Stone House Renovation

Location: Falls Church, VA

Architects: Reader & Swartz

Like many homes built in the 1920s, this lovely stone colonial was small and compartmentalized by today’s standards. The owners wanted to expand the living space and open up floor plan without sacrificing the homes original charm and character. The solution involved additions to the front and rear along with extensive renovation. Work on the basement level focused on converting the old garage into a garden room while the main level received a covered porch, an enclosed foyer, a powder room, an expanded kitchen, a new family room, sunroom, and deck. Upstairs, we delivered a new master suite with cathedral ceilings, a laundry room and added two full baths. Even the attic was put to good use.

To convert the garage, we replaced the original floor with a raised aggregate stone floor and added beautiful wood carriage doors. When open to the elements this wide corridor acts as a lovely transition from the outdoors and provides abundant space to showcase some of the owner’s extensive pottery collection.

To deliver a covered porch and enclosed foyer, as well as many other new features, a three-story addition was added to the front. Abundant windows fill the space with light and the exposed stone and restored original front door reveal the homes original roots and charm.

The new front foyer addition and the rear family room/master bedroom suite/sunroom addition were harmoniously added to the original stone structure. The use of simple forms and window patterns create a sense of repetition, rhythm and continuity throughout the project. The expression of the existing natural stone on both the front and rear of the residence, and throughout the inside creates a nice contrast to the light, airy design of the additions.

The challenges were many. Moisture was penetrating the foundation walls in the basement and upper levels of the home. It was also discovered that the one-foot think stone walls were not load bearing; that the structural system was in fact a balloon-framed wall system inside the stone with no sheathing or vapor barrier. Getting natural light into the center of the home proved challenging as well.

The solution to the water and moisture issues was to completely excavate and trench around the existing perimeter. The old walls were re-pointed, re-parged and waterproofed while a gravel drain was added to move water away from the foundation. On the upper levels, the walls were sprayed with closed cell foam, creating a solid moisture barrier between the interior of the home and the old stone walls. To meet current building codes and structural requirements, the balloon-framed interior studs were modified. Natural light was introduced by opening the atic level and adding a sizeable skylight. On the exterior, all stone walls were re-tooled and re-pointed.