Connected Modern Home Addition: Flexibly Expanding
Architects: Christiane deJong AIA and Megan Mueller AIAS
In many instances, a client’s desire to expand their home corresponds with a significant life change. This was the case with our client Kerin, who suddenly found herself in need of an in-law suite that could accommodate her aging mother. Kerin thought it might be possible to re-appropriate the carport area at the front of her mid-century modern home for this purpose but she would need an architect’s help. She found deJong Studio and contacted us right away to assist her with the project.
At the time, Kerin wasn’t thinking about the long-term use of this space. Christiane and the team brought up questions about what the transformation would do for the resale value of the house in the competitive Fairfax County real estate market. We asked, thinking outside the box, if she could imagine using the space in other ways in the future. These were difficult questions, but they got Kerin thinking more broadly about how a flexible design might be a good long-term approach.
Street view showing new front addition and carport
With this in mind, we began our efforts to create a distinct suite, complete with a separate entrance. Christiane focused on developing a space that would flexibly function as both an in-law suite now and a master bedroom or family room in the future. We sized the main room for use as either a bedroom or family room and added an accessible bath that could be entered from the hallway connecting the suite to the main house. We included plenty of storage space and designed plumbed walls that could serve as a kitchenette now, a family room bar, or, with plumbing removed, a future bedroom walk-in-closet.
While thinking in terms of multi-use functionality, the most challenging part of the design came in maintaining the privacy required for bedroom space at the front elevation of the house. Kerin pointed out that her current main entry, located at the side of the house, was all but invisible from the street. This made finding the front door difficult, and she often had strangers knocking on her second entry door in the carport.
Christiane knew it would not be difficult to add the design elements that would better define the entry sequence. This path would sit adjacent to the new bedroom space, however, making privacy in the new bedroom a challenge. As a solution to this, we added a narrow full-height corner window. This allowed us to limit the glass area in the facade to a small area where window dressings could easily provide a privacy screen. At the same time this corner window works well to mark the path to the front door and creates an inviting facade while still limiting views to the interior.
Side view of new entry at original house/joint between existing and new