It’s a challenge presented to many architects who specialize in home renovation: adding light and space to a low-slung rambler without destroying the integrity of the design. But for architect Michael Haigler, this project came with an extra twist. The house on Spring Lake Road that Blake and Chris Kopecky wanted to update was one he had always admired from afar. “It’s a great classic ranch with good proportions and a pretty front porch,” he says. “As they described the home’s location, all I could think of was how much I would enjoy working on it.”
The Kopeckys also had fallen for the house when they bought it years earlier. “We immediately loved the house and saw potential,” says Blake. “As our family grew, we looked at other houses, but our hearts always went back to the circle.”
But as happy as the Kopeckys were with their home, it did lack the one thing Blake wanted most: light. “I love the outdoors and wanted to bring them into my home with windows,” she explains. “Big open spaces are important to me as well, so it was crucial that we raised the ceilings too.”
With the help of contactor Roy Hurley of Capital Construction, the family ended up with a testament to creativity, respect and perseverance. “Blake wanted to break out of the 8-foot ceilings, but we needed to maintain the view of the house from the street,” says Michael. “We knew we’d end up going out the back. The trick was how to meld the addition into the house so it would complement the façade.”
To accomplish that goal, Michael came up with a roofline for the addition that looks, from the street, like a triangle attached to the back of the house. Once inside, though, the changes are staggering. Where a short hallway once ended at a wall, today it leads to a two-story den. Light floods in from two sets of French doors topped with windows, which look out onto a large loggia and, beyond, an expansive back yard. To the left, a sunny master bedroom suite is bathed in light. “Michael was so good at bringing our ideas out,” say Blake, smiling, as she looks around the great room. “He was always willing to revise the plan until it was just what we wanted.”
Part of the beauty of the transformation is the transition between old and new. In the breakfast area, which overlooks the great room, a vaulted ceiling adds height and subtly begins the progression. Painted glossy white, it gently reflects light from the great room in a subtle shimmer. To physically separate the two spaces, a serpentine half-wall curves across the floor. “We had talked about leaving the space open, with wide steps going from the original part of the house to the addition, but we really wanted to delineate the space,” explains Michael. “This way, we were able to preserve the visual flow and end up with a backdrop for the furniture. It was also much safer for the children.”
Though large and spacious, the two-story great room is welcoming and kid-friendly, with soft, sage-green furnishings, lots of throw pillows and a sea-grass rug topped with an oriental rug in jewel shades of red and blue.
To further signify the change in attitude, the hallway ends with a two-story light tower. “We needed to be sure that the master bedroom was tied into the progression,” says Blake. “The light from the tower pulls you in that direction and creates a pathway toward the master.” To visually connect the rooms, circles carved into the doors of the Kopeckys’ bedroom echo round windows in the great room as well as a circular detail in the mantle of the custom-made cast-concrete fireplace. “The transitions in this house allow it to tell its story,” says Michael. “The Kopeckys were dream clients because they understood the necessity of flowing from one space to the next.”
Though large and spacious, the great room is welcoming and kid-friendly, with soft, sage-green furnishings, lots of throw pillows and a sea-grass rug topped with an oriental rug in jewel shades of red and blue. Bright contemporary artwork adds color to the walls; larger pieces like an oversized cistern reminiscent of Santa Fe are dramatic and earthy. Although Blake did all of the decorating herself, she did have a wingman: her mother.
Blake and Chris Kopecky with their children, Hills, 6, and Rhys, 3.
“We all have artistic talents, and my mom’s come out in her ability to decorate,” she says. “She finds great pieces wherever she goes. All we have to do is find places for them, which is easy since they’re always fabulous and, to me, comforting. It’s like she’s always here.” The room also has depth, thanks in part to architectural details like the fireplace, a coffered ceiling and a floor tiled in alabaster travertine. “I love the variances in the travertine,” says Blake. “They add a lot of interest to the room.”
The bedroom and master bath, serene spaces done in warm tones of gold and yellow, are equally bright — and detailed. To visually separate the space from the hallway and great room, the Kopeckys had the hardwood floor boards laid in a diagonal pattern. Tying into the circle motif in the room’s doors, a massive four-piece round window in the master bath adorns the room like a piece of art. Set high on the wall, it allows light to stream in without worries about privacy. There are also windows along the upper wall in the shower and a skylight. Jerusalem gold marble on the floors, shower and countertops gives the room a bronzy glow that’s enhanced by the sunlight.
The master bath is a serene space done in warm tones of gold and yellow, and a massive four-piece round window adorns the room like a piece of art.
As stunning as the rest of their home turned out, the Kopeckys’ favorite part of the renovation turned out to be the loggia, a 20-foot by 40-foot space that runs along the back of the house and serves less as a porch and more as an outdoor room. “There’s nothing like being outside, and we’re out here almost year-round,” says Chris. “It’s the perfect setting for kids and football. We can watch the games, and the kids can run around in the yard or, when it gets cold, roast marshmallows in the fireplace. We knew we’d love it, but we had no idea how much we’d use it.”
It’s easy to see why. In the center of the covered area, wrought-iron furnishings flank a minimalist limestone fireplace set off by a shadowy portrait of a horse. In the corner, a dining table and chairs look out over an uncovered, trike-friendly limestone patio and the leafy back yard.
To ensure that the addition would complement the home’s original façade, architect Michael Haigler came up with a roofline that looks, from the street, like a triangle attached to the back of the house.
“We’re hoping to put in a pool one day, but that’s phase seven,” laughs Blake. As in the rest of the house, the design harkens back to the original home: the trim was painted in high-gloss white, the pickled pine tongue and groove ceiling and the flagstone on the floor were chosen because they resemble those on the front porch. “As much as we wanted to add light and more space to the house, we felt a responsibility to keep its basic character,” says Blake. “It’s what we fell in love with in the first place.”