TRANSFORMATIONS: Unique renovation in Williamstown
Williamstown — What our client called “Porschecapades” (weekend jaunts in a used Carrera from Boston to the Berkshires) led him to this 1949 Cape in a funky location close to town, on a private, winding lane hidden behind a motel. He fell in love with this cute little place, its good bones, and the terrific views of the mountains.
The owner wanted to create a bright, simple, fun space that’s a joy to live in even on the dreariest of days. Inside and out, the 1950’s theme has been preserved, combining a nod to mid-century modern with a contemporary feel.
Opening Up to the Light
The pluses of the property included affordability, small size, charm, an interesting site, and good basic construction. On the minus side was a dark interior, lack of visual connection to the outdoors, an outdated kitchen, a constricted flow pattern, and an almost unusable second floor with two narrow rooms, each with a single window in the two end gables. As architects, our goal and challenge was to give the house an exciting new feel, improve circulation, and open the back and the second floor to light and views.
One Major Move … and a Sustainable Paradigm
The renovation of this 1,600 sq. ft. house was completed in October, 2009. The budget was kept relatively modest (under $200,000) by adding a simple shed dormer, opening up the space, and using cost effective solutions like IKEA cabinets put together by the contractor and standard sized Pella windows with High-E insulating glass. We limited ourselves to one major move, the large shed dormer facing the view, which encloses a new second floor master bedroom, and aligns with new openings on the main floor in the dining area and kitchen. The dormer then connects to a new outdoor deck with the result that the interior flows out of the center of the house and spills onto the backyard lawn.
By opening the kitchen to the dining area, and adding a second opening to the living room, we were able to create a circular flow in the living areas. On the second floor the dormer also afforded us some window areas at the top of the existing dark and narrow stairway as well as an opening to the dining area below so that one now ascends toward light and the view.
We were able to substantially increase the insulation in the roof (R-50 value) and the all-new walls were built to R-32 value. The new siding is Hardie Plank, and the trim and decking are by Azek.
High / Low Design
The house is a blend of elegant and affordable (Kartell next to IKEA), and a mix of period pieces (Heywood Wakefield beds and dressers, Tony Paul side tables, an old Zenith TV), great photography (Annie Leibovitz, Chema Madoz, David Armstrong, Julie Blackmon, Alex Prager, Cig Harvey), and interesting collections (vintage robots from Etsy, TV lamps, Japanese baseball cards from the 50’s). It’s all tied together by a bright, lively color scheme that mixes Wasabi Green, Yam Orange, and Blue Jean Blue.
Our owner is quoted in Boston Globe Magazine as saying, “The whole house is filled with stories of where we found these things.” The home is also featured in Real Life Kitchens & Baths and BH&G Kitchen + Bath Makeovers, as well as StayingPut.com and Houzz.com.
With an eye to budget, an inventive design solution, and winning collaboration with a dynamic owner, the aesthetic has been tailored to create this comfortable and airy vacation retreat in which to relax, unwind, and enjoy the country lifestyle.
Contractor: Vince Martel, Savoy, Mass.
Structural Engineer: Barry Constructors, Pittsfield, Mass.
Color Consultant: Doug Paisley, Williamstown, Mass.