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Symmetrical exterior detailing gives this residence a grand presence while the reinvented interiors optimise views and lifestyle

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Sometimes a house with a grand stature and excellent bones can be under-represented by a lack of architectural detailing – much as a haute couture gown might require the addition of fine jewelry to set off its flowing lines.

This was the case when architect Stuart Silk was asked to give a substantial four-storey house a complete makeover inside and out. Originally, the exterior had a slightly stolid look, and the clients wished to introduce layers of detailing to bring an added sense of refinement to the house, says Silk.

"Among the new elements we brought in were six copper-clad dormers that dramatically altered the roofline and allowed light to flood into the master suite on the top level. We also lengthened the eaves on the roof and gave them a classic upturn that acts as a flourish," says Silk. "In addition, we replaced the wooden roof with more appropriate slate roofing."

The facade was also enhanced by the use of architectural detailing. For example, an elliptical entrance portico, carved in Indiana limestone, brings a level of formality to the frontage.

"A number of windows were introduced to open up the house to the lake views – including a central window above the portico," says Silk. "Eight-inch precast concrete casings were built to accentuate the windows and doors."

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Each of the second-storey bedrooms now has tall external double doors with traditional leaded glass mullions. These doors have also been fitted with custom-designed narrow stiles and rails. The vertical nature of these elements redresses the proportions of the overall design, making the house seem less boxy and more refined, says the architect.

"To complete the decorative appeal, the symmetrically placed bedrooms were adorned with Juliet balconies, featuring custom-designed wrought iron railings," says Silk. "The ornate ironwork contrasts the linear windows."

"On the inside, we introduced a family room on the first floor – bringing in more natural light and improving connections to the lake views," says Silk. "Most of the rooms, however, still occupy roughly the same areas, but each has been reshaped."

The open volumes have a modern look, but the old-world mouldings, together with the wall panels, mean a traditional sensibility dominates the spaces.

With most of the existing rooms stripped back to the joists, Silk introduced a richly detailed wood paneling system. The classic panels build on the formal style of the residence and help accentuate the scale of the interiors.

"Some changes to the interiors were subtle, but others were quite dramatic," says Silk. "For instance, we relocated the openings into the entry and living room to optimize a sense of arrival and pedestrian flow. In the living area we added sets of large French doors that contributed to the outlooks and created an easy connection to the landscaped gardens."

Arches were replaced with clean-lined expansive openings that let in much more light and provide sightlines across the rooms.

"The new family room has tall windows on all its exterior walls and extends beyond the existing floorplate. This addition lends space to the already large dining area behind."

The doorway into the adjacent kitchen was also relocated and widened, says the architect.

"The original kitchen was cramped and oppressive, and has now been replaced with a lighter, more airy workspace, reoriented to take in views in two directions.

"On the first floor, all four bedrooms were subtly reconfigured, with new bathrooms and closets," says Silk. "On the top floor, the new symmetrical master suite benefits from the inclusion of the six roof dormers – which make it a cool, light-filled retreat."

First published date: 16 October 2012

Credit List

Architect Design principal Stuart Silk AIA, Stuart Silk Architects (Seattle, WA)
Interior designer Timothy Thomas, Timothy Thomas Design
Kitchen designer Stuart Silk Architects
Landscape architect Richard Hartladge, AHBL
Contractor Schuchart/Dow
Structural engineer Dan Fenton, Quantum Consulting Engineers
Siding Existing brick, salvaged and relaid by Hewitt Masonry
Roofing Natural slate by American Slate Company, with slate and copper gutters and flashings
Doors and windows Alaskan-grade yellow cedar from Dynamic Windows and Doors
Flooring White oak with custom stain, in Versailles pattern, supplied and installed by Eurocraft Floors
Paints and varnishes Benjamin Moore
Lighting Wall sconces in gold leaf from Murray Iron Works
Heating Weil-McLain boiler; Lifebreath heat recovery ventilation; hydronic and electric mat infloor heating; radiators
Furniture Madison Park Interiors
Blinds Bartlett Blinds, Calvin linen Cabinet
Company Abodian
Countertop and backsplash Calacatta marble by Fairweather Stone Works
Kitchen sink Calacatta by Modern Granite
Oven, ventilation Viking