With all the renovations and restoration that were to take place on this project, everyone – starting with the homeowners – was mindful of finding ways to re-incorporate features that were original to the structure or the grounds. We did so, even to constructing a period-style wood picket fence to replicate the one that was found in a late 1800’s photo of the homestead.
In what was originally a dining room, evidence of a former floor-to-ceiling corner cupboard was clearly seen. After some selective demolition, paint profiles were found on the ceiling joists. The side profiles were evident on the walls, and the flooring revealed information about the base. It took an equal amount of detective work to determine the true original door style and transom, as well as the window sash configurations. The long-abandoned house yielded only one original interior door which we used as a pattern for the cupboard doors and to reproduce all other interior room doors.
200+ years of foot traffic up and down the spiral staircase had loosened everything, making the staircase “springy” which in turn cracked and loosened the plaster. Restoration carpenters removed all the plaster and plaster lath, reinforced the underside of each step from the 1st-floor entry to the 3rd-floor attic, and inspected and tightened up any questionable components. Plaster walls were repaired, new plaster applied to the underside of the staircase, and original paint colors applied throughout.
A derelict winder staircase, its board partition wall, a crumbling cooking fireplace, and the ghosts of adjacent cupboards provided all the information we needed to reconstruct and restore this hospitable room. In reconstructing the cabinets, the doors were patterned after the only original door found in the house. The configuration and style of the open shelf unit were guided by markings left from the original shelves. A new mantle shelf was made to fit the original outlines above the fireplace. During the Victorian era, the ceiling had been comb-painted; a decorative feature the owners wanted very much to preserve. We repaired the plaster damages, carefully cleaned the surface, and then infilled all the missing comb painting.
The house in which this magnificent fireplace and paint-decorated paneling are now restored stood empty for many years. During those dormant years, salvage thieves broke in and ripped the fireplace surround and many other valuable items from their place. Dogged determination on the part of the then-owner tracked down the fireplace surround – albeit in hundreds of pieces – and dogged determination on the part of our restoration carpenters reconstructed it. Many hours of meticulous paint scraping revealed the original colors and faux graining which were then recreated.
In Goldilocks’ terms, this addition is “not too big, not too small, but just right”; however, the details make this addition grand.
Stone, used to face the chimney’s exterior, was salvaged from a local barn foundation; it matches the house’s stone. Random width, ship lapped, wood siding; every piece scribed to fit the irregularities of the abutting stone chimney and the house walls. The porch roof replicates, in every detail, one found on a not-too-distant mill.
Inside, vintage wood ceiling joists, including a massive summer beam, that were salvaged from the historic but now demolished Mountain Springs Hotel in Ephrata. Real plaster walls. Vintage oak flooring; many boards measuring 15″ wide. Vintage brick fireplace hearth. And the piéce de resistance; a new fireplace surround with doors, custom-made and painted to appear 200 years old, including vintage wrought-iron hinges.
This new kitchen addition was designed to appear as a natural extension of the original c. 1817 stone house which reflects the transitional period between Georgian and Federal architecture. The construction of the addition also reflects an indigenous trend from that period: The façade is constructed of stone, but the sides and rear are framed and sheathed with wood siding.
Breaking with historic accuracy at the rear, French doors open onto a native-stone patio and Pa-German garden enclosed within an authentic split-rail and split-pale fence made in the time-honored tradition of human hands and hand tools.
The large country-style kitchen features granite counter tops, custom wrought-iron rat-tail hinges and drawer pulls, deep-drawer storage for bulky pots and pans, random-width vintage flooring, and separate pantry and foyer rooms (not seen in photo). The work spaces, cabinetry, hardware, appliances, and fixtures were selected or designed with the client’s arthritic condition in mind, thereby minimizing the impact on stiff, sore joints. The cabinets beneath the sink and the stove top each have provision for pulling up a stool so the owner can sit at either. All of which goes to show you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort.
Design by Cox-Evans Architects
The owners’ plans for their project included not only restoration of the circa 1810-1815 stone house – a genuine diamond in the rough – but also period-style or sympathetic additions to accommodate a growing family. The intent was to make the major addition appear almost as a mirror image of the original house, joined by a period-style central connecting wing. Every detail, from the wall stones to the window trims, mimic or match the 1800’s house.
This addition’s construction is a blend of traditional and high-tech methods. We assembled the frame with salvaged timbers in the historic timber-framing method; constructed roof trusses from vintage lumber using age-old mortise-&-tenon joinery; sheathed the ceiling with weathered barn siding; installed re-sawn vintage heart pine flooring secured with hand-wrought nails; and installed period hardware on all the doors.
The custom cabinetry incorporates every modern convenience, yet the hand-rubbed “distressed” finish gives it that old-world look. High-tech lighting, energy-saving appliances, and stress-skin insulating panels combine to provide the best of both worlds. And what really brings a warm glow to this “old” room is the thoroughly modern remote-control gas-log fireplace. Designed to mirror the cook top’s enclosure, the fireplace can trick the most seasoned “wood-splitter” into pulling up a chair and propping his feet in front of the fire.
The remarkable design of this post-&-beam kitchen addition was tremendously successful because of all the proper elements being in place: The owners, whose vision and open-mindedness and enthusiasm inspired everyone involved in their project; the architects, who not only heard what the owners wanted but were able to communicate it through their design; and the craftsmen who skillfully executed the vision and design down to the smallest details.
Design by Cox-Evans Architects
Sometimes an “addition” consists of taking what is there already and bumping out or even going up. In this case, we did some of each. In order to add bedroom space to the second floor, we went up, adding a full second floor above a former garage. And, in order to enlarge a cramped older kitchen, we bumped out the first-floor rear. To regain the lost garage space, a true “addition” was built – a spacious garage with guest quarters on the upper level – cleverly disguised as a Lancaster County-red barn.