Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Life For a Century Old Farmhouse

The Perfect Southern Farmhouse
I recently wrapped up plans to ready a picturesque farmhouse, built in 1912, for it's next 100 years. Built by the owner's great grandparents and lived in by the family since, the large (over 3000 square foot) house originally had no indoor plumbing or electricity. While loaded with charm, the heirloom house was short on modern conveniences. A small basic bathroom was added in the 1960's, but it was located on the first floor, which meant none of the upstairs bedrooms had convenient access. The kitchen, though large, was not functional and very dated. The house, true to it's age, had almost no closet space, no insulation, and no central heat or air. While the current owners wanted to keep the house in the family, it was hardly a place to raise a young child and the baby on the way. They had contemplated tackling the project a bit at a time, but soon realized that it made more sense to just do the work all at once. The house needed a proper kitchen, a master suite, second floor bathrooms, and general updating of the mechanicals, as well as tackling some deferred maintenance.
So let's take a look at the "befores!"

The only bathroom was small, dated, and frankly, a bit scary. 

Though twenty feet in length, the kitchen had only a few cabinets confined to one corner. The tattered vinyl floor, ancient appliances, and damaged walls hardly made it a place for family meals.
Horrible as the bath and kitchen were, the rest of the house was brimming with charm. The foyer and stair hall are to die for. The original plank walls throughout the house add such warmth and character.
One of the house's SIX original fireplaces. 
The original floor plan showing the single first floor bathroom and general lack of closets.
The existing rear of the house. By raising the original one-story areas at the rear up to two story height, we were able to capture the space necessary to ready the house for it's next 100 years.
The renovated main level plan.

The owners wanted to make certain that the house did not change at all from the front. Fortunately, the existing first floor was large enough that no expansion (aside from a small covered rear porch) on that level was necessary. We widened the openings to the kitchen, removed some of the original doors (saving them, of course, to be reused in our second floor addition), reworked the kitchen/mudroom/and bath area to include a gourmet kitchen with farm table style island, a six foot bank of refrigerator and freezer towers, and plenty of cabinet space. Built ins at the back door (where the family will enter most often) catch clutter before it makes its way into the house, a small closet is outfitted with a stack washer and dryer, and the existing bath is gutted, renovated, and it's access is moved to the mudroom to hide the view of it from the front door.

The biggest changes happen upstairs. By adding a second floor over the original kitchen, study, and mudroom, we were able to give the family two new bathrooms--a large compartmented bath for the secondary bedrooms to share, and an enormous spa-like master bath with freestanding tub, walk-in shower, and double vanities. The new master suite is rounded out with a room-sized walk-in closet that offers convenient access to the new second floor laundry room. While we were able to give one of the secondary bedrooms a new walk-in closet, we opted to leave the other two in their original state, and take care of clothes storage in those spaces "the old fashioned way" with armoires and dressers. 
Construction on the project just started this month! Follow us on Facebook to see the progress!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Pre-Designed Plan: The Foxchase

This 7,000 square foot manor house began as a quick design study for a couple who wanted very different "looks" for a new house. One wanted a graceful Georgian--symmetrical and stately. The other wanted a Charleston single house. So what better way to accommodate their wishes than to give them both? Designed for a corner lot, a graceful formal facade faces one street, while an inviting Charleston piazza faces the other.

The formal facade of the house features copper collector heads, and cast stone accents at the watertable, window surrounds, and entrance portico.

The facade facing the other street is pure Charleston style. A leaded glass entrance opens to a double piazza that overlooks the courtyard.
 The floor plan of the house is designed for entertaining on a large scale. The two entrances of the house converge in the center of the plan where a reception sized foyer and light filled round stair hall present a grand sense of arrival. Graciously scaled rooms round out the plan--a paneled library, banquet sized dining room, and beautiful living room occupy the front of the house, while more casual living areas, and the chef's kitchen fill another wing that wraps around the courtyard.

A vaulted family room has one of two fireplaces on this level. A sweeping staircase set into a half round wall of glass makes a memorable statement. Other features include built-ins, thick arches, and a flowing floor plan perfect for entertaining
Upstairs, three bedroom suites occupy the front portion of the house. A large master suite includes another fireplace, oversized bath, large dressing room, and a convenient coffee bar. This room accesses the second floor piazza and enjoys a view of the courtyard. Two other large bedrooms also include private baths and walk-in closets. Walk-up attic space on the third floor is accessed by another staircase off the hallway. Over the garage, a flexible suite of rooms features over 1,100 square feet of space. Perfect for media, games, and craft space, or as a self-contained apartment for staff, in-laws, or long term guests, the space is accessed via the back staircase near the family room.

The primary bedroom suites all feature walk-in showers, ample closet space, and generous proportions. The suite over the four car garage offers flexibility for various life stages.

If you're interested in more information on the Foxchase, please email us at, and be sure to like our Facebook page to see more of our designs.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

On The Boards: A Narrow Lot Craftsman

I recently finished a design for good friends of mine. They have a narrow lot with alley access in Greenville, South Carolina's hot West End neighborhood.

The exterior is a true Craftsman rafter tails, numerous bracket details, and tapered porch columns give it great curb appeal.

Bahama shutters on the left disguise the asymmetrical windows behind them.
While the house is relatively small, just over 2,300 square feet, it lives much bigger than that. The main floor houses the master suite, with dual walk-in closets, and a very open living/dining/kitchen area that overlooks the back yard and adjoins a vaulted screened porch.

