This American FourSquare was built in 1910 on a 10-acre lot just northeast of Granville, Ohio. When the house was purchased from an auction in 2007, it had no working plumbing, no heat, and several broken windows. My client requested that we restore the character of the home while updating the interior for modern living.
My client appreciated the farmhouse’s proximity to the country road, but wanted the interior of the house to invite visitors to peer out the back windows and across to the distant creek. First, I reconfigured the staircase to meet current building codes and to increase the distance from the rise to what had been a relatively low ceiling at the bottom. The staircase itself is now surrounded by period paneling, rendering a door to the cellar nearly invisible.
Next, I selected a pass-through landing bracketed by double glass doors encouraging visitors to move easily from entry to kitchen to outside at the back. Passageways between both the living and dining and between dining and
kitchen were widened just a little to open up the interior of the house. Space needed for duct work and plumbing were integrated into corners and invited the building of intricate storage spaces. For example, stained glass windows the client already owned were then built in as windows to treasured antique games for the client’s grandchildren.
The kitchen was designed to function conveniently for a single cook yet immediately accommodates large numbers when the friends and neighbors volunteer to help. Consequently, one side of the kitchen houses the traditional “triangle” (sink, refrigerator, stove) keeping guests nearby but not in the traffic pattern. When dinner parties are in order, there is plenty of space for multiple sous-chefs to slice and dice, create a buffet, or set the dining room table.
All the cabinets were hand built by Amish craftsmen in quarter-sawn white oak; under-the-window counter space invites contemplating the menu; Cuisinarts and blenders can be plugged into electrical outlets on the ends of the soapstone island.
The previous entry addition, which was not salvageable, gave us an opportunity to add modern conveniences. For example, vintage American FourSquares did not have downstairs bathrooms, but modern living requires them. Additionally, a full-sized coat closet well within the doorway allows visitors to come all the way inside before disrobing. Finally, a smaller broom closet keeps the owner from having to drag vacuum cleaners up and down the stairs. The depth of the closets provided a thickened wall now used for the storage of family photos, books, and DVDs. The entry room, then, doubles as a den when formality begs for the use of the front door, and the house is overflowing with friends and family at Christmas time.
Location: Granville, OH, US
My Role: Designer