Dodge Street House

Dodge St., North Beverly, MA

To be clear – this Google SketchUp model is a study of some of the interior spaces – not a rendering of a Bauhaus style gut renovation. The house is a lovely ‘Stick Victorian’ in North Beverly, MA that the owners requested generating some options on making major improvements to a kitchen, rear porch, stairway, a pair of 3/4 baths, and a number of other modifications – including potential garage options. Thankfully, a number of the first floor spaces need no work, as they have not been renovated / modified in a few generations – but the kitchen and bathrooms have been heavily modified / mangled. From fluorescent lighting to commercial looking drop ceilings – the baby is indeed getting thrown out with the bathwater here.

The house is an average sized Victorian – which means it’s pretty big, but is laid out well and has a number of fantastic details and features. The yard, the overall character, the huge, high ceiling basement (now a pro-level equipped bike service area for the owners) as well as the 2nd floor private spaces round out a great house. The Kitchen is buried and boxed in on all four sides with interior walls, though the small window over the sink gets some light from the later-added-on sun-porch. To say it’s rather dark and depressing is an understatement. The two adjoining porches, an adjacent bathroom, and anything in the vicinity were fair game – and all came up on the drafting board ‘chopping block’.

The key was to get some of that great south and east sunlight from the rear yard end of the property, and organize circulation, function, and the desired design features into a cohesive plan. Extruding the work area up to the second floor in the existing rear stair / bathroom(s) spaces helped greatly at clarifying the plan, improving flow, and freed up space for a mud room area, a closet, and lot’s of open space and room for counters / cabinetry.

In looking at the various stuck-on porches and at the garage, it was clear that these areas ought to be dramatically redesigned – or lopped off / scraped clean. The option of leaving the existing garage intact but renovating its side / rear entry is there still – along with building a new garage out at the front / corner of the property – but we’ve as yet explored those options. In this “pass”, the garage has been re-located, the side entry area re-worked, and the interior completely re-arranged.

The solution at this point also offered a much needed, direct connection to the back yard – a valuable entertaining and relaxing resource this architect can attest to. A new rear stair to the second floor that has a more user friendly rise & run, and lets light in throughout has been shown here – and seemed to work out in terms of efficiency and function. The stair ‘landing’ in the kitchen is at the space that’s also circulation for the back door – thereby saving space and opening the room(s) up to each other. The new 1/2 bath, located at the center of the plan – as well the large coats area worked out well and kept easy access to the basement workshop. The side door / entry area opened up a good deal as well – making a visual connection between the spaces and smoothing out the circulation.

Google SketchUp View

The owners have been smart and communicative about what they desire, what they can realistically tackle, and how to go about it. When it turns into design development and eventually goes into construction, I’ll post up back here with the updates. I’m not a residential design whiz – but certainly enjoy the challenge of making these great old houses even better. With a chance to bring in more sunlight, tighten up the envelope, insulate to the maximum extent possible,  and to open up these cramped, odd spaces – the house (and the owners) will breathe easier.

Glen P. Gollrad
08 July 2011