The journey to transform a classic carriage home into a contemporary traditional


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To get their dream house, Montgomery County household needed to partially demolish and rebuild 1909 construction

The homeowners wanted an L-shaped house, which includes a central courtyard.
The owners needed an L-shaped home, which features a central courtyard. (Jennifer Hughes)


Ten years in the past, Lee and Jen Odess purchased a Seventies-era rambler with a leaky basement within the particular taxing district often known as the city of Oakmont, which is off Georgetown Street in Bethesda.

They offered the home in 2015 and moved to Florida for a job alternative however Oakmont known as them again house. The difficult journey took some time however ultimately landed them in a contemporary house that began its life as 1909 classic carriage home.

The household, which incorporates two youngsters, moved again to Bethesda in 2018 and started on the lookout for one thing to purchase. “We spent six months in a rental taking a look at homes,” says Jen, 42. “I knew I needed an L-shaped home, and I knew I needed tremendous fashionable.” The household thought of shopping for a mid-century fashionable house formed like an “L” whereas in Florida and the thought caught. She and her husband Lee, 45, each work as know-how executives.

The possibilities of discovering a contemporary L-shaped home in Bethesda appeared distant, so the household known as in Colleen Healey, principal of Colleen Healey Structure based mostly in D.C, to start out taking a look at teardown potentialities. Healey had recognized the owners personally for years and was frank with them about their restricted choices. “I instructed them, ‘Given your price range we’re going to have to search out rather a lot that no person else desires, get a deal on it after which determine find out how to be artistic,’ ” Healey says.

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Whereas scrolling by means of listings, Jen landed on a risk. “The home was caught in time on a cool formed lot and the worth was low,” she says. The lot hosted a carriage home that years earlier had been transformed into dwelling house through an addition off the again. It sits off the road barely behind what was the principle home on the property and is bordered by seven surrounding properties. Healey gave the thumbs-up and the acquisition was made in 2019 for $615,000.

The city of Oakmont was fashioned in 1918 by three neighbors who needed municipal providers dropped at what was then a distant part of Montgomery County. Oliver Owen Kuhn, the managing editor of the Night Star, was one of many founders. Walter “Large Prepare” Johnson, the ace pitcher of the Washington Senators, lived close by, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had mates within the neighborhood. The city is 2 streets lengthy and consists of about 60 houses unfold over 18½ acres. The city has a design evaluation board that daunts “mansionization,” however discovered no points with the Odess household’s unconventional plans.

The design was hatched rapidly in about six months as Healey and Jen determined to protect a purple maple tree on the aspect of the property and three partitions of the carriage home. The addition can be torn down and rebuilt. A “galley” shoots off at a 90-degree angle and connects a brand new part. The L-shape creates a courtyard used as an out of doors leisure house and a playground for the children.

Demolition started in September 2019 because the household deliberate on being of their new house earlier than their two-year lease was up on the rental. Six months later, the pandemic hit. Principals of Cabin John Builders, based mostly in Cabin John, Md., who’re additionally mates of the owners, signed on because the crew and rapidly started ascending the training curve related to fashionable design. “Fashionable detailing needs to be performed on the framing degree earlier than you get to the finishes,” says Healey.

Delays started to have an effect on the venture and dwelling preparations because the household realized they had been going to need to vacate the rental earlier than the brand new home was completed. They moved in with Lee’s dad and mom for some time, then packed up the household automobile and started a street journey to Florida, stopping at Airbnbs so the children may attend on-line courses. Life on the street lasted about eight weeks till the builders and owners agreed the home was completed sufficient to occupy.

The driveway runs to the aspect of what was the property’s primary home and ends at what was the entrance of the carriage home. The round porthole window was a part of the prevailing construction. The big window that appears into the kitchen was a horse-size entrance. Though the carriage home may have been knocked down, there was a technique for leaving it in place.

“Individuals most likely thought we had been loopy for maintaining any of it,” says Healey. “For zoning causes, we had been capable of keep additional ahead, by about 4 toes, as a result of we preserved components of it.” One wall of the carriage home was eliminated and changed with a window wall looking onto the courtyard. The roof was popped up and pitched to a shed configuration, which made room for clerestory home windows.

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The house’s entrance door is off to the aspect of the driveway and opens right into a lobby. There’s a mud room off to the fitting and a small examine to the left. The nice room is straight forward. Initially the household deliberate on separating the dwelling space of the house and the eating space and kitchen with a slatted picket divider, however the plans modified. The kitchen is to the fitting with the butler’s pantry tucked behind the kitchen’s rear wall.

The principle dwelling space sits inside the unique partitions of the carriage home. The house that was the addition was rebuilt into two children’ rooms, every with its personal full bathtub. There’s additionally a hangout house and a powder room. The flooring within the previous part are all poured concrete.

The kitchen is outlined by an island with seating for 3 and grey, lacquered base cabinetry under. The vary and fridge, each from Jenn Air, are framed right into a built-in wall unit that features a line of higher cupboards. The sink faces the surface wall, which is lined with a row of whitewashed oak base cabinetry. All the cupboards got here from Downsview Kitchens, based mostly in Ontario, Canada. The island and counter tops are a mixture of honed black granite and white Corian.

The far wall of the nice room is trimmed with slatted wooden that leads company into the gallery, which features as a hallway resulting in the brand new part of the home. Early within the design part the gallery was going to be all glass, however plans had been scaled again, and it’s now lined with slatted wooden. The brand new part is on two ranges, with the decrease degree devoted to a visitor suite. Upstairs is the principle suite, which incorporates an workplace, bed room and a walk-through closet resulting in the principle bathtub. The principle bathtub has a separate water closet and a curbless bathe with three heads. An overhead skylight illuminates the house.

The principle suite affords a quiet respite and a very good view of the purple maple tree that survived the renovation course of. The outside coloration alternatives are a mixture of daring hues and black, which precipitated one of many neighbors to ask the owners in the event that they had been constructing a funeral parlor. Not counting the snarky remark, the quirky neighborhood that when turned on the streetlights with a change on one of many authentic resident’s entrance porch has accepted the brand new arrival.

“It’s sudden. It appears to be like like a really small house after which it opens as much as you,” says Healey.

“It’s so totally different for the neighborhood. They will see there are alternative ways of renovating and alternative ways of upgrading. There are different solutions and different methods of dwelling.”

The owners selected to not disclose the renovation prices and concede that their value per sq. foot is excessive as in contrast with different houses within the space — however is offset by the house’s modest 3,300 sq. foot measurement.

Resale at this level isn’t a problem, even when one other job alternative in Florida materializes. “We don’t care as a result of we’re not shifting,” says Jen. “If we had been shifting, we’d hold the home. It’s not very large nevertheless it’s dialed in to precisely what we would like.”

The expertise grew to become life-affirming for the owners, says Jen. “Dealing with the unknown was a problem however I like the story. We repurposed components of the home and it was enjoyable doing it with shut mates. It was significant for us.”


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