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A "Before & After" Project by Hamlin Goldreyer Architects
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I'ts a Wrap: If we were in the film industry, it would mean we’re finished shooting. If we were in the food industry, it would mean we’re serving Mexican. Since we’re in the home design industry, it means we have taken an existing house and doubled its size by wrapping the perimeter with all the new elements requested by the home owner. This project started with a 1920’s house which lacked the exterior charm of most old houses. So we wrapped it - like wrapping a lady of the previous century with an elegant silk shawl.

We did not know, at first, that we were going to do a “wrap”. When we were first approached by the Scarsdale homeowners, we were told they had already been involved with an architect but not satisfied with the results. Some architects might have been tempted to say to themselves “that’s a wrap” and try to get out of the situation as fast as possible. Instead, my very talented design partner, Deborah Goldreyer, went to work. Every project is its own puzzle. From the very beginning, we knew this was going to be complicated.

The wrap emerged slowly. Our schematic design phase usually includes lots of different ways to look at the project. We juggle the project pieces, trying all kinds of combinations. Some we throw out quickly and others are kept as strong possibilities. Every project is unique and this one had some real challenges.

The existing first floor of the house had a beautifully detailed entry hall, lovely living room and delightful dining room. The flow of the core of this original center hall home worked well. The later additions did not work well at all. A small den with an awkwardly located powder room was too small for anything but a single desk and one small couch. The kitchen was claustrophobic because the laundry/pantry addition completely blocked the view of the rear yard from the kitchen/breakfast area. A tiny family room off the kitchen was barely adequate and accessible only through the kitchen (see Existing Floor Plan).

The homeowners wanted to update their house with a new, more formal, entertainment room, an attached garage, laundry room, mudroom, front porch and rear deck. On the second floor, they wanted a new bedroom suite so each daughter could have their own bathroom and dressing areas. On the rest of the property, they wanted a large deck, new pool and eventually convert their detached garage into a cabana.

Site restrictions complicated the puzzle. The very large front yard had a utility easement crossing only 18 feet in front of the house thus eliminating the front for any major expansion. Since this was a corner lot, the side yard faced a street and therefore had a large setback requirement, leaving only 11 feet of building area in that direction. Also, the only viable location for the pool was at their current driveway, which would require relocating the driveway and building a new garage (see Existing Site Plan).

Existing house conditions kept the puzzle interesting, too. The very narrow rooms at the first and second floor to the left of the main gable were too small. Also, a previous, two story addition off the kitchen was so badly constructed that we had no choice but to tear it down. Luckily, the core of the house had good bones. We looked to the core, and the client requirements, to try and create the ideal solution.

Program logic called for the new mudroom/laundry/garage areas to be near the kitchen. The new deck should be off the kitchen/breakfast area and overlooking the rear yard and pool. The new porch should be in front overlooking the large front yard and creating a more dignified entry. The family room needs to be off the entry hall because they wanted their friends to come into the room without going through the rest of the house. As we started laying this out, the project slowly sorted itself out into its current layout (see New First Floor Plan).

We worked on the facades at the same time as the plans. We always want our projects to function really well with great flow and spatial relationships. We also want our houses to look great. The existing, large front gable and the large roof soffits suggested a strong 3-dimensional character. Unfortunately, several additions over the years failed to pick up on this character. We realized that doubling the size of the house gave us the chance to give the house a stylistic make-over.

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