Opening Up a Small 1940’s Colonial

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My client lives in what started out as a small 1940’s colonial in Silver Spring, MD. Like all modest houses of it’s era it had small rooms separated from each other including a small galley kitchen and no foyer — the front door led right into the living room. The indoors were completely cut off from the outdoors with relatively small windows in the brick exterior. But the house had one very major advantage going for it — the corner lot was continuous with a large triangle of beautifully landscaped county land. Unfortunately, the expansive view was virtually invisible to the house’s living spaces. The homeowners are avid gardeners and had actually installed some of the plantings on the county’s land.

They came to me after living in the house for over a decade and slowly improving their grounds and the adjacent county land. Their primary desire was to open up the house to the outdoors. Their list of additional desires included wants typical for homeowners living in Pre-WWII housing:

– Connecting the Kitchen to the Rest of House
– Making the home friendly for entertaining
– Creating a First Floor Bath and Guest Room
– Improving insulation and comfort
– Creating More Storage
– Creating A formal Entry

The task was more difficult than usual because the placement of the house on the lot and the setbacks eliminated the ability to put an addition on the back plus the good views and privacy were toward the front where the county land was but the setbacks dramatically limited the placement and size of any front addition also.

The solution involved adding a total of 400 square feet in 3 small additions. Two of the additions — a small breakfast room that captures morning light, and a small bath addition — were each less than 100 square feet and filled-in unused corners behind an original garage turned into living space by a previous owner and an old sleeping porch also enclosed by a previous owner. A 16ft x 12ft front addition with windows on 3 sides brings the beautiful views from the county land into the main part of the home.

Vaulted Entry with Connection to the New Light-Filled Living Room
Vaulted Entry with Connection to the New Light-Filled Living Room

The original sleeping porch — enclosed by a previous owner but rarely used by my client — was turned into a gracious vaulted foyer with storage closets on both sides.  As you walk in you face the back of the chimney — a perfect spot for future artwork.  The deep “cabernet” wall and ceiling color help create a sense of enclosure as you enter the home — and balanced by the expansive off-white trim.  While natural light comes from a leaded door and door lites, natural light also pulls you into the living room or breakfast room on either side of the chimney.

wp-image-2817″ alt=”Vaulted Entry with Connection to the New Light-Filled Breakfast Room and Kitchen” src=”×600.jpg” width=”400″ height=”600″ /> Vaulted Entry with Connection to the New Light-Filled Breakfast Room and Kitchen

The floor of the old porch was raised and insulated and floored with the same oak hardwood found throughout the rest of the house.

Dining Room
The Old Living Room is Now a Spacious Dining Room

We transformed the old living room into a new dining room connected to the foyer (seen in the picture, above), the living room, and the kitchen — behind the new glass fronted and backed built-in to the right.

New Dining Room
The dining room is off the new foyer and connects to the kitchen and living areas.

The dining room will also connect directly to a future patio accessed through the opening that was once the front door and is now a glass patio door.  Painted built-ins throughout the new and old areas were designed to look original to the home.

Galley Kitchen
The Galley Kitchen Borrows Light from the New Breakfast Room and from the light-filled front through glass cabinets

The new galley kitchen takes up the area that used to be the old dining room and original small galley kitchen.  Glass-fronted and backed built-ins separate the kitchen from the dining room allowing light to pass through but hiding views of the mess.

Galley Kitchen
The Galley Kitchen with Eating Counter and Connection to the Light-Filled Breakfast Room

There is only a single small window in the kitchen but the space borrows a lot of light from a patio door to a back deck, the light-filled breakfast room, and the new exposures on the other side of the dining room.  An overhand allows guests to join in the conversation out of the way of the cook.

My client wanted me to emphasize that all the money went into the remodel and that they haven’t yet had the time or money to properly furnish the new space.

I’ll include more details soon.  In the meantime, I’ve included before and after floor plans below as well as a list of resources and some “before” pictures.

First Floor Plan After Remodel
First Floor Plan After Remodel
First Floor Plan Before Remodel
First Floor Plan Before Remodel


Kitchen Cabinets: Smithport K-Sereis; Cherry; Glaze: Canadian

Countertops: Quartz Cambria – Praa Sands

Kitchen Backsplash Travertine Claros Silver Honed

Hardwood Flooring Red Oak ; MinWax Stain: Provincial

Before Pictures: 

Interior View Before
Old Living Room
Only View of County Land to the Original Front of the House Before Remodel
Only View of County Land to the Original Front of the House Before Remodel
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