Vollertsen Architecture
340 Main Street Unit 203
Melrose, MA 02176

An addition to and renovation of a home on a 2 acre site for a couple wanting to enhance their self described 'hodgepodge' of a house.

The client's program was simply: for her "a large gourmet kitchen with links to a living area with lots of light" and for him "a large fireplace to lean up against (at parties) with a drink in hand".

Existing Conditions

The large single-family home was comprised of three disparate styles and volumes, the result of multiple renovations. The interior lacked consistent detailing and a clear aesthetic. The site has a large backyard on the north side of the house bordering on 100 acres of conservation land. The grade change from the proposed new addition to the back yard was significant.

Design Objectives

• The 'hodgepodge' aspect of existing house allowed for the addition of varied volumes. The design is contemporary in its planning, volumes and massing, taking its cue from the spatial arrangement of the program and the desired spatial qualities of the interior. The design maintains the existing exterior siding style and color throughout to create a unified character to the home's exterior.

• To relate the house better to its garden setting, the design links the floor level of the house to grade level of the backyard through stone planters, a retaining wall and stair. The stone planter design satisfies code requirements yet avoids guardrails, enhancing views from the interior. The retaining wall and planter is integrated with the landscaping and ties the house more directly to the back yard and site.

• The interior was designed for open day lit spaces utilizing vertical windows in the living room and kitchen that maximize natural lighting and open up views to the landscape. Concealed cove lighting for ambient ceiling light compliments natural lighting.

• The kitchen volume, though located on the north side of the house, was oriented to accommodate clear story windows that allow light from the south to filter into the kitchen. The window overhang shields direct summer sun but allows direct winter sun.

• The large kitchen is functional and practical. Three working triangle were created for cooking, cleaning and baking.

• Room sizes and ceiling heights appropriately respond to room function. A datum line in the addition is a reference to and link with the original house.