance both the Eastern and Western approaches,” wrote Peter Feinmann, owner of design/build company Feinmann Inc., in his awards application. The judges felt Feinmann architect Barney Maier had managed to pull it off with this “phenomenal” conversion.

The client, a Harvard professor of Japanese sociology, wanted a multipurpose addition — a beautiful entryway, a functional and spacious home office, and a serene sitting area. Once the client mentioned she'd always wanted a Japanese “scholar's study,” a contemplative workspace enclosed by shoji screens, the design team had its hook.

The 1950s-era “deck house” style already had modern appeal, and Feinmann continued the home's post-and-beam construction. The judges felt the designers did a good job creating a relationship between the two styles and blending the old with the new “tweaked modern.” The design element that brought it all together is the Kalwall translucent wall in the main hallway.

Rather than position the addition along the side or back of the house, the designers attached an “L” to the front. The home is dramatically changed yet still fits the surrounding neighborhood.

Category: Additions, $100,000–$250,000

Location: Lexington, Mass.

Contractor: Feinmann Inc., Arlington, Mass.

Designer: Barney Maier, Feinmann Inc.