Sometimes hanging around on the Courthouse steps pays off - the owners of this 2.5 acre mid Carmel Valley property obtained it in a foreclosure sale and immediately set out to repair, rebuild, and restore the property to a condition befitting its location and panoramic views of the valley. The goal was to work within the existing structure as much as possible, alter the finish style to reflect the tastes of the new owners, detail the interior layout (it was pretty much gutted), and get the owners into their new home at a fraction of what such a property would normally cost. The preliminary rendering below shows the proposed finished state, with one of my initial site visit photos as the alternate image. This house is also featured on the Virtual Reality page.
The goal here was to pull the front of the house out, creating a great room with cathedral ceilings, a new garage beneath a front deck, and an interior redesign more in keeping with the owner's empty nest lifestyle. As is so often the case, the stairway design became the linchpin for getting things to work. We dropped both the upper and lower floor levels toward the back of the house, to facilitate a shorter and less intrusive stairway. This also created something of a platform effect in the new master suite, creating a bit of separation between the sleeping area and the closet and master bath. See the Virtual Reality and Rendering page for additional higher quality images of this house (construction pending).
My design philosophy is pretty simple: There's no point in me designing your addition or remodel to suite my own preferences, unless I'm planning on buying your house from you. Design work is done to suite your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences, not my portfolio. Also, there's no project so small that it doesn't warrant some discussion and study, even if the point is only to reinforce your original sense of direction.
If any property owner is looking to throw and unlimited amount of money at a project, and wants somebody to generate a great architectural work of art that they can lay claim to (would your name happen to be De Medici?), there are a large number of under employed Architects in the area. I'd be happy to refer you to any one of several I know and respect.
As a residential planner/designer, I exist primarily to facilitate the wishes of my clients. The vast majority of whom have a pretty well developed sense of their own style, definite objectives in mind for their project, and a budget. What my clients most often want is someone to:
1) Help them collect and organize their wish list items
2) Bounce some ideas and observations off (there is a lot of logic to why things are the way they are, but it's not always apparent and warrants some discussion)
3) Guide them through the planning and permitting process and make them feel as though they've hired a local trail guide who'll stand by them as much as needed.
If there's one thing I really like to stress with my clientele, it's that having the Designer, Engineer, and Contractor all on board before you begin is a huge benefit. This is your team - and they need to work together. I know a lot about residential framing (just enough to know when I need to call the Engineer to make sure I'm not creating a problem). I know a fair amount about construction (just enough to know that the workers on the job will be cursing me left and right no matter what I do, but I really want to minimize that). I know that in some cases, without the other players I may as well be trying to play volleyball by myself (side out. . .)
The original structure had its side entry stairs and walkway under the eave of the house, rendering it unsafe during the winter months. Snow would shed off the metal roof in huge sheets causing damage to the side decks which had to be repaired every spring. The alternate stairway up the front of the house effectively cut the main deck down into something less than usable. Tired of the major spring repairs every year, the owner opted for a new front deck, new entry stair up the side of the house, and a simple roof extension over the stairs. While doing this, she dramatically altered the curb appeal of the home with new trim and siding. A quick, relatively simple job that significantly increased the value of the home.
When the owners of this 50's vintage salt box cabin called, they'd just suffered some interior damage due to a freezing water pipe. While they were talking about replacing their floors, they decided it was time to address some of their other issues with the cabin: A stair that was little more than a ladder and downright frightening to descend; two cracker box bedrooms in the upper level neither of which were very comfortable; and a lower level floor plan that made a small house feel even smaller. Both owners had a very well developed sense of space and knew exactly what they wanted, as well as what would fit within the original building envelope (with a little upward expansion). The end result is a dramatic transformation. The home now features a new and safe stairway to a generous Master Suite upstairs with a full bath; a completely open floor plan downstairs with a remodeled full bath and kitchen. The owner's sense of style, material and finish choices also helped to transform this from a classic Tahoe relic into a classic Tahoe cabin.
This was a classic example of two things - letting the owner direct the design phase as much as possible, and standing by their side sandwiched between a rock and a hard place (or more appropriately bedrock and two trees). Originally, we planned and designed a garage to go under the existing home. When our Geotech hit bedrock less than half the distance we needed to excavate, the construction cost estimates quickly spiraled out of sight. Regrouping, the owners laid out there minimum requirements, which included a two bay garage with one bay big enough to fit their boat and the other their truck, a new master suite above, structural retrofit to the front of the existing house (it was sagging pretty badly), a small cover over the front door to eliminate the danger of avalanche when entering or exiting, a new front deck, some interior remodeling to suite their very large extended family, all styled to match or be consistent with the original house, and last but not least - don't you dare hurt either of those two big pine trees! We probably went through 8 different design iterations until both the clients, and the trees were happy. No trees were harmed, no bed rock blasted, and pretty much all of their wishlist items checked off.
Copyright 2010 K B Anderson
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Residential Building Design