Renovating the rear of their home gave this family a relaxing space to gather.

These days the kitchen and family room are the most important spaces in the home. When the two rooms are combined, it is a place everyone can enjoy.

In this 1920s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the petite kitchen and breakfast room were completely isolated from any other living space. The team from Muse Architects in Washington, D.C., designed a plan that seamlessly connected a new addition and succeeded in giving the owners the open space they desired.

Wish List

The project centered on a new kitchen-and-family room combination, half bath, and pantry on the main level. Additionally, the plan called for a primary bedroom, bath, and study upstairs.

The homeowners also stressed to the architect the importance of scale in regard to the new areas. The plan would increase the size of the home by 1,500 square feet, but they didn't want the rear elevation to overpower the original. By using gables to keep the roof and second floor from appearing massive, Stephen Muse and his talented team were able to create the look of a cozy addition.

Ancestral Ties

The gables allow bay windows in the family room and upstairs bedroom and bath. They also break down the scale of the two-story addition and give interest to the rear. When presented with the multigabled design, the owners commented that the facade strongly resembled that of the wife's family home in Greenwood, South Carolina. They gave Muse Architects a photograph of the historic residence to use as a guide.

The Outcome

"The new kitchen/family room provides a circulation loop from the existing rooms and opens to the garden beyond," says Stephen. Windows surround the spacious area on three sides, allowing natural light to spill into the room as well as connect the space to the outdoors.

Why It Won

Hands down, the link to the past made this home most appealing to our judges. The addition gives the house a large living space where the family can gather, and the twin gables harken back to family history.

"The appearance of the double, steeply pitched gables and broad porch make for a pleasing facade. The addition has greatly improved this home's rear elevation." Cynthia Stewart, AIA, ASID

"This is a well-designed addition that successfully fuses with the main house, particularly in the continued use of brick." David Barker, AIA