Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Last Time 'Round

With renovation about to begin again upstate, I reflect on our last renovation project: our house in Islip. The house, the first home on the block, started as a two bedroom cottage built in 1925. From there it began to grow-- breakfast nook, family room, second story, decks.
When we bought it, the house was actually a "mother-daughter" with the upstairs and downstairs functioning as fully separate spaces. Once we stripped the plaster walls of calico wallpaper and repainted all the mouldings, our next step was to make the house unified, which turned the upstairs kitchen and living room into two more bedrooms, giving us a total of five. Bouler Design Group, however, still needed space, so a handful of years later, we completed an addition to serve as an office. The biggest trick was to make the house look as if it had always been there. We did this in a few ways. We used the same materials and style: cedar shingles, copper gutters, heavy trim. We also used a complex color scheme to integrate the addition with the existing house. But it was the rear elevation of the house which really pulled the project together. The complexity of the gables, the cloistered space of the meditation garden, the removal of a detached garage transformed the back of the house completely. The rear elevation shows that renovation can be done in a historically sensitive manner by retaining the charater of the home while offering additional space.
Completing a renovation while living in the space (and working in the space, as Bouler Design Group continuted to function during the process) can be tricky. Every day crews would traipse through the house, leaving us in different levels of disarray, which can be rather disconcerting to one's sense of well-being. Almost like childbirth, once the house is complete and functioning, you forget those labor pains and enjoy the end result, so much so that you'll even contemplate doing it again elsewhere.
Of course our goal for Potic Cottage is to create more space while maintaining the integrity and character of the original space. It's our next baby.

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