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Beach-town Bungalow | 2018 Idea House Preview

Hammers are swinging at the 2018 Idea House, where advanced materials and building techniques are creating an updated Craftsman-style house with a staycation sensibility

Craftsman Render

Architectural drawing Union Studio Architecture & Community Design

It’s a cloudy spring day in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and the building crew is busy nailing up the shingles on the sweeping roof, trimming out the front door, and installing the porch ceiling. A passerby stops and smiles, nodding in appreciation at the look of the house: Craftsman style has that effect on people. The early-1900s architectural style exudes comfort, warmth, and familiarity, and that is exactly the goal of TOH ’s 2018 Idea House—to combine traditional architectural details with the most-desired features for today’s informal way of living.

Shown: A rendering of the 2018 Idea House shows off such Craftsman details as a full-width porch under a deep roof overhang, exposed rafter tails, and tapered columns on stone piers. The steeply pitched gable and cedar shingles are elements typical of New England shingled cottages.

Work in Progress

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

“We were inspired by traditional Craftsman bungalows,” says Union Studio architect Christina Carlson, who collaborated with The House Designers to create the plans for the 2018 Idea House. “The house has a unique roof that gives the appearance of one and a half stories, creating a nice scale and a sense of coziness even though there is a lot of living space tucked under that roof.”

Shown: Innovative sheathing materials and hurricane-rated windows form a weathertight building envelope as the bones of the Craftsman-inspired home take shape.

EXTERIOR WALL SHEATHING: ZIP System Sheathing & Tape

ROOFING UNDERLAYMENT: GCP Applied Technologies

COMPOSITE ROOF TILES: DaVinci Roofscapes

WINDOWS: Andersen Windows & Patio Doors

WESTERN RED CEDAR PORCH CEILING: Real Cedar

Vaulted Assembly

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Indeed, the 2,700-square-foot house will have four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a kitchen complete with a butler’s pantry, a mudroom, a living room that opens onto a screened porch, an office nook, first- and second-floor laundry rooms, and a basement with a home theater, a sauna, and an exercise room. A detached garage has upstairs space to accommodate a guest suite.

Shown: Contractor Jeff Sweenor (on ladder) and his son, Ryan, frame the vaulted ceiling in the second story above the freestanding garage, creating a dramatic space for a future guest suite.

Aligning Corners

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

General contractor Jeff Sweenor is committed to building a house with the feeling of a classic beach bungalow—one of the state’s best stretches of shoreline is just blocks away—but with advanced materials that will add durability and protection from the elements. “The old cottages from the early 1900s were built without insulation,” says Sweenor, who lived in this neighborhood as a college student at the University of Rhode Island. “We have modernized while being sure to give the house a traditional look.”

Shown: Using a chalk line, father and son check the alignment of the framing’s sharp outside corners, which they made by ripping and mitering 3⁄4-inch plywood.

Cherry Craft

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Characteristic Craftsman elements include a full-width front porch tucked under an overhanging roof, exposed rafter tails, tapered porch columns perched on stone piers, cedar shingle siding, and windows with a tri-muntin detail evocative of the style. The modernization comes through in such materials as a precast insulated foundation that is waterproof, straight, and level from the moment it is set in place; manufactured stone veneer that goes on faster; a liquid vapor barrier applied to the subfloor in the house’s first and second levels to keep moisture away from the quartersawn white oak floorboards; hurricane-rated windows; an engineered wall-sheathing system; self-sealing roof underlayment; and weatherproof composite roof tiles that look like cedar shakes.

Shown: Sweenor Builders crew members install the front entry ceiling’s stepped tray detail, crafted in cherry.

CHERRY TRAY CEILING: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods

Stone Foundation

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Interior designer Kristen Martone included distinctive touches that nod to old-house details and also tap the Sweenor crew’s fine craftsmanship: A stepped tray ceiling inset made of cherry adds a focal point in the entry, as does a white oak herringbone floor inset outlined in black walnut. Bringing in a more contemporary feel are the linear limestone veneer on the living room fireplace, the open-plan first-floor layout with the kitchen adjoining the living room, and sliding glass doors that create a 12-foot-wide opening from living room to screened porch. “We are definitely bringing the outside in, and making this house the kind of place where people with overscheduled lives can just come home at the end of the day and have some time for themselves,” says Martone.

Shown: Mason Buck Sharpe installs quick-to-go-up manufactured stone veneer on the precast foundation.

MANUFACTURED STONE VENEER: Eldorado Stone

PRECAST CONCRETE WALL PANELS: Superior Walls

Bring in the Stairs

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The staycation mind-set is underscored by all the outdoor amenities, which include a plunge pool to cool off in, an outdoor kitchen for casual entertaining, and a fire bowl for gatherings under the stars. “This arrangement sets up a private enclave delineated by the house and garage,” says Carlson. “We wanted a detached garage in the rear so that from the sidewalk, the house is most prominent—it’s something you typically see in older neighborhoods.” A covered breezeway connects the garage to the house, adding the modern convenience today’s homeowners are looking for.

