If you had seen a photograph of today’s house before the owner/architect transformed it, you would have had great difficulty matching that image with the fantastic design its owner/architect created. This block of E. Chew is a one way street that ends at the St. Michaels Harbor and the streetscape is a mix of one to one and half story cottages enhanced by a landscape of mature trees. Over the past three years, I first drove past this house after meeting with two architectural clients I had in that area and I was fascinated to watch the construction progress of this extensive renovation. The owner/architect moved into the house five years ago and began the renovation three years later with the help of another contractor.
The existing house was a “plain vanilla” one-story rectangle with a low pitched roof. Demolition began by removing the roof framing from most of the house and the new dramatic roof form took shape with three steeply pitched intersecting gables at the front, side and rear of the house. On the fourth side, the existing one-story footprint remained but new roof framing was added over the existing roofing to match the new pitch that created a telescope effect at the rear. The exterior elevations were carefully designed and meticulously constructed.
The front gable form was expanded over the existing covered porch on the main floor which created another porch above at the second floor. The front elevation is a masterful interplay of open and closed spaces with the lower and upper porches overlapping horizontally and balanced by the shake siding of the first floor wall, part of which extends up to become the center part of the upper porch railing flanked by steel mesh panels with Ipe rails. This center solid railing portion also breaks the double cornice at the front wall below the upper porch that does double duty as the eave return and window header trim finished in the dark gray-blue trim color. The vertical symmetry of the second floor porch’s triple glass doors centered under the gable and aligned with the center panel of the upper rail above the first floor window below completes the design. The craftsman detailing of cedar shake shingle siding that will weather over time in contrast with the dark blue-gray roofing and trim creates outstanding curb appeal.
My favorite details are the convex side walls of the second floor porch that meet the second floor exterior wall that is the backdrop for the upper porch. I also admired how the front and side gables’ eave returns meet at the front corner of the house above the corner windows and how the new second entry off the driveway is relocated at the landing of the stairs to the second floor for equal access to both floors. This entry wall has three square accent windows in a triangular shape over the door that provide daylight to the second floor master suite dressing room. The same eave detail is repeated at the intersection of the side/rear gables. Under the peak of the rear gable are sliding doors off the master suite bathroom leading to a deck over the first floor porch that opens into the first floor dining room.
The front entry door was an architectural salvage treasure and leads to the side foyer off the living room with a vista to the dining room at the rear. On either side of the living room are bedrooms at the front corners of the house. The “U” shaped kitchen’s tones of gray finishes with darker base cabinets, lighter countertops and upper cabinets with the stainless steel appliances create a serene look for this owner/architect who is a serious cook. In warm weather he holds court at his outdoor kitchen with its stylish contemporary single slope roof attached to the outbuilding that also contains an office and one-car garage.
At the upper stair landing there is a nook for display of items from the owner’s collection. French doors that are another architectural salvage treasure lead to the master suite with a vista to a large alcove with a coffee bar at one end and a workstation for the architect at the opposite end between the sliding doors to the porch. The master bedroom is offset from the alcove and its interior architecture is formed by the knee walls on each side of sloped ceilings that meet at the underside of the collar beam above. Two lights are centered over the bed and the detail of three square accent windows is repeated but here they step down the wall for a striking effect. Paneled bulkheads at each knee wall cleverly hide the HVAC supply ducts that results in deep recesses for storage and display. The master bath features a tiled floor, walk-in shower and the lavatory cabinet has a mirrored wall above to expand the space. The lower portion of the sliding doors leading to the deck have a translucent finish for privacy that emits a soft light within. From the deck you can see the harbor in the distance.
Bravo! The talented owner/architect’s design skills are equally matched with his extensive construction experience illustrated by the carefully thought out details. He has certainly set the bar for the remaining E. Chew houses that have not yet been renovated!
For more information about this property, contact Dave Parker at 410-310-2033 (c) or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more projects by Dave Parker or to schedule a consultation, visit www.daveparkerfinehomes.com. Photography by the owner and the author.
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.
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