After the facelift, the living room sees the outside with new eyes, higher and brighter. Photo: Wit McKay

A facelift for an aging ranch

An old ranch house, aging in place, got a new lease on life with a spiffy facelift and bright new eyes, thanks to the genius of Williamstown firm Burr and McCallum Architects.

Our clients bought an older ranch house because they liked the in-town site, which was nonetheless fairly out-of-the-way and quiet. However, they were not at all excited about the house itself, which they found dark, a little small for their needs, and very dated in appearance. Rather than tearing it down, which seemed wasteful, they wanted us to work with the existing structure. Our solution was a major facelift and a small addition to expand the dining area and add a master bedroom.

The front of the house, before renovation. Photo: Burr & McCallum
The front of the house, before renovation. Photo: Burr & McCallum

When we first looked at the house we were struck by the fact that we couldn’t see the tops of the nearby hills because the low windows and eight foot ceiling cut off the upper part of the view. Our answer was to tear out some of the ceilings and make larger, higher windows. In the end, the rear side of the house became three gables facing the view and containing the bedroom, dining room, and living room.

After facelift, the front of the house with a raised entryway. Photo: Wit McKay
After facelift, the front of the house with a raised entryway. Photo: Wit McKay
A closeup on the new raised front entrance. Photo: Wit McKay
A closeup on the new raised front entrance. Photo: Wit McKay

The front of the house had a dark, recessed entry, which we found unwelcoming. We replaced it with a small tower-like gable filled with light. We replaced the asphalt shingle roof with light gray standing seam metal, and we removed the dated looking brick veneer from the front elevation. Inside, we installed light colored wide board floors, and our color expert Doug Paisley created a very light palette of whites and pale colors for the walls. We designed a new deck framed with steel, with cable railings and an Ipe wood floor. Our steel fabricator Jay Burnet built a handsome steel stair leading to the back yard which includes LED lights recessed into the railings.

The back of the house, before facelift. Photo: Burr & McCallum
The back of the house, before facelift. Photo: Burr & McCallum
After the facelift, the new back of the house, with raised ceilings and higher windows. The old deck on the left has been replaced by new rooms, resulting in three gables and a new deck.  Photo: Wit McKay
Close-up of the new back deck. Photo: Wit McKay
Close-up of the new back deck. Photo: Wit McKay

At the same time, we added some energy efficiencies. We upgraded the insulation in all the exterior walls and added a layer of rigid foam insulation on the outside of the framing. Replacing all the windows with “High-R” glazing also was an upgrade.

The newly renovated kitchen and dining room, with its new color palette. Photo:Wit McKay
The renovated kitchen and dining room, with its new color palette. Photo:Wit McKay
The new dining room, with new lifted eyes and brows, comprising the center of the three gables at the back of the house. Photo: Wit McKay
The new dining room, with lifted eyes and brows, comprising the center of the three gables at the back of the house. Photo: Wit McKay

New larger windows, a new kitchen and totally revamped bathrooms finished the house revisions and then we tackled the landscape, creating a larger backyard with stone walls defining the edges, and in the front a new landscaped walkway to the entrance and new plantings completed the picture.