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For Ralph and Shamita Etienne-Cummings, the suburbs have extensive held a specific allure — primarily given that 2010, when their son, Blaze, was born and Mr. Etienne-Cummings’s mother moved into their 1876 rowhouse in Washington, D.C.
“Space became a lot more of a premium,” Ms. Etienne-Cummings claimed. Her husband, she described, is “from Seychelles I’m from India. Culturally, we always have household that life with us.”
But the rewards of residing outdoors the metropolis — having a huge yard and a more substantial property — couldn’t contend with benefit of their life in Washington’s Logan Circle community, on a blocklong road coveted for its historic households and central locale.
Credit…Jennifer Chase for The New York Periods
“Our son grew up walking just about everywhere with his grandmother,” said Ms. Etienne-Cummings, 52, a law firm. “We seriously desired to stay in our neighborhood, but absolutely needed extra room, and that was challenging to do in an area which is by now loaded up.”
In a stroke of luck, the rowhouse following door came on the market place in 2016, and they were equipped to obtain it for $1.4 million, building an unusual option to broaden laterally and maximize their whole residing area to all-around 7,000 square feet.
Their strategy was to merge the two homes into a cohesive total, with light, open areas for entertaining. But they knew it wouldn’t be quick.
The dwelling following door was a bit more mature, and neither of the road-experiencing facades could be altered, many thanks to demanding preservation guidelines. Also, the added house that came with it — slightly more than 2,100 sq. toes — was on flooring that did not align with all those in the couple’s recent dwelling.
“The houses are more than a century previous,” reported V.W. Fowlkes, a principal at Fowlkes Studio, the architecture organization the few employed. “And the joists buried in just the flooring plates are traditionally protected. We experienced to do some negotiating with the metropolis about how to be part of the households, and be even handed about how the structures had been heading to be altered.”
Still, he mentioned, “We ended up extremely fired up by the design and style obstacle.”
One particular impediment that promptly offered alone was a brick wall dividing the two residences, which couldn’t be taken off. So the architects preserved it less than drywall and utilised it to anchor a present day glass-and-metal staircase with white-oak treads, illuminated by 4 skylights overhead.
“We wanted to have a monumental, gentle-drenched stair that could connect the 3 concentrations,” Mr. Fowlkes explained.
A intricate engineering feat, it is 1 of the most striking characteristics of the layout — and 1 of the most high priced. The staircase needed “a good deal of male hours and redesign,” mentioned Mr. Etienne-Cummings, 54, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Whiting Faculty of Engineering, who described the six-figure price tag as “the biggest one rate-shock of the develop.”
Surrounding the staircase are open, only furnished spaces decorated in relaxing neutrals — a serene, cocoon-like surroundings that Ms. Etienne-Cummings explained as “almost minimalist without having currently being too severe.”
With just a handful of important parts, together with a fashionable sofa upholstered in wool and a disguise rug, the dwelling space is rather spare. A hearth adorned with handmade zellige tile and completed in Venetian plaster serves as a focal stage.
“It’s modern-day, but functional,” Ms. Etienne-Cummings mentioned of the place.
The dining home is pared down as properly, with a customized-built table that has a reside-edge walnut leading and bronze legs in a pewter end. A sensitive light-weight fixture of black metallic arcs with brass heads dangles earlier mentioned.
To produce a correct entry, which the couple’s unique residence lacked simply because of its slim footprint, the architects erected a wall separating the entrance from the dwelling space. Painted a deep grey and illuminated by a halo-like chandelier, it is the only dark room in the house.
“We preferred to have a minimal more ceremony associated with the entry,” Mr. Fowlkes mentioned. “The entry working experience is moody, until finally you flip the corner and the home kind of explodes.”
The again of the dwelling — exactly where the kitchen and an elevated mudroom are — allowed for more versatility in design, such as an addition on a person side, to develop a perception of symmetry, and the set up of extra home windows.
The kitchen, which now has bleached-walnut cupboards with bronze hardware and a 12-foot-lengthy waterfall island clad in Caesarstone, “has truly turn into the focal stage about which our loved ones engages,” Ms. Etienne-Cummings reported. “Ralph is the chef, and on most Sundays he’ll cook dinner, and we sit all-around and chat.”
In a minimal feat of engineering, the architects suspended a 500-pound vary hood sheathed in quartz from the ceiling, full with a customized metal armature to assistance the stone panels. “That vary hood will continue being there endlessly,” Mr. Fowlkes mentioned.
All in, the renovation price about $2.2 million, but as much as Mr. Etienne-Cummings is concerned, it was worth it. “There’s a great deal of hustle and bustle in our life,” he mentioned. “It’s awesome to occur into a area and experience like every thing is uncomplicated and fits like a glove.”
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