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A 1938 Colonial Revival is expanded and updated.

Project: Colonial Revival Residence, Needham, MA

Architect: Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc., Wellesley, MA; Jan Gleysteen, AIA, principal; Chris Russ, project architect

General Contractor: Kells Construction, Milton, MA

Landscape Designer: Thomas Wilhelm Landscape Design, Boston, MA

By Will Holloway

When it comes to renovating and expanding historic houses, Jan Gleysteen, AIA, of Wellesley, MA-based Jan Gleysteen Architects, says that his firm's philosophy is to take the massing and details of the original structure and expand upon them. This approach was recently put to use in the Boston suburb of Needham, where Gleysteen Architects orchestrated the sympathetic transformation of a late-1930s Colonial Revival. "For example, we designed gabled additions to the original gable house, not an alternate roof shape," he says. "In this and other projects, we like to add or embellish details that are typical of the period or house style to 'time up' the aesthetics for a better overall look."

Aside from a few small renovations, the 1938 Colonial Revival had undergone little work over the years. As the majority of the house was original, it fit in nicely with its surroundings, a quiet, tree-lined boulevard street in a suburban community near the local school and commuter rail station. Since the clients' goals were to maintain the original character of the home while providing modern conveniences, neighborhood and regional context played heavily into Gleysteen Architects' design.

The original house totaled just over 3,000 sq.ft. of formal living space. Upon entry, the foyer opened to the dining room to the left, the living room to the right, and a hallway led to the library and kitchen to the rear. A two-bay garage and small screened porch were situated on either end of the house. Access to the rear yard could only be gained through a small laundry room off the kitchen. The second floor included four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a den above the garage.

The recent additions brought the house to just over 5,340 sq.ft. By designing four distinct additions, each having a massing and location deferential to the original house, Gleysteen Architects was able to retain the historic character and small scale of the original structure. The new family-room addition is double-stacked behind the main massing and is balanced by the new kitchen wing. The kitchen wing addition includes a breakfast room to the rear and a master bedroom suite above. The expanded garage is balanced by the expanded and converted four-season sunroom on the opposite site of the house. A new butler's pantry and mudroom, which leads to the garage, now occupy the former kitchen space.

The new family room is both the visual and functional center of the house. It connects the new kitchen and existing formal living room, and also opens to the new rear terrace and garden.

The double-height family-room space is anchored by a central stone fireplace with an inlaid medallion, and the cathedral ceiling features unadorned arches. Throughout the house, new trim work links the new and old spaces.

On the exterior, the street façade retains its historic character. The original elliptical arch and leaded glass of the front entry are now the focal point, thanks to a new columned portico. New windows, trim and shutters are complemented by clapboard siding and brick gable-wall ends, which evoke New England homes of the late-18th and early-19th centuries.

"The core design solution was arrived at during the first design consultation," says Gleysteen. "We began by keeping the main wing of the older home, with its low ceilings and historic details, and added four wings of varying sizes in a 'pinwheel' fashion."

Key suppliers for the project included: CertainTeed (roofing); Fypon (exterior trim); Kohler, Waterworks and Sigma (bathroom fixtures); Kolbe Windows & Doors (windows); Charles River Door Works (garage doors); Carlisle Wide Plank Floors (hardwood flooring); and Benjamin Moore (paints and stains).

"The client is very pleased with the end result, which is a much more functional space for a growing family while keeping the exterior of the house comparable with the historic neighborhood," says Gleysteen.  



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