New two-over-two windows throughout brighten the entry, as do the custom transom and sidelights that surround the front door, which moved to expand the living room. | Laura Metzler
A minimalist approach to renovating a 1925 house maximizes the available light, allowing original features, including Craftsman-style millwork, to shine.
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 Issue of This Old House Magazine. Click here to learn how to subscribe.
Often the best way to honor an old house is simply to highlight its good bones. That principle guided the renovation of this 1925 house, where prized original features remained in place. “It felt like an old-soul house with lots of potential, and I had always wanted a renovation project,” says Scott Moren about why he purchased the place, located in Washington, D.C.
Courtesy HomesiteBEFORE: An elaborately patterned wallpaper above the stained chair rail gave the dining room a Victorian-era feel.So, after living in the house for eight months and hiring an architect for initial plans and permits, Scott teamed up with designer Evelyn Pierce Smith for the remodel. Her overall approach: Keep the period charm and chestnut woodwork, brighten up with new windows, rework previous rear additions, and better utilize the space. Enlarging the kitchen allowed for the pro-grade appliances Scott wanted, as well as a bright breakfast nook.
Laura MetzlerThe former screened-in porch was rebuilt as a sunroom and the step-down eliminated; cantilevering the back wall over the foundation gained 2 feet. Tall windows, patio doors to the backyard, and white-painted casings brighten the space.Turning a screened porch into a four-season sunroom yielded a favorite hangout for him and his yellow Lab, Grayson. But when company comes over, it’s the living room that beckons.
Stacy Zarin GoldbergThe homeowner scrubbed the limestone fireplace of surface grime with dish soap and water. Tall, narrow double-hungs replaced the smaller original windows.“The first things that drew me to the house were the woodwork and the fireplace,” says Scott. “It’s nice to have friends over and sit around the fire. It’s now an easy house for people to gather in.”
Ian WorpoleMoving the front door, swapping radiators for forced-air heat, making the kitchen bigger, and rebuilding rear additions updated the layout.
Moved the front door toward the stairs to enlarge the living room; shifted two windows.Removed steps and a doorway leading into the kitchen to gain a usable range wall.Swapped two small closets and a shallow pantry for side-by-side pantry and coat closets.Demoed the old sink wall to annex the former family room, enlarging the kitchen and creating a breakfast nook in a new window bay.Closed up a window in the powder room and relocated the toilet.Made the doorway between the dining room and sunroom wider and a foot taller, at 8 feet; added French doors to invite in more natural light.Rebuilt the screened porch as a sunroom, cantilevering the back wall over the foundation to gain 2 feet; added patio doors leading to new back stairs.
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