This American Four Square was built in 1910 on a 10-acre lot just outside Granville, Ohio. When the house was purchased in 2007 by Dr. Miller, it had no working plumbing, no heat, and several broken windows. Dr. Miller requested that we restore the character of the home while updating the interior for modern living.
In order to maintain the integrity of an American Four Square, she requested we replace the deteriorated side porch and kitchenette with a new side entry containing full bathroom, broom and coat closets. We reorganized the existing interior space to accommodate a masonry fireplace in the living room, an alcove for her vintage crank wall phone, built-in storage hiding behind paneling in the dining room and modern kitchen conveniences surrounded by hand-built arts-and-crafts cabinets.
Our client appreciated the farmhouse’s proximity to the road, but wanted the interior of the house to invite visitors to peer out the back windows and across to the distant creek. First, we reconfigured the staircase to meet current building codes and to increase the distance from the rise to the relatively low ceiling at the bottom. Next, we selected a pass-through landing bracketed by double glass doors encouraging visitors to move easily from entry to kitchen through the back of the house. The staircase itself is surrounded by period paneling, rendering a door to the cellar nearly invisible. Passageways between both the living and dining and between dining and kitchen were widened to open up the house. Space needed for duct work and plumbing were integrated into corners and invited the building of intricate storage space. 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 accommodate large numbers when the friends and neighbors crowd in to volunteer. 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 in to electrical outlets on the ends of the soapstone island.
The previous entry addition was not salvageable, so we used this opportunity to add modern conveniences. Most American Four Squares 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. 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 thickening used now for the storage of books and DVDs. The entry room, then, can double as a den when formality requires use of the front door, and the house is overflowing with friends and family at Christmas time.
Location: Granville, Ohio