When homeowners Michael and Terri Rogers saw this low, long box of a house, they dubbed it “Motel California,” because it resembled those highway-side structures. Despite the moniker, the couple still purchased the property because they were drawn to the half-acre wooded lot. However, when they began planning their remodel, improving the “motel's” look by adding curb appeal was at the top of their list. Other items on that list included bringing in more light, creating a feeling of openness, providing casual entertaining areas, and establishing a better connection to the backyard and pool.

Peggy Fisher, design director and owner of design/build company the Fisher Group, Annandale, Va., fitted almost all that the couple wanted into the project. “We did not have to sacrifice much,” Michael Rogers says. Fisher adds that going through a nine-month design phase helped create the right balance of function, aesthetic, and budget. “They had a limited footprint,” she says, and “we wanted to give them the most circulation bang for the buck.”

Fisher added a second story and transformed the exterior of the 1960s ranch by using stucco to create a Tuscan/Southwestern look. To carry that style further, she chose to accent the new front porch with rugged beams. It also has three sets of French doors and is topped with a red metal roof. To accommodate the staircase on the left side of the facade, Fisher added a tower and balanced it with a dormer on the right side. She continued the Southwestern theme throughout the new open interior plan with rugged doors, rounded walls, and rustic ceiling beams.

Moving On Up At first the homeowners were not thinking of adding a second story, but as they were planning the interior changes, they decided that they wanted to gain space upstairs and that they would expand the original budget of $150,000. Those decisions also allowed for the dramatic exterior changes they wanted. Fisher says that, similar to many ranch house owners, the Rogers requested a more defined front entry. “And the original porch was so deep and covered that the front rooms were dark,” Michael Rogers adds.

When Fisher was designing the new roof, she made a point of creating a porch with a high ceiling. She added three French doors to flood the front rooms with light, and she designed a tower to add height to the facade. To ensure a cohesive look, “the placement of the windows in the tower had to match the placement of the rest of the windows in the house,” Fisher says.

The tower's roof, along with the rest of the second-story roof, was framed on site. Peggy and her husband Ken Fisher, the production manager, decided that this project was a good candidate for prefabrication. A framing subcontractor built the new roof sections on site. Then the Fishers hired a crane to lift the old roof off and put the new roof on — all in one day. “When I left on Thursday morning, I had a one-story house, and then I came home to a two-story house,” Michael Rogers says (see “Off Again, On Again” on page 66).

To complete the Tuscan/Southwestern look, Fisher chose stucco for the exterior. On the back of the house, she painted the original brick to blend with the stucco. Around the kitchen window, she left some of the original brick exposed for a rustic look.

Western Warmth Fisher made a few changes that improved the flow of the open floor plan. She moved the laundry from the side of the house that faces the pool to make room for a door and better access to the backyard for entertaining. The original entry to the house was in the middle of the front wall. By moving the entry to the right, she created larger and more open feeling rooms.

Fisher says that many of her clients want a dining room, but not a formal space isolated from the rest of the house. The Rogers decided to dispense with the dining room altogether and replace it with a pool room. Once the coat closet to the left of the entry was framed, Michael Rogers realized that he had given Fisher the wrong dimensions for the pool room, and it was too small to fit the pool table. Fisher reconfigured the entry by moving the closet to the back of the foyer. Despite the mix-up, Michael says he is happy with the change because the rear closet is larger than the one in the original design. After moving the stairs around in the design, Fisher finally found a place for them by creating the tower. To brighten the space, she accented it with a custom-made stained glass window.