All in the Family Room
A New Jersey farmhouse becomes a family-friendly home by bringing up the rear
(MONEY Magazine) – IT'S A PHRASE YOU HEAR OFTEN AS PEOPLE plan a renovation: "As long as we're doing..." Torben and Linda Winther found themselves uttering those words when, after 10 years in their Victorian farmhouse, they decided to redo their dark, water-damaged kitchen. The ensuing renovation creep resulted in the complete demolition of the back half of their five-bedroom, four-bath house. The kitchen, first- and second-floor sunrooms and porch were torn down to create a 471-square-foot kitchen-cum-family-room that opens up onto a 408-square-foot mahogany deck. "We realized it would be cheaper--one loan, one contractor, one construction period--to do all the work at once," says Linda. But the real payoff for the Winthers is surely their new light-filled great room, a place where the kids can do homework as Linda prepares a meal. That and the adjoining deck make indoor/outdoor entertaining for as many as 60 effortless.
Back it up To unify a hodgepodge of styles, the roofline of the 1896 house was modified. On the sides of the house, existing shingles were repaired and new ones replaced the old aluminum siding ($40,000). The slate roof had to go, but the Winthers chose a $20,000 asphalt look-alike, saving themselves $70,000. A roofed mahogany porch ($15,000) leads to a mudroom.
Open for leisure The kitchen's granite-topped island ($10,500) is perfectly positioned for watching either the TV ($2,300) or a roaring fire ($9,500). Built-in bookcases ($5,500) flank the hearth. Light floods into the room courtesy of six windows ($3,000). French doors ($2,600) lead to a mahogany deck that cost $20,000--a $5,000 savings vs. cedar, since that popular material has become more scarce.
BOUGHT IN 1995 FOR $280K
RENOVATION COSTS $650K
MARKET VALUE TODAY $1.35 million
WHERE IT WENT
Besides creating a family room, the Winthers enlarged a bedroom; added a bath, an office and a powder room; and renovated another bath.
Pam Makin of Burgdorff Realty says that "people like these late-1800s houses, but they want a family room, as families don't live like they used to."
Architect: Paul Sionas, Sionas Architecture, Montclair, N.J.; space planner: Claire McCreath, McCreath Studios; builder: Tony Wizner, ABA Home Remodelers Inc.; stylist: Aelana Walker