The Essex House
  • An unassuming cottage will get new life as a house that's designed for aging in place.

  • For the second half of the 2012–2013 season, TOH TV travels north to the rolling hills and marshes of Essex, Massachusetts, to renovate a remote 1930s cottage into an inviting in-law quarters. Homeowners John and Julie Corcoran had been looking for a place for Julie's parents, who want to relocate to be closer to their four beloved grandchildren, and were fortunate to find this property on a wooded lot not far from their own home.

    TOH TV general contractor Tom Silva and the rest of the team will restore the neglected and poorly renovated house to its original cozy character while incorporating universal-design elements and features that will allow an older couple to live there with minimal assistance. The redesign of the three-bedroom, two-story home will be led by architect Sally DeGan, whose firm SpaceCraft Architecture has tackled several such remodels. DeGan's plan will allow Julie's parents to live entirely on the first floor if they so choose, with an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen. Amenities such as widened doorways and wheelchair-accessible thresholds will be incorporated throughout—but in a way that doesn't feel obvious or institutional. "When we're done, the universal-design aspects of this remodel will be nearly invisible," DeGan says. A small addition in the rear of the house will accommodate a new kitchen and a sunroom that will afford ample views of the surrounding rocky outcroppings and dense forests that make this part of the Bay State so beautiful.

    Outside, the house will also get a much-needed spiff-up, with plans for a new metal roof and a stone-veneer foundation made partly from rocks harvested from the property. Overgrowth will be trimmed back to forge a pathway to a new parking area, and outdated plumbing and heating systems will get a much-needed upgrade. One thing's for sure—this little cottage in the woods is ready to be in the spotlight.

    The Essex House Project premiers in January 2013. Check local listings for details.

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