Berry Lane house goes from cramped to comfy after renovation

Sometimes, it’s better to wait.

“We had to install a new water heater two months after moving in and replace the roof two years later. We tried to remodel the bathroom ourselves, and that didn’t turn out well,” Maggie Hughes recalls. “We wanted to do some other things to the house, but then we had a child, so we put everything else on hold.”

Maggie, husband Guy, and their now-15-year-old daughter Delaney made do with the 1,542-square-foot home’s cramped kitchen and bathrooms that are common in many ranch-style homes built in the 1950s.

“We purchased the house because we knew the school district was going to be great,” Maggie explained. “We loved being able to walk to Cassidy (Elementary) and Morton (Middle) and over to the stadium and tailgate with friends. We knew the home would keep its value just by virtue of its location.”

As Delaney grew up, the family’s routine got busier. Cooking and getting ready in the mornings became more of a challenge, too. Maggie started looking at houses online that would better meet the family’s needs. “Guy finally got tired of it and said, ‘Why don’t we just redo this house the way we would like?’” Maggie recalled. Though doubtful that the house at 733 Berry Lane could be remodeled to her satisfaction, she went along.

“Once we had the plans in hand, she was good,” Guy recalls.

Seventeen years after moving in, they broke ground on an addition that gave them much-needed breathing room and freed up other spaces for different purposes. “It all started out as needing an extra bathroom and a mud room. It grew a little bit,” Guy quipped.

The couple credit Lexington architect Alan Hisel and Ted Vimont of Vimont Builders with taking time to understand how they live in the house, then reconfiguring the floor plan and building an addition to meet their needs.

“It’s designed so we can stay here,” Maggie explained. “If we had done the renovation earlier, I don’t think we would have had the foresight to think about long-term living in the house, i.e aging in place. We would have done a renovation that did not change the floor plan and would have ended up doing two renovations or moving.”

Maggie, who is the office manager for Advantage Linen, and Guy, an attorney, began working with Vimont, their friend and neighbor, in April 2014. Vimont suggested hiring an architect to ensure the home met the family’s short- and long-term needs and as many “wants” as possible.

“Ted guided us to Alan Hisel, and we couldn’t be more pleased with his work,” Maggie said. Together, Vimont and Hisel made the house do things the owners never thought possible.

As an example, eliminating exterior steps to the basement doubled the size of the adjacent kitchen. “It’s a big enough space now that you can have two cooks in the kitchen, sometimes three, which happens occasionally,” said Guy, who loves to cook.

Moving the stairway created space to add a mudroom, a project near the top of Maggie’s must-have list. “The kitchen table had become the drop zone for book bags, purses, riding gear . . . things that didn’t need to be in the kitchen,” she explained.

Vimont and Hisel converted the living room to the owners’ suite bedroom and transformed the adjacent spare bedroom to a bathroom, closet, and hall closet—solving a problem that had stumped Guy and Maggie for years.

The result is a handsome, spa-like en suite with a glass-enclosed walk-in shower, porcelain tile floor, and a new vanity with soapstone countertop.

To give Delaney her own bathroom, Hisel merged the original hall bathroom, a half bath, and a closet.

“I have a notebook full of drawings, but we never could figure out how to get the second full bathroom and other space we needed and still have the third bedroom,” Guy said.

Workers refinished original hardwood floors in the bedrooms. Lighter tones pick up similar colors in rough-hewn oak floors in the kitchen, entryway, and great room.

The lumber came from a barn at Shakertown. “I fell in love with the colors and the variation in the texture,” he said.

“I knew I was gonna love ‘em or hate ‘em,” said Maggie, who wasn’t yet sold on the idea of rough-hewn wood floors. “I think they’re beautiful, just perfect.”

“These floors and Soapstone countertops were the two things I really wanted in the renovation,” Guy added. Durable and easy to maintain, the two surfaces enhance the relaxed, lived-in feel of the Hughes abode.

A vaulted ceiling and glass doors across most of the length of the addition make the 577-square-foot great room seem even larger. Half of the sidewalk sign that marked the entrance to the Saratoga Restaurant, a Chevy Chase landmark that closed decades ago, hangs above the dining table. Guy tried several times to buy it from owner Lucie Slone-Meyers before she finally relented. Nearby, there’s a nook for the dog’s crate. “We knew we’d always have a dog, so we needed a space for one,” Maggie said.

In the kitchen, Maggie chose white Shaker-style cabinetry and new GE appliances with a matte slate finish that doesn’t show fingerprints or require polishing and blends better than traditional stainless with the room’s dark countertops and rustic floor. A peninsula with a bar counter provides extra seating for guests. “No matter how nice of a porch you have or how nice of a family room you have, people always end up in the kitchen,” Guy said.

At the end of the day, the family’s favorite spot is the new 80-square-foot covered porch, just off the great room. “We like to sit out back with our neighbors,” Maggie said. “The only thing we’d change if we had it to do over is we’d make it bigger.”