TYPICALLY, CARL SOLANDER’S CLIENTS come to him with requests for specific spaces: a primary bath remodel, a new kitchen, a mudroom addition. Erika and John Matosky had more elemental concerns. “They were about light and open space,” says Solander, principal of Reverse Architecture.
The couple, who traded their loft in Chelsea for a boxy 1,150-square-foot, three-bedroom on 2 acres in Wayland, hoped to capture the bright and airy atmosphere they were used to. “The house was a real dump, but if you squinted you could almost imagine it looking like the modern homes you see in the area,” John Matosky says.
After breaking the news that the house needed to be gutted to remedy issues such as rotted siding and lack of insulation, Solander started sketching. His 500-square-foot addition enlarged the now energy-efficient home, established smooth circulation, and flooded the entire place with sunlight.
The L-shaped addition nestles against the similarly shaped existing house. Because the addition is much taller than the original flat-roofed spaces, the high windows pull light into the merged areas. The primary bedroom, for instance, straddles new and old. The half of the room that falls in the old part of the house has an 8-foot-high ceiling, whereas the other half, where the bed is, has an angled ceiling that climbs to over 14 feet.
Solander applied the same concept to the main living space. The living room remained in place, its 8-foot ceiling intact. The new kitchen runs alongside it, with a roof that climbs up to 12 feet. Clerestory windows bring in additional morning light from the east. Opposite, the windows over the sink bring in late afternoon sun. “We don’t have a level ceiling anywhere in the house,” John says.
The long, narrow kitchen is designed for maximum utility. At one end, sliders open onto a courtyard-like deck that extends into the grassy backyard. Sky-high white cabinetry nearly disappears into the adjacent wall, providing ample, inconspicuous storage. A maple butcher block table can slide out of the island when the couple entertains.
Solander explains that maintaining the home’s foundation and wood framing, along with implementing energy-efficient materials and techniques, does more than minimize immediate carbon output. “This house is not just better insulated, it’s a place people want to preserve,” he says. “Making things last is sustainable.”
Architect: Reverse Architecture, reversearchitecture.com
Contractor: Fresh Start Contracting, freshstartcontracting.net
Structural Design: Armando Plata, 646-241-7707