Best Completed Project of 2021: New Englander Expansion

This newly renovated New Englander needed some help when we first met its homeowners! With a vision and budget to match, these homeowners took advantage of a very fast-moving market and closed on this Downtown Portsmouth New Englander quickly to start work as soon as possible. Even though they inevitably got caught up in the city’s permitting process, we started designing in November 2020 and they moved in to a fully renovated and addition home in July 2021. Given all of the challenges of the past year – COVID-19, labor shortages, and supply chains – as well as the scope of the project, this project certainly moved fast.

While the lot is narrow, it is also deep, so we were able to put on an 18’ addition that steps in from the original footprint 12” on each side and lower in height by 24”. This way, we could tuck the addition in nicely with the original house.

The interior of the house was gutted down to studs in order to run new wiring and HVAC efficiently. But, the original rooms stayed in the original layout on the second floor with the first floor opening into the addition. One caveat: we did need to add a new dormer and staircase in order to hit code for access to the third floor.


The front entry way with the staircase and front room stayed the same, though we dressed them up a bit with built-ins and materials. The existing kitchen became the perfect landing for an entry area off the driveway side to create a powder room and mudroom. This also created a structural hallway wall to the addition of a large eat-in kitchen / dining room. There is a beautiful new deck off the back of the house that leads down to a large yard for the kids to play in.


The second-floor staircase lands at the original spot with a former front bedroom turned into playroom. The bedrooms off the hallway were simply painted, wallpapered and given new built-ins. We reconfigured the hallway bathroom and laundry in the original footprint of the house. The addition on the second floor became the primary suite with a large walk-in closet, bedroom and bathroom complete with water closet, double vanity and large shower.

THIRD FLOOR LAYOUT.                              

The new staircase and dormer create a sunny and welcoming entrance to the third floor that houses a bathroom, guest room, office, and family room. The eaves even offer areas for storage as well as HVAC lines.


Our goal was to create a farmhouse-inspired home with the white siding and black windows and roof. The front door is painted Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur.


We focused on neutrals on the walls with Grey Owl as the main wall color that carries all the way from the front entry to the third floor. Hale Navy is the color for the Library’s built-ins and the TV wall, while the kitchen island is Newburyport Blue. Simply White is the main cabinetry color in the Kitchen. Adding color to the built-ins introduces that interest while staying neutral enough to let accessories balance out the eye.

This was a fun and inspiring project with great clients who moved three times while they were under construction all while both working full time and raising two small children! They are a great example of flexibility while listening and trusting the contractor and myself to guide them to a beautiful finished product. For more photos of the project, check out the portfolio pages here and here!


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