Renovation of the Year
A 1970s center hall cottage enters the modern age
A sunny nook in the kitchen is furnished with a table and chairs by Abode. Pendant fixture by Robert Abbey.
The exterior was renovated through refinement and re-articulation of the cornice, fusing the dormer windows into a single clerestory, installing oversized, custom made double entry doors, and replacing the circular drive with a formal entry walkway.
In the world of home renovations, partial projects often turn into full-scale remodels. Such was the case when Leigh and Robby Moss decided to renovate their master bath and kitchen. After living in the house for six years, the Mosses called in their friend, Terri Dreyer of NANO Architects, to design the new spaces and soon realized that a more extensive renovation was necessary if they truly wanted to refresh their surroundings.
“When we first got into it, I didn’t even think I needed an architect,” says Leigh, who soon learned otherwise. “It was one of those things — you think you’re doing two rooms, but then it turned into every square inch of the house being redone. One room led to the next.”
Originally built in the 1970s, the center hall cottage has advantages the Mosses and their two sons, ages 15 and 12, love. Leigh grew up just six houses away. It’s located near family and friends and Country Day, where the boys go to school and Leigh works in admissions. It’s also built on a sizable lot with lots of outdoor space that already included a pool and pool house. But what once worked in the 1970s no longer felt right. Formal living and dining rooms were rarely used and the master bath was in need of an update.
The Mosses wanted the reboot to above all be functional for a family with teenage boys. With that in mind, Dreyer did a walk-through with the clients and envisioned a house that was lighter, less compartmentalized and more congenial. While the typical center hall cottage would have rooms on either side that open on to the center hall, the Mosses house did not.
“The problem was it had no opening to the center hall,” says Dreyer. “It felt somewhat stifling. There was no sense of direction once you went in.”
Outside, the house’s circular brick drive, two dormer windows and lackluster landscaping, felt heavy and past their prime.
Dreyer’s new plan was designed to be in step with today’s architecture and interiors trends and to use the square footage in a more efficient and contemporary way. On the first floor, she took down walls to create an open floorplan where living room, kitchen and great room merge, rather than a series of separate rooms that don’t get used. She also created a side entrance that functions as the service entrance and allows for a less formal living arrangement. The formal dining room became a mud room (outfitted with lockers for the boys’ gear) and a sitting room. A second dining area at the front of the house, used as a default catch-all room, became the formal dining room.
Upstairs, Dreyer re-appropriated some of the existing floorplan. A portion of the attic is now used for a closet, an expanded laundry room, a large playroom and office space, a plan made possible in part by bumping out the space between the dormer windows in front and back of the house.
The exterior of the house also was renewed. A huge cornice on the facade was dismantled and the dormers fused into a single clerestory with a cleaner look. With plenty of room to spare on the side of the house, the couple was able to eliminate the circular driveway and replace it with the new lawn and landscaping they wanted, create a new side driveway, and add the outdoor kitchen that Robby, a third-generation owner of Hartwig Moss Insurance, wanted for entertaining.
“Robby’s request for an outdoor kitchen was a big activator for the exterior space and how it tied together with the great room,” says Dreyer. Robby was especially involved in the design decisions for the outdoor kitchen and the master bath’s spa amenities, which are his favorite parts of the renovation.
In fact, Dreyer says that every one of NANO’s concepts is a team approach. That meant there were compromises along the way. While her initial design called for an open interior with columns, the Mosses wanted casement openings instead. Their desire for a washer and dryer in the master bath also factored into its final design, which is smaller than originally intended.
Though the footprint of the house is almost the same, heightened ceilings (the kitchen ceiling was raised and an A-frame ceiling was created in the playroom upstairs), blown out walls and increased light now make it feel larger.
“What was important is that it became more volumetric,” says Dreyer.
At the same time, as a cleaner, more concise version of its former self, the new iteration called for upgrading the home’s finishes and editing its décor. With fewer walls to place furniture and hang art, Leigh found that she needed to get rid of some things and use what she had more judiciously. She also worked with NANO to add a few new pieces.
Because of the understated simplicity of the main living areas, the Mosses were able to have fun with pattern (such as the master bath’s scallop pattern tiles) and pops of gemstone color, and to let art, much of it by Leigh’s late mother, Jane Victory Redmon, be a focal point.
“We’re so lucky our house is filled with her abstract work,” says Leigh. “She always said, ‘let the artwork make the statement.’”
Today, the homeowners, who admit to putting off a remodel because of the inconvenience, are glad they opted for a thorough renovation.
“The changes [NANO] made had a lot of impact,” says Leigh. “Now we use every inch of the house every day.”
A 14-foot stand-alone island made from Calcatta Borghini marble from The Stone Gallery is the centerpiece of the kitchen. Hubbardton Forge pendants over the island bring the color of the living area’s fireplace into the kitchen and blend with the veining in the marble. Kitchen cabinetry, by Legend Interiors; appliances, by Thermador.
A dining area which had become a catch-all space for the family became the new dining room. Chandelier, Julie Neill.
A built-in closet wall was created for Robby in the Mudroom. Cabinets by Legend Interiors.
The master bath includes scallop cement tiles by Clé Tile and a wet room with a steam feature and a soaking tub.
The new floor plan established an open flow between kitchen, great room and living room. The painting on the wall under the stairs and the three on the wall in the living room are by Leigh’s late mother, Jane Victory Redmon.
The great room is painted Pale Quartz by Farrell Calhoun and the tile around the fireplace is Ann Sacks. Painting by Jane Victory Redmon.
Because of the understated simplicity of the main living areas, the Mosses were able to have fun with pops of gemstone color and to let art be a focal point.
Robby’s favorite areas of the house are the outdoor kitchen and master bath’s wet room, while the boys favor the basketball goal on the side of the house.