Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dear Rose

Use Space Effectively to Add More Room to Older Homes

Q: We are appalled to find ourselves living in a neighborhood of tear-downs. Our house — like many of those being razed — was built a half-century ago when the area was working class.

We also need more living space, but can't decide how to add it. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Arm yourself with a good architect. He or she can survey your options and make professional recommendations on how to best enhance your specific property.

Meanwhile, you're to be congratulated for standing firm in your "working-class" footprint. After the bloated size and embarrassing aesthetics of America's McMansion phase, we are rediscovering the truth — that less is indeed more.

Here's inspiration from the pages of a new book that celebrates the smaller, smarter home, "The Simple House" by architect Sarah Nettleton (The Taunton Press). Subtitled "The Luxury of Enough," her book shows why and how to think through one's space intelligently.

The pictured room is an addition to a small home similar to yours. Long and loft-like, the new space parallels the old, cascading through several activity areas down to the sitting room, which is on the same level as the outdoor garden. Architect Taal Safdie of Safdie Rabines orchestrated the addition so it connects the new and old house through open "windows" hung with shutters.

The long storage wall is as practical as it is attractive — with open shelves and closed cabinets under columns that define the stairway as they evoke a feeling of the out-of-doors.

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