Sunday, April 4, 2010


An addition, even one that just about doubles a home’s size, doesn’t have to look like an afterthought.

As a graphic designer, Hilary Bruel has a refined aesthetic sense; as a mother of two young children, she has a good sense of what’s practical. So when she and her husband, Stephen, a research analyst for a financial company, were thinking of adding to their 1,200-square-foot house in Needham, the plans needed to succeed on both levels.

“So many people just stick a big old box on the back of the house,” Hilary says. They wanted to avoid doing that to their classic Cape, but also wanted to fix the home’s layout problems: One of the three second-floor bedrooms was tiny, there was no bathroom downstairs, and the back door opened into the kitchen -- “so there was always a big pile of shoes in front of the fridge.”

In addition to a new mudroom on the first floor, architect Jake Lilley, of Lilley-Dadagian Architects in Lexington, added a bathroom and doubled the size of the kitchen. Upstairs, out of that tiny third bedroom, he carved a laundry area and a hallway that leads to a new master suite.

For their new kitchen, the Bruels wanted a galley style. “They’re not particularly chic these days,” Hilary says, “but they’re very efficient.” The family didn’t need the kitchen to be eat-in, since it opens up into the dining room, where most meals are served, but they did want a computer station -- and the view of the backyard was key. “That way, I’m able to check my e-mails or shoot one back to a client while also watching the kids,” Hilary says.

The renovation took nine months and substantially depleted the couple’s savings, but that doesn’t bother Hillary. “It’s our forever house,” she says. “You know how it is when you move into a place and there are all these little things that bug you? We don’t have any of those. We got to change everything that bugs us.”

Elizabeth Gehrman Boston Globe March 28, 2010

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