While we liked the location, the basic architectural form, and the overall size of the church house, it had several major deficiencies:
- We had two tiny bedrooms on the upper level with 7′ ceilings and we had two rapidly growing boys. We envisioned six-foot teenagers and their friends cramped in that space.
- We had no family/tv room.
- We could not get to our backyard, except through a convoluted path down an improvised stair.
- There was no off-street parking, nor bulk storage area (e.g., Shed, garage, etc.).
- We had 1500 square-feet of lower level (former apartment) but couldn’t really get to it and it was not comfortable even if we could get to it.
- We had an improvised master bedroom spanning two smaller bedrooms, which was kind of in the middle of the main living area.
So, the charge we gave to the architects was: connect the lower level and main level so we can use them both, give us access to our yard, and provide a TV room, master bedroom, and living space for the boys. We also asked them to think about solving our parking problem, but I was not optimistic about that one.
We interviewed three architects, all of whom we liked. Their prices were all similar. We ended up going with Peter Archer of Archer and Buchanan. Peter had done some very impressive renovations on the Main Line (the area in which we live) and he was at a similar life stage himself and so understood our issues very well. I’ve indicated elsewhere that I’m basically a modernist. However, I live in a 19th Century building and I’m respectful of its style and provenance, and Peter had done quite a few projects integrating old and new.