The newest project from This Old House television (premiering on PBS on February 8) is a 1920s Craftsman bungalow that will be getting a green remodel, using environmentally responsible materials and techniques to update the small house.
The house is in the leafy Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas, an area developed in the 1920s on land around a horse racing track. Most of the houses are modest sizes and date to that era, though many have been renovated in recent years.
Homeowners Michael Klug and Michele Grieshaber just got married in April and want to expand the house Michele has owned for 10 years into a place big enough for both of them and Michael’s two sons, Sam and David. The will turn the two-bedroom, one-bath into a four-bedroom, two-bath house.
Michele and Michael say they prefer to open doors and windows than turn on the air conditioning—rare in hot and sunny Austin. They want to connect the interiors as often as possible to the outdoor spaces, particularly this back deck, which sits just off the kitchen.
The living room (shown here just before work began) still has its original Craftman details, including a large mantel, tiled fireplace, built-ins bookcases, and simple-profiled moldings.
The house’s kitchen is actually in decent shape, but Michael and Michele feel it’s time for an update. Michael likes to cook and the couple entertain a lot, so they’ll open up the space to create a better flow during parties.
The main cooking spaces are set off from the rest of the kitchen by a large island that actually impedes traffic rather than encouraging it. But the wide French doors to the back deck are a plus for entertaining in the warm climate.
The rest of the kitchen is devoted to a small eating space. The new layout will make this area more accessible from the kitchen and living room.
The house has only two bedrooms, plenty for Michele when she lived there alone but a tight squeeze for four people. The addition will include two new bedrooms.
A single bathroom was sufficient when the house was built but doesn’t pass muster in the 21st century. But because Michael and Michele are concerned about how much their changes will affect the environment and the integrity of the house and its neighborhood, they’ll only add one more bathroom.
The space for the addition will come from the spacious attic, which was originally built under a high roofline to draw the heat upward and away from the house. Because there is so much room here, the plans only call for bumping up the house’s profile a mere 6 feet.
One original detail the couple loves is the long-leaf pine flooring milled 80 years ago from tightly grained old-growth wood. They would like to duplicate the flooring in the upstairs addition to maintain the integrity of the house and will likely have to use reclaimed lumber to find a match.
The deck on the back of the house will come down and be replaced by a screened porch that connects to the newly opened kitchen through French doors.
One of the biggest priorities for Michele and Michael is making sure the house doesn’t change so much that it feels like a different place altogether. They emphasize, above all, maintaining the integrity of the original structure, which includes so many beautiful Craftsman details—like this arched front door.