The term “forever home” is often used to describe a house that portends to meet all of one’s current and future needs. Attaining such a residence often entails moving from one’s current home, leaving behind years of memories. We had the satisfaction of collaborating with a client to make their existing home into their forever home with smart adaptations that will allow them to age in place…in the house and neighborhood they love.
The site is challenging in that the front of the home is perched atop a steep incline, and the home is primarily entered via a more accessible alley in the back. Thus, the home has two “fronts.” The existing low-slung ranch/bungalow had suited this couple for many years. However, newly retired with more free time, the couple sought to create a more gracious home to enjoy entertaining indoors and out, hosting guests for extended stays, and exploring their artistic sides in a proper studio space. A successful project would be a home filled with natural light that allowed them to age in place. A “happy house.”
Inspiration for the design was found in the owners’ love of 1920s Arts & Crafts bungalows and bright colors. The existing home provided design cues, such as a porch with stucco columns and shallow arches that had been concealed by a previous renovation. Building upon that, we proposed to reconfigure the roof into a cross-gable to maximize interior space on the second floor while increasing the home’s contextuality with neighboring ones. A new primary bedroom suite with bathroom, his and hers closets, and a dressing room for the lady of the house were created. To maximizing versatility, the dressing room can also be utilized as a guest room. The balance of the second floor includes a hall bathroom and large office, gallery walls to display artwork, storage areas, and even some private meditation spaces with doors hidden behind bookcases.
A first-floor addition expanded the casual dining room into the rear garden and created a new art studio. To imbue the middle of the house with light, skylights were introduced over the existing stair; new screened stairwells, inspired by the work of Louis Sullivan, filter the natural light.
Acknowledging practical issues of aging in place, all openings were designed to allow easy passage by a wheelchair, and bathroom accommodations include grab bars and roll-in showers. Additionally, a small first floor bathroom was expanded and, along with an adjacent bedroom, will allow for single floor living if necessary.
Exterior detailing was again influenced by the Arts & Crafts tradition: deep overhangs, brackets, and tapered columns. New cedar shingles were installed, the original porch restored, and the low arch motif was re-introduced into the design. A new garden of native plantings with an outdoor room anchors the house in the landscape.
While one never truly know what the future holds, creating their “forever home” gives the inhabitants peace of mind that they can live in this place that brings them joy and gives them comfort now and, in the days, to come.