Spy House of the Week: Accessory Structure Transformation


It’s easy to be charmed by a diminutive scale and Easton’s Historic District contains many former carriage houses, garden sheds and other accessory structures that complement the main houses and enrich the streetscapes. On one of my drives through town, the pristine whiteness of this accessory structure caught my eye. The simple craftsman detailing, lap siding topped with a slight projection of scalloped siding at the top of the gabled roof to give a shadow line to the elevation made it irresistible. My first thought was it was now a garage but after further investigation I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that it was actually a guest house for very lucky guests.

The building was originally a carriage house with a dirt floor and wood framing and was probably built in the early 1900’s. The transformation began with the building being moved closer to the street and placed atop a new foundation of concrete masonry units, a concrete floor slab for the first floor and new wood framing for the loft. The house’s street elevation remained the same with the original carriage doors with high windows and a window in the former attic. The doors would no longer be operable but the historic character remained.

I loved the new side entrance through a mews with a vista to the Owners’ rear lawn and a new pendant “hat” fixture identified the front door. The mews was paved with brick to complement the adjacent building’s brick chimney and the brick paving on the driveway. The brick paving wrapped around the rear elevation to expand into a spacious brick terrace shaded by mature trees. A trio of windows and an upper window made a wonderful composition for the rear elevation.

The main floor contained only 236 sf and the loft bedroom contained only 130 sf but the spaces seemed larger due to sunlight from the careful arrangement of windows and just the right number of furnishings. The sitting room that spanned the rear of the house had the trio of windows at the rear wall, the side window, the French style entry door on the other side and the upper window of the original carriage door at the street side for sunlight. The compact kitchen with stainless steel under cabinet fridge and white cabinets stood out between the stair alcove with blue walls and the bath with sage green floor to ceiling tile. Open shelving above the kitchen base cabinets kept the room’s open feel.

I loved the interior design that reflected the Owners’ exquisite taste, especially the Peruvian rugs. I easily imagined reclining on the divan in the corner of the sitting room under the windows with the views of the lawn and reading a book.

The circular stairwell does double duty as a music corner and art gallery that leads to the loft bedroom. The pitched ceiling, eave walls painted light periwinkle and warm hardwood floors was a restful retreat. The macramé window covering was a deft touch that let light in while ensuring privacy.

Good things do come in small packages. This tiny house seemed simple but the challenges faced by Charles Goebel, architect and Jim Sebastian, contractor, during the design process were not. Juggling code conformance for room sizes, ceiling heights, clearances, etc., were quite challenging but they both were perfect partners to transform this former carriage house into a White Swan.


Architecture by Charles Paul Goebel, Architect, Ltd, 410-820-9176, chas@cpgoebel.com, www.cpgoebel.com. Construction by Alchemyworks Inc, 410-693-0949, jim@alchemy-works.net, www.alchemy-works@verizon.net.

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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