All Projects Cambridge, Ma

A Small Addition with a Big Impact

Interiors Kitchens

This Cambridge Mansard Victorian was a near perfect fit for its owners’ needs. It had historic charm and distinctive architectural character, a not-so-big footprint that suited their empty-nester lifestyle, a lovely outdoor space, and a highly walkable location. The one downside was insufficient space to entertain family and friends.

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An open but cozy living and dining space served multiple functions. It housed the owners’ extensive library. It was where they hung out, watched TV, and ate their meals. It was also the main thoroughfare. When it was just the two of them, the space could easily accommodate these various uses. But when their kids were at home or they had friends over, space was tight.

When people came for dinner, they would rearrange the living room furniture to make more room for the dining table. Or, in the nice weather, they would set up a table outside. They had managed this way for several years, and it was starting to get old.

We rarely do additions...

...because we can usually meet our clients’ needs without them. This was a rare case where we knew almost immediately that an addition would be necessary. Architect Bill Harper’s solution (developed in collaboration with one of the owners who is also an architect) was to take over part of the back deck and expand the footprint by a mere 6’.

Prior to the project the kitchen had felt isolated from the adjacent living space. And from the outside, the owners felt it resembled a “monopoly piece stuck on the back of the house.” With our relatively modest expansion we rectified both problems and enabled the owners to entertain with ease.





Creating connection

By pushing out 6’ we were able to remove about 2/3 of the exterior side wall of the kitchen, opening it up to the newly added space. We also replaced the kitchen’s gable roof with a higher flat roof over both the addition and the kitchen. The higher ceiling allowed us to add transoms above the kitchen cabinets, providing views to the backyard and a feeling of airiness.

Skylights over the dining area and in the kitchen bring in more natural light and views of the sky. In a unique twist, we carried these views sky through the roof over the back landing creating an outdoor “skylight” which gives the feeling of immersion in the outdoors. Finally, from the outside you no longer see a “monopoly piece stuck on the back of house” but an elegant architectural form.

As part of the project, we also installed heat pumps throughout the house. The primary impetus was a desire for cooling, but the owners were also hoping to reduce their reliance on their gas boiler. The result is a home that is not only more functional and architecturally coherent but is also more comfortable and less dependent on fossil fuels.