Wonky Works

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Making an irregular footprint work while maintaining the ad-hoc charm of the original structure and making sustainable upgrades.

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  • Expand the space, yet keep within the existing footprint to protect the mature gardens; preserve the “wonky” charm of the existing building’s ad-hoc character; integrate a modern architectural vocabulary with the older construction; build sustainably; deal with seismic requirements


The designers brought a more modern vocabulary to this 100-year-old cottage by letting in light and developing an open plan, but they kept the historic paneling. Outside, they replaced shingles with FSC-certified cedar siding for both aesthetic and maintenance reasons. The pattern echoes the interior paneling.

They dealt with seismic requirements on the exterior. To help with lateral loads, they built a steel trellis with glass panels across the front door. “If the house wants to move one way, the steel pulls it back the other,” architect Cary Bernstein says.

Judges’ comments

The judges loved the interior and felt that despite the confused additions thrown on over the years, “the finished product stands alone as a delightful incarnation.” —Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.

Spec List

Bathroom plumbing fittings: Waterworks

Bathroom plumbing fixtures: Kohler; Sunrise Specialty; Toto

Countertops: Caesarstone

Dishwasher: Miele

Entry doors: Loewen

Fireplace: Superior

Hardware: Baldwin

HVAC: Runtal

Lighting fixtures: Lightolier; Halo; Erco; Lumiere; Leucos; Pucci

Paints/stains: Benjamin Moore; Cabot

Refrigerator: Sub-Zero

Windows: Loewen

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