Vinyl cladding once hid the original beveled wood siding on this American foursquare. This style of house was built throughout the country between 1890 and the 1930s. Its boxy proportions yielded four main rooms on each level, a plan that was practical for construction on city lots, such as this narrow yet deep site in the Ashton Heights neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia.
The owners of the 1910 wood frame house, Joanne and Kevin Sweeney, decided to renovate and expand it to meet the needs of their family of six. The generous depth of the lot enabled their architects, Gregory Wiedemann and Felix Gonzalez of Wiedemann Architects in Bethesda, Maryland, to design the spacious two-story addition that was built at the rear. It’s the accomplished manner in which the addition preserves the original appearance of the house from the street, while providing the needed living space, that elevates this home to winning status. The renovation highlights the character and integrity of the historic home. The addition substantially expands it and adds modern conveniences.
The new portion of the first floor holds a kitchen, family room, and dining area; a master bedroom suite and sitting room occupy the second floor. Each of the existing rooms also underwent renovation, including the original attic which was converted into a fifth bedroom/office. The work took 18 months to complete.
To differentiate between the old and new construction, Gregory and Felix varied some of the surface finishes and design details. Beside the exterior door to the kitchen, wall areas are surfaced in pebble dash (a masonry technique in which pebbles are broadcast onto wet stucco). Also, the addition is clad with lap siding that’s wider than the material used on the original house. The new portion is oriented so that there’s space for a side terrace beneath the massive oak trees preserved during construction. To return the exterior to its original look, the vinyl cladding was removed and siding that was typical of foursquares was applied.
"Best Renovation & Addition- Polishing an Urban Gem" is from the October 2008 issue of Southern Living.