Marrying the best of old and new

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Walking around in our neighborhood I notice that homes tend to fall in a couple categories in my head:

  • Older and either loved up or maybe not so much love, but still home
  • Older with new additions that often look like carbuncles tacked on with little relationship to the original home
  • New and trying to look like something older, like a bungalow or four square.

Now there is nothing terribly wrong with any of this, all part of the diversity of life and all. Yet there is also something derivative about a new home or addition trying to look like an craftsman or bungalow home.

For me, homes that feel the most beautiful ,and seem to enhance the feel of the street and neighborhood, are those homes that have worked at integrating the best of the old and the new. And these seem sadly very rare.  Which is a shame as it only takes a little extra consideration in the planning stage of work on our homes to create this synergy.

One example from our own home was when we decided to add a wrap around porch to the existing home (which I have written about here in the past). When I was working with our building team I was always looking for how we could make the porch a more contemporary style and tie in the existing architecture of our 1908 home. So we streamlined the design of the roof and the bannisters and railing and the ceiling and floor. We looked at how the lines of the porch could relate best to the existing home. We also explored how to subtly refer to design elements of our original home in a modern way on the porch. If we were going to build a porch, I wanted to imagine creating something that would also enrich the look of the original house, and have something fresh in the look and feel.

And what we ended up creating is so satisfying. We live on a fairly lively corner of our neighborhood and we have almost daily lovely feedback from people walking past on the work we have done. Even people driving by and stopping in the street and complimenting us on the look of the house and porch. For some it reminds them of homes from the south. For others it links to a farmhouse from their childhood. For others they love the feel of wrap around porch.

It makes me realize that modern design can have a timeless quality that people really appreciate, especially when it has a strong relationship to whats around it. This is what I try and counsel people I am working with on their own homes and it is so fun to bring the best of the past and present to life in new ways.

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