Victorian Surprise

This classic Victorian is filled with style and features worthy of preservation. But the kitchen and rear entry missed that attention. Here we sought to balance reverence with renewal.

A New Presence in Back

This stately Victorian home on Prospect Avenue is graced with a huge copper beech in the front yard and all the characteristics that define this beloved style. The front porch and stately front door were designed for a pedestrian lifestyle that we no longer live. Entering from the rear (as we now do by car) requires us to create worthy rear entries that were never considered when these homes were built. Here we replaced an awkward and unbecoming back porch with a deck, arced window wall, and sweeping roof overhangs that honor elements of Victorian style but with a contemporary sensibility.

Sheltered Entry Transition

We like to avoid long stairs and often use techniques like this, introducing intermediate landings and shifting materials to break down the climb up from the drive to the house. While our addition is narrower than the house, we let our roof fly out to its width to provide cover at the new side door. Notice the way in which the deck is dropped two steps to place the railing out of the view from the band of windows that overlook the backyard.

An Entry Corner

We took a corner of this new room to provide the amenities of a mudroom: a coat closet, a counter to drop the mail and the keys, retrieve messages, and leave a note on the bulletin board. We have maintained the ceiling height of the body of the house and employed the architectural vocabulary of the Victorian style, simple flat casings and a band that breaks the wall into base and upper segments accented by the choice of rich color. The western windows across the back of the space allow light to penetrate deep into the room.

An Inviting Place to Visit

This bowed window features a sweeping arced window seat adjoining a central seating area uninterrupted by the traffic flow from the entry and to the deck. The window seat easily accommodates a larger gathering while the seating and table are grouped for more intimate visiting. Speakers in the walls fill the space with music as the sun sets over the trees in Elizabeth Park.

Sitting Close By

The new sitting room is close by the kitchen and its island table. This is the kind of casual living we encourage. There is an easy flow between the spaces, but the architectural features drawn from Victorian precedents help to delineate the spaces. Within this framework there is plenty of room for the introduction of contemporary features that personalize the space.

Framing the Opening

We used classic posts and panels to frame the opening between the new space and the existing kitchen area (which we opened up by eliminating a pantry). Traffic thru the kitchen follows a path along the right side passing a peninsula table for social gathering, all leaving the cook uninterrupted in the working kitchen to the left, with the refrigerator easily accessed by everybody.

Expose the Brick

There’s something about the warmth and texture of exposed brick that always invites us to expose it when we can. The great neon “WINES” sign sets the tone for this fun kitchen gathering space. The adjacent bookcase grid cleverly surrounds the refrigerator. The raised section at the center of the island functions fully by shielding views of the sink and prep counters, offering handy storage for the table, and featuring a floating frosted glass top glowing from light concealed below.

Featured Range

We used tile and a graceful arced soffit to enhance the range and exhaust hood, always a natural focal point. The soffit contains soft uplighting and small recessed lights that highlight the cabinet faces while providing task lighting at the counter surface. The tiled backsplash is pushed forward enought to create a shelf for oils and seasonings that would otherwise clutter the countertop.

Lighting Mix

A combination of recessed, undercabinet, uplighting over the cabinets, and clean modern glass pendant lighting create a dramatic setting for the architectural cabinetry. The glass at the island is lit from beneath! The stock maple cabinets were given their crafted character by surrounding them with cherry features that curve, arc, and angle in various ways. We also chose pulls with an angle to them that were then placed assymetrically to create energy and rhythm.

Fitting the Microwave

The microwave became a design feature in this sculpted wall cabinet. A raised shelf adjacent to the range is a place to display oils and spices. Here is another view of the offset drawer handles. In keeping with the house’s Victorian character the ceiling is painted pressed tin. Notice the way in which, by narrowing the addition, we were able to place a window in the NW corner to maintain essential daylight and views in the space.

Sweeping Soffit

This sweeping cherry soffit links two banks of cabinets and provides a location for small halogen recessed light fixtures that highlight the faces of the cabinets. The upper panels of each door have a textured glass that adds texture and interest to this great look. The arced form is part of a coherent design language that is seen over and over, from the arced window bay in the addition to the curve of the table to the cabinet hardware.

Let there be Light!

The opening between these rooms allows late afternoon light to pour in. We love this!

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