Wilma and Bruce Bowers purchased the existing 1960s
Cape Cod with plans for a major renovation and expansion.
Their ambitious makeover would create a three-story
addition to the right of the original structure, an addition
to the rear and a front garage addition linked to the main
home by a covered breezeway.
When Wilma and Bruce Bowers first learned about the availability of the 1960s Cape Cod that they would purchase in 2004 and renovate for themselves, they leapt at the opportunity. “We had always admired this sweet house on a cul-de-sac in McLean’s historic Salona Village, where we’d lived since 2001,” recalls Wilma Bowers, who with her husband, Bruce, owns Bowers Design Build, Inc. “In 2003, Dr. Bill Davis, 93, the designer, builder and owner, died. We loved the house so much that even though we’d only lived in our other home for two years, we bought Dr. Davis’s home from his estate.”
The couple began a 10-month design phase for a renovation and expansion of the 4,600-square-foot house, which sat on a generous acre-plus lot. “We wanted the home to still look like the house that Dr. Davis built, albeit with some major Bruce Bowers improvements,” says Wilma.
Bruce’s plan, which would increase the size of the home by nearly 50 percent to 6,500 square feet, was informed by this guideline. “We kept the central Cape Cod core of the home and created a three-story addition to the right, an addition to the rear and a front garage addition to the left,” says Bruce. The project also included major landscaping that would extend the family’s living and entertaining spaces outdoors to a new dual-level terrace complete with al fresco fireplace and a fabulous new pool.
Repeated rooflines and window elements from the original house added balance to the expansion and connected the old and new. For the new master suite added to the rear of the home, for example, Bruce Bowers used the dormer shed expansion technique employed traditionally in Cape Cods to pick up extra ceiling height and to create a new space that possessed all the charm of the original house.
Gutting the interiors down to a structural skeleton to accommodate all new electrical/mechanical systems presented the couple with a clean slate for re-imagining the interior. “One of benefits of designing your own home is the opportunity to think through how you live and design for that,” says Wilma. “We give our clients a design survey up-front that tells us what their day is like, and where they spend the most time in their home. We all have preconceived notions about how we want to live based on the conditioning we’ve had, on what real estate agents tell us, on how homes have been built. We put ourselves through our own questionnaire.” The Bowers jettisoned the traditional formal dining and living areas in favor of an open great room floor plan to take advantage of the property’s views, enhance circulation and provide a much-expanded kitchen to accommodate large family gatherings.
They opened the original dining room to the kitchen/family room space. In the new dining area, a load-bearing solid masonry rear wall was taken down to allow a six-foot expansion out the back. Rather than installing load-bearing columns, which would break up the new open space, they utilized a huge steel beam to support the floor upstairs and the roof above.
In this expanded area defined by an exposed timber-beam ceiling, the couple designed buffet storage with a system of rollout drawers and an easy-care stone surface. “Bruce’s immediate family is 35 people,” says Wilma. “I can set up for a party of up to 50 people in less than a half hour. I just open the cabinet and set up the top as the staging area.”
Maximizing available light was a top priority. In the original house, an upstairs bathroom positioned over the foyer created a low ceiling with awkward lines that blocked natural light. The bathroom was relocated, allowing Bruce to modify the foyer ceiling height and to admit light from the front dormer windows.
Gigi Parr, interior designer for Bowers Design Build, worked with the couple on furnishings and color palette to further meld the indoor/outdoor connection. “With so many open areas and a lot of glass, I wanted to hold on to a sense of warmth and welcome,” she says. Gold undertones in the faux-finished foyer introduce hints of warmth. In the great room, she selected a rich golden shade to energize and invigorate. “Scale is tricky in an open space like this. Pieces with weight and character, like the armoire in the great room, are needed to provide a sense of proportion,” says Parr.
“This is our third whole-house project, and we are finding the third time really is the charm,” says Wilma Bowers. Indeed, Bowers Design Build, Inc., won a Contractor of the Year award in the category of whole-house remodel over $1 million for the project. “It is the compilation of everything we knew we loved in this ideal setting.”
Art historian, fiction and features writer Judith Turner-Yamamoto is based in Washington, DC. Photographer Anne Gummerson is based in Baltimore.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION: Bruce Bowers, Bowers Design Build, Inc., McLean, Virginia. INTERIOR DESIGN: Gigi Parr, Bowers Design Build, Inc., McLean, Virginia.
The project increased the size of the home by 50 percent.
The project also enhanced the grounds with a new
dual-level terrace, outdoor fireplace and pool.
The Bowers gutted the home’s interior and started with a
clean slate. By relocating a second-floor bathroom, they
were able to trade the low ceiling in the original foyer for a
more open and airy entry featuring a painting by David
French doors in the new sunroom open to the great room
and the back yard.
Perfect for entertaining, the kitchen/dining area boasts an
exposed timber-beam ceiling and a built-in buffet with
plenty of storage.
The two-sided stone fireplace floats between the living and
dining areas, acting as a room divider and reinforcing the
coziness that defines the house. Gigi Parr, an interior
designer at Bowers Design Build, helped with furnishings.
“Scale is tricky in an open space like this. Pieces with weight
and character, like the armoire in the great room, are needed
to provide a sense of proportion and scale,” she says.
In the kitchen, Bruce retained the original kitchen window,
now located over the range, by developing a solution for a
unique floating range hood.
In Bruce Bowers’s home office, located in the new addition
on the rear above the expanded dining area, he repeated
gabled rooflines from the original house to provide a
seamless blending of architectural elements.
The addition encompassed a new master bedroom with
a fireplace and a luxurious master bath.
Bowers also removed part of the existing attic floor system
and finished it to create a loft area in what has become a
two-story bedroom for one of his two daughters.
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