by Richard Connolly
It was their perfect older house in their perfect older neighborhood – ten years ago.
The two story, seven room Colonial then became the new home of a younger and expecting South Shore couple who soon settled in.
With the addition of each new child, the house became less ideal. While the two girls, ages 10 and 4, shared the same room, the eight-year old boy had his own to himself.
Rivalries and resentments inevitably followed.
On the second floor, the only bath became congested early each morning as family members competed to start the day. Privacy became an issue for children and parents alike.
When company was being entertained, guests congregated in one area because the rooms on the first floor all dead ended. To get to the family room, for example, one had to go down a long hall. Once in the large living room, the only way out was in.
Traffic flow was poor, and something had to be done.
The family solved these problems and several more recently by completing a new second story master bedroom suite with bathroom, a kitchen addition, family room rehab, screened porch, deck, and enlarged patio. The mother of the household headed the project.
The new first floor plans created a circular flow of traffic, and each room is now easily accessible to any other. The outside was brought inside with large windows in the kitchen, family room, and master bedroom.
New sliders in the rear of the living room and kitchen had the same effect and also provided a bee line to the outside play gym, in ground pool, and deck.
The kitchen was completely gutted, wired, and plumbed. The maple cabinets were installed with an island, see – through upper wall cabinets, and new appliances. Recessed lights were added for practical reasons and effect.
The island was an instant hit with the children. After school snacks seemed like more fun when sitting on a stool and leaning on the counter. Family meals with all five members are now enjoyed in comfort in the eat-in section of the extended kitchen.
The screened porch was an instant hit with the parents. With the addition of glass panels, they extended the useful season of the porch from very early spring to very late Fall. Friends and other family members also enjoy it.
The original heating system was replaced with a newer, more efficient unit. A complete upgrade of the electrical system was also done.
Foundations were required under the kitchen extension on one side of the house and the enclosed porch on the other. The existing family room in the rear remained in place, its roof removed, before the master bedroom was built above it and both extensions.
The parent’s bedroom suite with cathedral ceiling provided the much longed for privacy they had sought. Two large closets with organizers were installed in one wing of the bedroom. A previous walk-in closet became a passageway with closets on either side. All were quickly filled.
Light poured into the master bath from a skylight installed into its cathedral ceiling. The shower stall and double vanity worked for the parents exactly as planned.
The common bath soon became the children’s domain and also had a newly installed skylight to replace the rear window that had been removed. A large medicine cabinet replaced the window and eliminated the need for matching out and installing new wall tile.
In the rear of the previous master bedroom a hallway was created for access to the new master and the old. That bedroom, still the largest of the original three, was occupied, naturally, by the ten-year old girl. Her little sister was pleased to remain in her own room.
When the master bedroom was added to the rear of the house, a window in the eight-year boy’s room was enclosed. A skylight with a shaft was installed to let in light and strategically placed over his bed to allow him to see the stars at night or the rain falling on the glass. The early morning sun did not seem to matter.
In each of the girls’ rooms closet organizers were optimistically installed. Like their mother’s, the closets were filled in no time but with a disproportionate mix of clothes and toys.
Random length red oak floors were installed in the master bedroom, kitchen, eat-in area, family room, and living room extension. All the remaining oak floors were refinished.
The serious work took approximately six months to complete – from Spring to Fall – with considerable disruption to the whole family, although no one seemed to mind.
While the painter was working, the obstreperous pre-school girl fluttered about like a moth in a mitten. He put her to work rinsing the sponge, finding the caulking gun, or touching up the walls. For each request he crafted a jingle: “Sponge girl, sponge girl, you’re too quick. Use less water, that’s the trick!” She loved it.
The next day, the little girl slyly showed the painter every minor imperfection in the walls. She then touched them up and looked for more, until a better offer from her mother came along.
To coordinate all the colors of virtually every room in the house, an interior designer was hired. All the bedrooms were painted to pick up the colors of quilts the mother of the household had meticulously made by hand over the years for the children and herself.
The result was spectacular and, like the family, warm and inviting.
Each bedroom was graced with the mother’s special gift. The master bedroom showed a hand tied quilt called, “Trip Around The World,” with prairie point binding covering the bed.
In the children’s rooms, the oldest displayed the “Log Cabin,” which was hand stitched and quilted with regular bias binding. The boy prized his “Railroad Crossing” scrap quilt, which was hand tied with prairie point binding.
Not to be outdone, the sponge girl showed her crib size, pinwheel quilt, which was hand tied with regular bias binding. Doubtless, the quilts will offer warm thoughts for cool nights.
Family life has settled down to its normal, hectic pace. The children are off to school and numerous after school activities; the father to his work. The mother of the house is working on other projects.
On one point they all agree: the house is once again perfect. The total cost of construction was $100,000, all according to plan.