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Real Estate Transformations

The Transformation of Hilltop House

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By Friday, Oct 19, 2018 , More In Real Estate
Aaron Thompson
A 1980's Cape house transformed into a contemporary oasis of calm with incredible views.

Amazing views. We knew that they were there and it would take a lot of work to expose them and to re-imagine and open the house to capture them. Our challenge from our clients, through our studio – Red House Design — was to take an existing 1980s modified Cape home, set on a hilltop with long-range southern views obscured by dense trees and overgrown landscape, and do just that.

The homeowners loved the property, its location and surrounding landscape, but the structure was dated and dark and had to be reworked to fit their indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Awkward rooflines, the first thing you see from the driveway, give a haphazard first impression that feels more “back of house” than “front of house”.

Existing house with mismatched roof lines and small bedroom windows facing the view. Photo: Michael Alper

New enlarged windows now capture the view from the main living space and re-framed roof lines create visual harmony. Photo: Aaron Thompson

The orientation of the house on the site seemed backward, with the front door hidden in the rear and the overall living experience cut off from the spectacular setting.

Arrival to the existing house – where’s the front door? Photo: Michael Alper

Formal entry and new front door – come on in! Photo: Aaron Thompson

Existing windows were small, low-ceilinged rooms were cramped and dark, and a staircase cut the main living areas in two. The master bedroom was the sole space awarded views and light.

This was the existing front door and blank landscaping at the entry, all located on the back of the house, hemmed in by encroaching woods. The living areas faced the back, not the views. Photo: Michael Alper

 

Opening up the views with more windows, screen porch, and exposed stone outcroppings. Trees have been limbed and thinned to enhance long range views and passive solar. Photo: Aaron Thompson

This project was also an opportunity to address under-performing insulation, failed windows and an outmoded heating system. The renovation yielded an energy-efficient, tight house that exceeded current building codes for environmental standards.

We set out to create a spare, modern, open and light-filled home, with large shared living areas and private spaces for the owners and guests alike, without expanding the existing footprint. Relocating the staircase and moving rooms – the kitchen, master bedroom, and living/office spaces – allowed for more light, views and large spaces.

A new screen porch took advantage of sun, breezes and views in three directions, while connecting indoor and outdoor living experiences.

Screen Porch detail from the edge of the pool. Photo: Aaron Thompson

Screen Porch interior and views to distant mountains. Photo: Aaron Thompson

A series of retaining walls would allow for outdoor entertaining spaces along with a spa and large pool, extending the living areas into the landscape. Natural rock outcroppings were exposed and included in the landscape plan, along with clearing and thinning of trees to open the views, reworking the grading and extensive plantings.

Indoor/outdoor living and new landscaping. Photo: Aaron Thompson

With all of that accomplished, this Hilltop House is now an oasis of calm and modernity, open living and outdoor beauty.


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