Before & After: Forward Thinking

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Updating the fa¡ade and reconfiguring the floor plan to comfortably accommodate the lifestyle of a large family.

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In love with their neighborhood, but finding their home didn’t meet family needs, the couple who own this 1950s home began working on a design with architect Annie Schwemmer, principal at Renovation Design Group, in Salt Lake City.

One of the main drivers for the project was the need to address the home’s main level, which was very cut up and lacked space for the family to gather, says remodeler Jeremy Jackson, a partner at Jackson & LeRoy Remodeling, in Salt Lake City.

The family, which has seven children, had lived in the house for 20 years. Though the home had been remodeled during the 1980s — half of the two-car garage was converted into a mudroom and storage area and a family room was added to the home’s rear — this didn’t provide the livable space the current homeowners needed. The family room — the largest room in the home — “was totally separate from the rest of the house,” Schwemmer says.

The home’s generous setback from the street provided the opportunity to push out the front and gain some space. A 15-foot addition allowed the homeowners to accomplish two of their key goals: to create a great room at the back of the house that’s open to the kitchen and dining area, and to upgrade the home’s nondescript façade. “They wanted something with character,” Schwemmer says. And she set about providing that.

A Welcome Home

The new façade reflects a modern version of the Cape Cod style that the wife had long admired, and it provided an opportunity to fulfill another of the client’s wants: a deep front porch.

Jackson says that the team considered using fiber-cement siding, but the wife thought real cedar better reflected the Cape Cod style and was willing to accept the required maintenance.

The cedar siding and aluminum-clad Pella ProLine windows are outlined with cedar trim. Jackson used composite MiraTEC fascia along the roofline. The house also has corbels, trellises, cedar rafter tails, and 4-inch-square timber columns wrapped with Fypon.

It took a while for Jackson and the homeowners to find the perfect stone for the base of the front porch and to create a proportional design for the porch rails that wouldn’t make the porch feel too closed-in.

A new shed addition brings the garages forward, and the main house addition includes a higher roofline. “One of the bonuses, literally, when we moved the house forward, was that the new roof was taller, so we ended up with a bonus room above the new space in the attic that turned out to be a really nice space with a great view,” Schwemmer says.

To balance the taller roofline, Schwemmer added a large horizontal dormer that also admits natural light to the bonus room.

All Together Now

The main floor was the area that needed the most alteration to fit the family’s lifestyle, so Schwemmer completely reconfigured it, doubling the size of the kitchen and opening it up to the dining room and living room. “The [family] loves to entertain,” Schwemmer says. “They regularly have 30 to 50 people over and were really excited about the opportunity to have nice, open space.”

She flipped the location of the original kitchen and dining room, so the dining room is open to the kitchen on one side and the family room on the other. The wife loves to garden and wanted to maintain sightlines to the backyard. The architect actually enhanced the view by tripling the linear square footage of windows. And a 6-foot-wide set of glass French doors in the dining room replaces two separate 3-foot-wide doors in the original family and dining rooms, providing a better connection to the garden.

Schwemmer also connected the garage to the family area with a more central mudroom, replacing the original mudroom, which had been located in a garage bay.

Across from the living room is an office. It’s part of the master suite but is separated from it by a wall of cabinetry and a set of French doors.

Setback Strategy

The front addition “is not something that everyone can do,” says architect Annie Schwemmer, but the location of the house on the property allowed for the addition of space on the front while maintaining the required 30-foot front-yard setback.

However, Schwemmer did face challenges with the side-yard setback. A newly revised ordinance requires homes to have a combined side-yard setback of 25% of the lot width. The proposed setback with the office addition was 20.8%. The planning department recommended applying to the local planning commission for a special exception, which the commission denied.

During the review process, the commission said it needed more proof that the exception the owners had requested was consistent with other homes in the neighborhood.

Drafters from the architect’s office measured the side-yard setbacks of 30 homes within a 400-foot radius of the clients’ home. The measurements showed that the average setback was closer to 20% than 25% of the lot size.

Since the ordinance was so recent, the planning department recommended that Schwemmer and the homeowners take that information to the county’s board of adjustments, where it was approved. Resolving this issue cost the homeowners $1,000. 

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.

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