Four Remodels That Will Inspire You
Need a change? Have a look at these masterful makeovers.
Once their two children were grown and had emptied the proverbial nest, Ralph and Katherine Oser could no longer ignore the problems that afflicted their late-’70s “contemporary” home in Highland Park-Overlee Knolls, which they had purchased from its builder in 1980.
“We thought it was wonderful when we first bought it, but it was poorly executed on the inside,” says Katherine, a retired financial adviser. Myriad leaks, drafty windows and a cramped, choppy layout were among the major complaints—but the home’s location wasn’t one of them. “We did not consider going anywhere but here,” she says of their close-knit neighborhood. A total gut-renovation and addition were in order.
“They liked modern, but they didn’t want to move to a big, sprawling house,” says Falls Church architect Luther Weber, whom the Osers hired to orchestrate a redesign in 2007. The couple wanted a home that was more energy efficient and environmentally friendly (Ralph was formerly with the Department of Energy), with a floor plan that was spacious and light. They also sought an option for first-floor living. “They wanted to age in place, and make it more enjoyable,” Weber says.
Today, a south-facing rear addition encloses a new kitchen, dining and living area with a master suite above. Angled louvers extend over each level, shading the windows from the high summer sun while allowing warming rays to enter the house in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky. This “passive” solar design is highly energy efficient, Weber explains, in that it plays along with the sun’s natural position rather than relying on extra heating and air conditioning to fight against it.
Rooftop solar panels now power the home’s hot water needs, and the original fireplace was traded for two efficient gas-burning units that help to recirculate warm air in cooler months.