Case Study: Total Home Renewal
This tired, single-story brick rambler was transformed into a warm, yet contemporary family-friendly home with an open feel, natural materials and an integral connection to the outdoors. The existing structure was enhanced with a new second floor to include two bedrooms and a bath, a dramatic Great Room addition with expansive windows, a new Kitchen/Butler's Pantry open to the Great Room, front porch, screened porch and large deck integrated into the landscape of rear yard. The highlight of the project is the Great Room rear wall, which blends engineered stone, finely crafted maple trim and a wood burning fireplace with a wall of glass, allowing for a seamless connection with the outdoors.
The homeowners desired a wall of glass at the rear wall of their Great Room addition which gave a clean, contemporary feel to the space, provided a dramatic focal point and gave them an integral connection to the outdoors. Because of the current code regarding wind bracing, conventional framing was not an option in creating this feature. The challenge was to incorporate steel into a residential application to achieve the desired end result. In addition, the flue of the wood burning fireplace needed to be located on the exterior of the house in order to stay in keeping with the harmonious rhythm of the dramatic design. The flue also needed to work in concert with the special roof overhang designed to alleviate solar heat gain, which created a challenging condition where the the flue penetrated the roof at the peak. Lastly, a large tree, which the environmentally conscious homeowners treasured, was very close to the addition and would need to be integrated into the deck. With the tree's root system so close to the foundation, carefully planned footings and steel beams would need to be employed to support the addition and deck/screened porch and not compromise the the root system of the tree.
For the dramatic rear wall, a steel portal frame was designed and custom fabricated to provide structural integrity and allow for maximum glass across the rear end of the addition. A 'P' shaped section of steel was combined with an 'L' shaped section to create a rigid frame for the rear wall, which incorporates a low steel beam that branches off to allow a clear span for the exterior deck load and also clears the root system of the tree. The flue for the wood burning fireplace was powder coated in black and carefully threaded through the roof overhang area. Custom metal pieces were fabricated matching the peak of the roof as well as the flue diameter and serve as stand-offs for the flue. The deck boards were installed surrounding the tree to allow for trimming as the tree grows. In addition, ceilings on the main level were raised to 9'-0" in the main living areas to convey a more open feel.
With innovative thinking and creative design, the dramatic rear wall exceeded the structural and aesthetic requirements of the homeowners program. Its blend of beautiful stained maple trim and large expanses of glass mixed together with the rich, textural stone of the fireplace (which appears to continue through the exterior wall), create a seamless integration with the outdoor space. The special steel framework of the rear wall allows the integrity of the structure to work in harmony with the aesthetic wishes of the homeowner. The design of the windows is repeated in the rhythm of the screened porch panels, adding a cohesive feel to the exterior. Dramatic lighting enhances the design by highlighting the natural materials and adding warmth to the space. The end result is a contemporary, yet warm environment which provides open space, light and drama with a deep, meaningful connection with the outdoors.