A modern family touches some history when it updates this old house.
(page 2 of 4)
The wish list included: an office for Alonso, a psychologist; open-air porches; and a master suite with ramped-up closet space. The flexibility to welcome extended family also was a priority, as Alonso’s mother went to live at the farmhouse during her final days.
On the exterior, the house was sheathed in vinyl siding, obscuring the original cedar clapboards. “I was jumping for joy inside when Terry said we have to get rid of that siding,” Carroccia recalls. “It was all wrong for the house.”
Much of the cedar was still in good shape, but removing layers of lead-based paint and repairing some sections was an expensive proposition. Tearing off the wood and replacing it with new cedar was more expensive still.
The compromise was Hardie planks, a composite material containing cement fiber that looks remarkably like wood and wears like iron. The planks were installed to reveal 4-inch sections of board, just as the original clapboards were.
“Watching the Amish workmen carrying the planks across the yard, it looked as if we were back in the 19th century when the house was built,” says Carroccia, whose plans for the house earned a 2010 Merit Design Award from the Delaware Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
An enclosed porch was a recent addition to the home. But the design was awkward, a jarring contrast to the clean lines of the main house. “The porch was my nemesis,” Alonso recalls. “It was a barnacle stuck to an otherwise pleasant farmhouse.”
To transform the porch into a space that is both functional and visually appealing required serious contemplation. With the potential for creating a private entrance, it was the logical place to site her office. Yet she wanted the flexibility to integrate the square footage into the rest of the house if she later decided to move her practice.
The solution was to design an accessible entrance, plus a waiting room, powder room, consultation room and secure storage for records. “Or it could just as easily be a mudroom, powder room and den,” Alonso says.
Hand-scraped pine floors were crafted by prisoners in Georgia. Moldings replicated to match the trim in the rest of the house frame the windows, offering tranquil views of towering magnolia trees and flowering cherries. “No matter where my patients look, there is nature,” Alonso says. “That’s very grounding.”
The original farmhouse kitchen had been partitioned into a warren of three tiny rooms: a cramped kitchen and a jot of a breakfast room, with a bathroom shoehorned in the middle.
Page 3: Connecting, continues...