Hill & Hurtt Architects

A Victorian Re-imagined

This 1895 rowhouse in Washington’s Bloomingdale neighborhood was reasonably well maintained over the years, but several interior renovations had left the house with spaces that were oddly laid out and disconnected from the exterior. In addition, houses of this era were designed with criteria specific to their time, which rarely focused on how to maximize daylight and exterior connections in a middle-block rowhouse. While the owners generally preferred open concept plans, they loved the high ceilings, original floors, and period details throughout the house. Their request was for a fresh design that would both highlight the historic parts of the house and create a more open floor plan to accommodate their lifestyle.

Since natural light was a critical concern, our first goal was to give every space in the house access to windows or skylights. Our second goal was to modify the floor plans so that one could stand at one end of the house and see through to windows at the opposite end, creating visual sight lines and a sense of spaciousness and connection throughout the house.

The back of the house was redesigned to greatly increase the size and number of windows for natural light while creating a composition that has a clear relation to the rear garden, and creating a back façade that was designed and thought-about instead of feeling leftover. Large openings were created between rooms to allow for better flow between spaces while maintaining the style of the original house. A raised ceiling in the master bedroom provides for a light and airy feeling that is felt in the entire house.

We gave thought and attention to colors and finishes of both the interior and exterior of the house. The front façade is a bright, vibrant color that fits into the colorful streetscape. A palate of neutrals was selected for the main rooms on the first floor, with lighter pastels and whites for the second floor to convey a brighter and warmer feel. Historic tiles were chosen to accent and highlight the wall colors. Great care was taken to preserve the home’s original features, and new wood trim, doors, stair parts, ceiling beams, and hardware match these historic details. Built-in cabinetry was designed to have a more transitional and modern look to play off the period details of the house and merge the different aesthetic preferences of the owners, truly creating a home that could be called theirs.