Shown: The stairway in the main house is being installed in sections. Sweenor Builders built them at their shop, without stringers, to create a monolithic system of oak treads and poplar risers and skirts connected with epoxy. “It’s a stronger, straighter, better system than a site-built one,” says Jeff Sweenor.

Oak Flooring

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

For evoking the Craftsman era, however, there’s no better spot than the front porch, especially since the house sits in a walkable neighborhood in one of Narragansett’s four historic districts. “This is a street where people still sit out on their porches and spend time in their yards,” says Sweenor, “and this house will fit right in.”

Shown: A crew member lays the quartersawn white oak flooring on the upstairs hallway’s plywood subfloor, which is treated with a liquid vapor barrier to minimize the wood’s movement.

WHITE OAK FLOORING: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods

PLYWOOD SUBFLOOR: AdvanTech

Doorway Trim

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Mike Rich trims out a doorway with moisture-resistant radiata pine.

RADIATA PINE TRIM, SOFFITS, AND CLAPBOARDS: LIFESPAN Solid Select

Shake Fastening

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Crew members install cedar-look composite roof shakes on the garage.

COMPOSITE ROOF TILES: DaVinci Roofscapes

Stair Sections

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The installed stair sections in the main house.

OAK TREADS: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods

Dramatic Connection

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The Sweenor Builders crew put a system of sliding glass doors in the 12-foot opening between the living room and screened porch, which makes a dramatic connection between the indoor and outdoor living spaces.

PATIO DOOR SYSTEM: Andersen Windows & Patio Doors

WALL SHEATHING: ZIP System Sheathing & Tape

HVAC Crew

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The HVAC crew install the condensers for the whole-house heating, cooling, and dehumidifying system.

HVAC: Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems

Garage Roofline

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The detached two-car garage’s center gable and sweeping roofline echo the ones on the main house.

Roof Underlay

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Underlayment goes down on the sweep of the garage roof in preparation for the composite shakes.

ROOF UNDERLAYMENT: GCP Applied Technologies

COMPOSITE ROOF TILES: DaVinci Roofscapes

Stone Wool Insulation

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Unfaced batts made from stone wool (a.k.a. mineral wool) will enhance soundproofing and fire safety in the second-floor master bedroom.

INSULATION: ROCKWOOL

Father and Son Builders

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Jeff Sweenor and his son, Ryan Sweenor, work side by side on many projects in southern Rhode Island, where Sweenor Builders (#SweenorBuilders) is based.

Glass on Track

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Crew members set one of the sliding glass doors into its track system.

PATIO DOORS: Andersen Windows & Patio Doors

SKYLIGHTS: VELUX

WESTERN RED CEDAR SCREENED PORCH CEILING: Real Cedar

Breezeway

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

A crew member at work on the breezeway roof. Skylights will brighten the screened porch, where the breezeway meets the house.

SKYLIGHTS: VELUX

COMPOSITE ROOF TILES: DaVinci Roofscapes

ROOF UNDERLAYMENT: GCP Applied Technologies

Screened Porch

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The screened porch on the rear of the house offers casual outdoor living. The sidewalls are finished with radiata pine boards above the screened panels.

RADIATA PINE TRIM, SOFFITS, AND CLAPBOARDS: LIFESPAN Solid Select

Sealed Against the Weather

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

A covered breezeway connects the freestanding garage to the main house, offering protection from the weather.

WALL SHEATHING: ZIP System Sheathing & Tape

WINDOWS: Andersen Windows & Patio Doors

BASEMENT DOOR: The BILCO Company

Soaking Pool

Courtesy of Sweenor Builders

A 7-by-13-foot rectangular precast-concrete plunge pool with tiled interior is lowered into place in the backyard; the 5-foot-deep pool is designed for soaking rather than swimming.

POOL: Soake Pools

LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR: Jonathan Zeyl, Landscape Creations of Rhode Island

Porch Wood

Courtesy of Sweenor Builders

The front porch’s floor is made of weather-resistant tongue-and-groove western red cedar; the porch runs the full width of the house, adding to the Craftsman look and providing an ideal spot for enjoying the neighborhood.

WESTERN RED CEDAR PORCH FLOOR: Real Cedar

Floor-Warming

Courtesy of Sweenor Builders

A crew member spreads thinset mortar during installation of the electric floor-warming system in the master bath.

SCHLUTER-KERDI WATERPROOFING MEMBRANES AND DITRA-HEAT ELECTRIC FLOOR-WARMING: Schluter-Systems

Custom Curves

Courtesy of Sweenor Builders

The house’s custom curved brackets were crafted by Sweenor Builders in their shop. The brackets add a decorative element to the roof overhangs along gables and eaves of the house and garage.

WESTERN RED CEDAR BRACKETS: Real Cedar

WOOD GLUE: Gorilla Glue