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Home Addition Plans Made with View in Mind

Home Addition Plans Made with View in Mind

The homeowners’ lovely lot is perched on a hilltop, high above their street and neighbors, with views of faraway treetops and clouds, and a sense of the nearby Potomac River coursing through the forests far below. But the homeowners had always felt their house did not fully engage these beautiful vistas. Their main living space faced those views, but its design and placement seemed to retreat from, rather than seek and engage, this lovely panorama. The homeowners contacted Hopkins and Porter for help with home addition plans that would embrace the sweeping views from which they had felt disconnected for many years. Hopkins & Porter was a logical choice, as H&P had designed and implemented many major projects for their home over many decades, ranging from major additions and renovations to a new kitchen and baths, to a curved screen porch in their backyard that won local and national design awards.

The design solution H&P created was both simple and complex.

1. The existing house layout was basically a “U"-shape, with the open end of the “U" facing the desired views. However, the living room windows formed the center of the “U and were the building element furthest away from the views. Furthermore, the living room windows were flanked and crowded on either side by the tall parts of the building that formed the two legs of the “U".
2.  H&P’s architect designed an addition to the living room which, instead of being set back from the front views, is now the most prominent part of the house. The addition’s two sides angle outward from the existing living room to the front of the house, and consists of floor to ceiling glass in the front and on the sides, thus maximizing the amount of transparency and view from within. The old front wall of the previous living room was entirely removed, unifying the previous living room space with the new addition’s space, and creating a spacious and uninterrupted setting. Continuation of the existing hardwood flooring into the new addition reinforces the sense of a harmonious and unified space.

3. A temporary wall was built to support the roof while construction continued. The temporary wall provided both insulation from the winter weather, as well as security for the home while construction continued. It would be replaced later with a custom engineered wood and steel beam, with no visible vertical supports.

4. One of the homeowners’ concerns was that an existing adjacent guest bedroom window would be obscured by the proposed addition. H&P saw this as an opportunity to pull the addition away from the guest room window, thus creating a small discrete courtyard that still allows daylight for the guests, as well as affords them a view into their personal zen garden, complete with river rocks.

5. Also, the roof of the addition, when viewed from within, was designed as a “flying roof”, to sweep dramatically upwards, to increase the height of the glass in front, and bring the eye upwards towards the sky. 

 6. The sense of light and space created by this design approach completely transforms and elevates the entire energy and feeling of the house, both within and from outside.

7. From outside, the sense of lightness and transparency of the new floor to ceiling glass walls are further accentuated by a massive and beautifully crafted stone foundation base, along with front stone steps and stoop.

8. From within, the “flying” ceiling of the addition embraces both distant views and the mature trees and plantings near the house. The glass corners of the addition were designed with frameless corners, allowing one to get a better sense of the rest of the house and its setting. 

9. Also within the addition, a 10’ long x 7” tall wet bar, along with a new hall closet, serve as a visual anchor for the large new space.

10. A few feet away from the new wet bar is a freestanding 7’ high “art wall” displaying, on both sides, a 10’ long x 3’ high series of exquisite museum quality Japanese prints of fish. The art wall was designed to appear floating just above the floor, visually resting on a pool of light from concealed lighting within. On an adjacent living room wall, an original Audubon print of a snowy white egret coexists peacefully with the 150-year-old fish images.

11. The homeowners asked that their original front door, which was a painted wood door from Canada, selected decades ago by the homeowners and H&P, be re-used as the front door of the new addition. This addition posed many challenges, logistical and otherwise, for the H&P craftsmen who built it. One of the most difficult challenges was the fact that the house sits so high on the hilltop, reachable only by a long series of steep steps from the street below. This meant that all materials, from 24’ long pieces of lumber to huge panels of insulated glass, to stone and concrete, etc. had to be hand carried to the work area. Also, the difficulty reaching the work site meant that no machinery was available to the crews.

All tasks that would normally be performed with a machine were done manually, including digging the extensive excavation required for the project.

The homeowners have always had a creative, informed, and adventurous outlook on life, and approach each of their home's projects as both challenges and opportunities, and with a sense of wit, perception, and charm.

This project also included a completely new master bathroom renovation, as well as improvements to a second bathroom, and other improvements.

The new main living space now enjoys views towards both the heavily treed backyard, which also has a koi pond, as well as the front views from the hilltop, over the beautifully landscaped front yard and stone walkway.

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