Natural Fit
Middlebury, VT

This project is a small addition to a well preserved 1960s prefab kit house. New spaces include an entry and mud room, kitchen, and covered outdoor space.  We and our clients really loved the character of the existing house and didn’t want the addition to detract from its pure forms.  And though we didn’t want our design to upstage the house, we wanted the addition to have an identity all its own, clearly different from the existing home.  After all, the two parts of the home are very different: The new portion is constructed using improved insulation methods, more efficient heating, and its spaces are more reflective of today’s ways of living.

The existing house’s entry was at the stair landing that split main living spaces below from upper bedrooms.  It was a too-small space ill suited to a family of four.  And, the old kitchen was cramped and isolated from other parts of the house. The owners were interested in re-routing the entry so that it could be made more roomy, and so that a mud room could be incorporated.  A new, open kitchen with room for kids and guests to socialize was important.  And a connection to the outdoors through windows and glassy doors was key to creating an open, flexible, airy and joyful space.  We took advantage of the elevation change between the entry and spaces below to make a welcoming transition into the heart of the house, which is now the new kitchen.  We used the new stair as a barrier to conceal closet space so that the living areas could be clutter-free and to act as dramatic threshold to the house.  The kitchen connects seamlessly from old to new, with windows strategically placed to frame views, lead the way, and bring more sunlight deep into the home.  The new kitchen is efficient and roomy without being overly big.  It is warm, comfortable, and makes it easy for two cooks and kids to circulate.   A single, wall-hung heat pump heats and cools the addition but is barely noticeable in its tucked-away spot within decorative shelving.

The materials palette mixes Japanese and Scandinavian influences with Vermont to create a fuss-free and timeless feel. Maintenance-free wood siding, a thermally modified cedar with grooves, differentiates old from new and adds warmth and texture. The same material carries inside on the finished ceiling.  Cabinetry is white oak; counter tops are white manufactured stone; and the floor is polished concrete, all low-maintenance.  Special details such as a built-in bench in the entry, recessed shelves, and coffee nook add function and hand-made touches.

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