The main level floor plan. The layout creates a private back yard, and the extra-deep garage provides storage for sporting equipment.

Upstairs, an office is located at the front of the house (could be called on to serve as a fourth bedroom if needed), and it shares a full bath with one of the secondary bedrooms. The rear bedroom has a private bath and walk-in closet...effectively giving the house two master suites.

The second master suite would be perfect for long-term guests.
We look forward to sharing construction photos with you as the house goes up, so check us out on Facebook!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On The Boards: The Altamont

Here's a new design we're working on: The Altamont. Designed for a lot with a view and a relatively shallow building footprint, it's a plan that is great for entertaining.

The exterior showcases fantastic details and a high mountain style. Stone, timber work, and a flared foundation tie the house to the natural surroundings. 
A wide open floor plan with tons of glass at the rear blurs the line between inside and out. Grandly scaled great room and kitchen are complimented by more intimately scaled nooks and spaces. A large screened porch increases the living area. 
The second floor includes three bedroom suites, all featuring walls of glass looking over the view. The two smaller rooms are on the left...each with a private bath and walk in closet. The left side of the house is home to an enormous master suite with sitting room, spa-like master bath, and double walk-in closets. The laundry room is conveniently located upstairs also.
If you're interested in learning more about the Altamont, please email us at
And join us on Facebook for a look at more of our designs.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Remaking a Classic Georgian Style House

There is no house style that has been more consistently a favorite of mine than the classic "Five Over Four and a Door" Georgian. Timeless, elegant, and just speaks of "home" to me. So I was very excited to be part of the wonderful team that remade this house.

The owners built the house in the mid-eighties, when stained wood trim was in, and open floor plans were just starting to be the norm.

Let's take a look at a few of the "before" pictures:

The front of the house lacked a covered entry and just generally felt a little tired.

The original family room had a massive brick fireplace and felt dark.

The original kitchen was spacious, but the heavy wood cabinets and brick floor made it feel small.

The original floor plan was a traditional arrangement of separate rooms.

The landscaping had become somewhat overgrown, as the clients spent several years planning the renovation.  This side of the house would become the site of the new master suite.

The original dining room was elegant, but felt small and closed off.

The original rear of the house had a small screened porch and didn't maximize the wonderful backyard.

After the trees were removed, this side of the house gets ready for an addition.
With their children now grown and beginning families of their own, the clients felt it was time to not only give the house a new look, but make it work better for the way they lived. Top of the list was a first floor master suite and expanded outdoor living. Their architect, who I have worked with in one capacity or another since the beginning of my career, drew up a plan that knocked down walls, opened up ceilings, and created a spacious master suite and gracious screened porch.

I stepped in to refine the details and assist with the interior design. We created a neutral backdrop and recovered many of their upholstered pieces in plain linen or monochromatic textured fabrics and layered seagrass rugs over the hardwoods to bring a more casual feel to the spaces. It is quite a transformation, but retains the original elegance and style.

Ready for the afters? Here they are: (warning, TONS of pictures, but be patient, they are worth waiting for!)

The new master suite is light-filled and features a small patio, which has become a favorite spot for morning coffee.

The new screened porch carries across much of the rear of the house, allowing for three separate furniture groupings.

We painted the interior doors Benjamin Moore "Graphite" and put these on barn door tracks for a fun accent.

We painted the back of the dining room built ins the same graphite as the doors to allow the blue and white collection to really pop.

A wide shot of the dining room, which used to be the kitchen.

Another view of the dining room. The built in banquette has a gorgeous nailhead design.
The new front of the house. The landscape architect suggested the stone courtyard wall with gas lamps, which softens the formality of the facade and creates a sense of arrival.

Another view of the front, with the master addition on the right.

The great room was brightened up with Benjamin Moore "Revere Pewter" paint, a Stark seagrass rug, and new upholstery in light tones.

The original brick fireplace and raised hearth were demolished for a flush fireplace with an elegant painted mantel.

The kitchen was moved to the back of the house, where a set of sliding doors opens it to the new screened porch. Distressed cabinetry, a copper farm sink, and classic antiqued subway tile backsplash make it a timeless space.

The new master bath is soothing in soft blues and white marble.

At the back door, we created a built in drop zone with bench, shelves, cubbies and hooks, to catch the clutter we all carry in with us!

The new outdoor kitchen is seeing a lot of use. Reclaimed barnwood cabinets hide a built in cooler.

The original dining room was opened to the foyer to create a reception room.

The statement making powder room!

The nearly 40' long screened porch has a brick floor, painted beadboard ceiling, and billowing outdoor drapery. We recovered the old family room furniture in durable outdoor fabrics to make this a truly comfortable outdoor room.

The study features a pair of demilunes where stacked books are ready to leaf through.

Part of the new open floor plan is this TV room, where four chairs surround a tufted ottoman.

Crisp white cabinetry in the master bath is punctuated by black shaded sconces.

Out back, a bluestone path connects the various outdoor living areas.

The abundance of light in the new master bedroom made the dark indigo walls possible.
The new master closet features marble-topped built-ins, highly specialized shelving, and this fun Lily Pulitzer rug!

Overlooking the refreshed tennis court, this brick firepit is a favorite spot on cool evenings.

In the great room, we created a small wetbar and used wine corks as the backsplash!  

We hope you enjoyed looking at this transformation as much as I enjoyed working on it! Be sure to like our Facebook page to keep up with more before and afters!