Federal Surround


Design professional
Cornerstone Architects

Sandra Bargiel

The challenge
A generations-old home in historic Slabtown was impractical. The home's modest scaling wouldn't permit adequate furniture for conversational groupings for a family that often entertains. The rub, normally, in these treasured gems: they do not work. Fireplaces made for coal are too small for wood logs or even a gas insert; staircases neither have headroom nor do they permit a twin bed to go up the stairs; furniture layouts of any scale are impossible; the wind enters at its leisure and heating systems perform scarcely adequately.

The solution
Inspired design recedes yielding a perfect meld of new and old. Charming old houses have such lovely scale. Design and execution alike are compelling when you approach this lovely Federal home. The scale of this addition was set by roof lines which would normally dictate small rooms. Our solution was steel beams artfully nested into the floor systems and concealed in walls, maintaining the façade and affording full-size bedroom furniture in comfortable rooms where indicated. A 4-foot wide stairway crafted from ebony eschews inhabitants and generous furniture, alike to the new comfortable environs above. A full masonry Federal fireplace laid from wire cut bricks balances and anchors the living room permitting the owners with the new layout finally to entertain and comfortably relax in their now gracious setting.


870 East Eighth
Traverse City, Michigan

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