Bethesda Architects & Remodelers Turn a House Into a Home
“A Sympathetic Addition With Panache” – From House to Home Chapter One, Part Three
On to the Breakfast Room
Although most of the kitchen design was coming together (discussed in our last post!), there was still a major decision to make: how to include an informal family eating area, the breakfast room that the owners had envisioned all along. A member of my design team suggested setting aside part of the family room for the purpose – a practical, relatively low-cost solution. Other alternatives envisioned an addition to the house. Ever methodical, my clients used masking tape to mark out such a breakfast area and lived with it for a few days. The verdict was then clear: a breakfast area didn’t fit well inside the house; it blocked the flow between the family room and the kitchen. An addition, they decided, was worth pursuing.
As I mentioned earlier, we designed the breakfast room addition with walls of glass, in keeping with the contemporary style. The outward-oriented butterfly roof, a variation on the modernist shed style, maximized the height of the walls for better views of the woods in the backyard. Within the room, my clients preferred a design with a custom, child-friendly banquette, upholstered with stain- and water-resistant fabric. My interior designer and staff carpenters also created the breakfast table, equipping it with a durable top and legs tucked out of the way.
A Family at Home
Unlike many owners who choose between remodeling or moving, this couple made a bold decision to do both – moving within their neighborhood and still pursuing such a significant remodel. And they did so, as I mentioned earlier, during the wife’s second pregnancy. Just after our project came to an end, the baby arrived as well – and in dramatic fashion.
While visiting at home with a friend, the wife went into labor in the newly renovated dining room. Her husband, the dentist, came home just in time to deliver their daughter, with an emergency operator on the phone and an ambulance on the way. Decades ago, the popular American poet Edgar Guest wrote, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,” but some events speed up that process. As the birthplace of their second child, this remodeled house definitely became a home.
Today, the father says that their family spends 90 percent of its time in the newly linked rooms, where the open space itself remains his favorite part of the project. The breakfast room is where the parents and children enjoy their meals every day. The two children also do projects there, piling into the banquette with friends to enjoy a game or a snack. The dining room, still the point of access to the entire wing, is used for entertaining, holidays and special occasions. The open plan easily accommodates a second dining room table when needed and draws guests into the other spaces.
An enthusiastic cook, the father appreciates the new kitchen, as well as its connections to the other rooms. Working at the new, large island, he can hold a conversation with someone in the family room, dining room or breakfast room – a far cry, he says, from standing at a counter in the old kitchen and staring at a wall. He is also delighted by his new, high-end gas range.
For all its value as a cozy, family eating spot, the breakfast room remains the visual standout of the project. The natural light bathes the space and creates a very cheerful look, while the outdoor scene changes with the seasons. The net effect, he says, is that “you feel like you’re outdoors, when you’re indoors.”
To learn more and see a “before and after” floor plan, read chapter one of our online remodeling book, From House to Home.
Be sure to check back soon – chapter two, part one is coming next!