Starter Home to Forever Home

Dear Homework,
We love our Kirkwood neighborhood and the updated interior of our home. As our family grows, though, we fantasize about adding a second story to our otherwise rather uninteresting house. How can this be done without overwhelming the house and neighborhood? We imagine adding two bedrooms, a bathroom and a playroom. We are drawn to charming, traditional, unpretentious styles that fit the Kirkwood vibe. Can you come up with a house we could love?
— Starter Home to Forever Home

Dear Starter Home to Forever Home,

This type of late ’50s ranch was built by the thousands throughout St. Louis, and occasionally you see them enlarged with a clumsy, box-like second story. While that sort of straightforward approach can be very economical, I doubt it will result in a charming ‘house you could love.’

Instead, I would treat the second floor like a story and a half with a lower roofline and several dormer windows. This will help it fit the neighborhood and cast lots of delightful shadows across the façade. A projecting gable with a transom double window would be the location of the playroom, giving the composition a necessary dominant element.

Dozens of other smaller details such as a new garage door, porch with copper roof, chimney and Juliet balcony layer the façade with elements that impart a ’20s feel. New Hardie board siding in both clapboard and cedar shake gives a truly quality impression.

You also will note that the current, somewhat wild landscaping has been tamed only a little because it lends a cottage feel to the property.

This approach could prove expensive, but it shows that something handsome can be created from the humblest starting point.

That was a fun one,
— Homework

Homework is penned by Paul Doerner, founding partner of The Lawrence Group. If you would like your home critiqued, contact us at homework@townandstyle.com.