Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Another Storey

John Tackett Design.
A Proposed Addition and Improvements
to a New House Under Construction.
Image: The Devoted Classicist blog
A colleague has interior design clients building a very large house custom designed by a local architect.  In addition to a substantial main block, there are extensions in both directions with almost endless passages to room after room on the Ground Floor.  So it was a surprise to be contacted about a possible expansion while the house was just starting construction.

There was interest in having parents occupy the planned Master Suite on the Ground Floor, requiring the homeowners to relocate to the Second Floor and push the guest rooms to a new Third Floor.  The interior designer wisely advised against expansion of the Ground Floor, already a maze many time larger than the main block.  The program for John Tackett Design was to suggest an upward expansion of the main block without increasing the overall roof height, and propose some detailing to give more architectural interest.  The foundation was complete and framing underway but the structural engineer gave approval for the proposed added storey.  My quick sketch over a reduced-size print of the original construction drawing is shown.

A very deep porch is replaced with an entrance terrace (already in place) with a rusticated limestone first floor giving a visual base for applied limestone pilasters and a limestone pediment.  Instead of the over-sized brown brick with white mortar originally planned, I suggested a traditional-sized brick in a buff ochre color with matching mortar to compliment the proposed buff Minnesota limestone.  The windows were already on order, but I did suggest changing the Upstairs Center Hall window over the front door, and the window of the two-story Secondary Stair Hall seen on the front of the house.  Also, my design changes the front door to a narrow pair and alters the sidelights, transom and limestone surround.

The interior designer who had apparently expressed concerns throughout the original design process was thrilled with my proposal.  And the homeowners were ecstatic.  But the parents, who were not part of the discussion, balked at the thought of moving in with their adult offspring.  "Never!" was their reported comment.  So this has been one last view before going into the Unbuilt category in the files.


  1. Much more handsome than the proposed - a shame it won't be built. What architect uses lower case letters on their drawings btw? Very suspect....
    Love your use of the metal balcony railing to give gravitas to the long (stairway?) window.

    1. Thanks, Stefan. As for the upper and lower case lettering on the construction drawings, the whole set is done that way. All the notes on plans, elevations and details are upper and lower case.

  2. I think that they should adopt your plan anyway, perhaps using it as an excuse to simplify some of the maze. Your third story has dignified proportions that replace the extra-tall attic story, which I always found somewhat peculiar on houses new or old anyway. Then too, your third-floor guest area seems more green, which these days is always fitting and smart.

    1. Jim, I did not want to complicate the story, but this a resurrection of an unfinished post from some ago. The house was completed according to the original plans but soon sold. I dug it out because my same interior designer friend is now decorating the house for the new owners. Apparently it was sold at a loss with potential buyers noting the lack of curb appeal.

    2. (Sorry Devoted Readers. Replying with an iPhone often results in missing words. My apologies).

    3. no missing words nor any misspellings. I hope you have the 6+! Maybe you aren't old enough for it!

      What a great post! so informative......and a cautionary tale!

  3. John,
    I read this with great interest, while inwardly cringing-since I had so wanted to involve you in my 14,000 square foot new construction in SC a couple of years ago. You know how to make it look distinguished, in a very academic way.


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