A Lot with a Little

A porch, a patio, and all of 150SF of new space completely transformed the life of this home. Featured in the CPTV special “CT’s Energy Future” this home shows how to work with what you have.

Boring Back Syndrome

We see this over and over. Most homes were built for “curb appeal”; they’re products on display to appeal from the street. When you get around to the back you often find an imposing flat wall without much thought given to the house’s relationship to the yard or the creation of any features that make that connection – either from the site landscaping or the house’s architecture. We set out to change that whenever we can.

 Sheltering Roof and Porch Connect

With a set of rather simple gestures – a long covered deck that traverses the house connecting to a charming screened porch, a few modest bumpouts nestling the patio door, and a broad stone patio surrounded by a garden and pond – what had been an uninspired facade becomes delightful. Notice the change to a shingled siding beneath the new roof while the old vinyl siding is left in place above; you never even notice that we left it be because the level that is lived on is what you notice and actually see. It works!

An Inviting Approach

This long deck connects every feature of the newly defined rear facade of the house, drawing the inside out and the outside in. Since this is the entry that is intended to welcome family and friends, an inviting bench and adjacent raised landing make it clear that this is the way inside. At the same time, the sequence of arc fronted posts draw the eye to the destination that awaits – a screen porch with a distinctive railed enclosure.

Drawn to the Door

How do you lead people to the place you’ve created to meet and greet and invite them inside? On paper that would be the front door, but when the driveway delivers everyone to the side of the house friends and family need to instinctively be drawn to the place you expect to meet them – the only use for the front door these days is Halloween!  Down this porch the arced posts create a pleasing rhythm. Notice this feature: a rain chain leading to a pool of rocks at the corner by the planter.

Creating the Flow

As we back away you begin to see what we are talking about. We’re at the end of the drive, a space folks naturally pull into to park out of the way of the garage that is just out of sight to the left. Our roof and the emergent end of the porch, along with the loose stone walk and planters, make it apparent that a visitor is welcome to make their way toward and along this sheltering entryway. Rounding the corner the majestic yard and garden come into view, while down the length of the deck the screen porch beckons. Quite a difference from the barren back we began with.

Organizing the Family

Just inside the back entry is this paragon of family organization. This is what every home needs, a space for everyone to drop things on the way in or grab them on the way out – before they make their way to the nearest countertop in the kitchen or draped over a chair in the dining room. There is a space for coats and backpacks, hockey sticks and baseball gloves, a wire drawer for wet gloves and mittens to dry, and space to sit to change boots and store them beneath. Add to this niches for mail and family documents to be sorted and you can see how valuably this cubby wall serves everybody.

A Kitchen that Connects

This kitchen connects. It serves the dining room beyond it. It invites folks to visit without interfering with the activities of meal preparation. There are ample areas for storage, prep, cooking, and cleanup that allow each function to flow easily. The inviting and informal family eating area is steps away, but visually shielded from the clutter of cooking. And its a kitchen that is truly the hub of family life, in the center of everything without losing its cool – architecturally warm and visually enticing, looking good with the lights up or down or awash in bountiful daylight.

Light, Views, and Transparency

This south facing wall invites the light in and your attention out. The long porch roof outside shades the interior from harsh glare and summer overheating and the door invites you to consider the space outside as just another room in the house. This is a quality we call transparency – easy movement from inside to out. Like the long porch outside, the space inside is the internal pathway starting from the mudroom, passing the kitchen and eating bumpout, moving on to the living room (that is actually lived in) and on past a window seat and out to the screen porch by way of the door that opens directly to the patio and yard. All this and views to the wonderful gardens and back fields no matter where you are in the space.

Window Seat and AV Center

This ever so slight bumpout (the baseboard heat shows where the wall had been) creates a place to curl up with the cat, a book, or a buddy (or all three) and hover at the edge of activity. Set into this cabinet is the TV, the cabinet swiveling into the room and the doors retracting to provide access to AV equipment, with CD’s close at hand.

Porch Life

Here’s that destination at the end of the sheltering rear walkway that links all the elements that transformed this house. The screen porch overlooks the yard and is steps from both the house and the patio, allowing the easy flow from inside to out that make a space like this literally another room in the house. Sheltered from the sun and cooled by the air that moves thru all four sides of the porch this refuge is the place to linger into the evening around a seasonal dining table or in these casual wicker chairs while listening to the water flowing into the pond in the garden below.

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