A wonderful lot with gorgeous landscaping begs a welcoming entry that makes a grand statement. A small, dark setback entry just will not do. We were asked to give this 1981 house a dramatic, sweeping entry. This home underwent a major kitchen remodel in 2008 and a major master bath remodel in 2011 by our company. Now it was time to create a dramatic entry reflecting those modern renovations. By using contemporary materials and style, we joined the two previous restorations together to create a cohesive, modern home.
Once inside, the owner also wanted to open the entry up to the large vaulted living room and create a sensational sweeping stairway to the basement. The owner is a collector of very unique artworks—many of which are oversized—so an entry with additional wall space was desirous and imperative.
How do you create a dramatic entry when all you see as you approach the home is a large vaulted garage roof? Add to this fact that the living part of the home was a basic “rancher” design with 8-foot ceilings. We had to create an entry that could compete with the garage roof but not be out of scale once you entered the house. Since the entry was located in the home’s center, the entry width available also limited our stair configuration options.
The solution was to create a 24-foot-high vaulted entry rising above and balancing the large adjacent garage roof. To poise the volume inside the entry, we created a 10-foot-wide by 14-foot-high doorway between the entry and existing living area. Clean modern lines, a sleek curved railing and a cascading globe light fixture present a very welcoming progression as you enter the home. Given that the proximity of the stairway to the entry door was approximately 5 feet away, we added a small addition to the front of the home to allow guests to come in without feeling cramped. Expanding the entry width and creating a ledge above the adjacent bathroom also balanced the height. Natural light in an entry space is critical to making the room feel light and airy, so we added windows in the high, west-facing back wall to add not only light but ventilation. The windows are operable via remote control motors.
The existing home had a basic “L” stairway that was short on headroom when entering the basement. During the design phase, we looked at several types of stairs in which a landing was considered. In the end, a curved helical stairway was designed. The stairway curve was the critical element during construction, as the alignment of the stair to windows and lighting needed to be correct.
The upper handrail in the initial concept phase was to include glass panels. Once we got going, the glass seemed too sterile for the space, so we decided to use metal panels with random holes cut in them. Care had to be taken so that no openings would allow a 4-inch sphere to fit through to meet local code. The curved railing winding down the circular stairs was custom bent and welded onsite.
To further accentuate the circular stairway, a dramatic Bocci light was installed in the center, which suspended 26 glass spheres cascading 15 feet. A special ceiling pedestal was designed so the flat canopy could be installed seamlessly to the vaulted ceiling. Upward lighting was installed on the ledge above the bathroom to highlight art displayed on the ledge. Dimmable recessed lights provide dramatic overall lighting for the space. Additional lighting includes stairway nightlights, lighted closet rod and wall-mount monorail art lights.
Another challenge was HVAC in the new vaulted space. We designed a linier diffuser vent—often seen in commercial applications—and built it into a wall soffit. This achieved clean lines reaching up the hall wall.
Once design was complete, the logistics of building the new roof structure onto an existing finished home in which the owners were living was another challenge. Much of the new roof structure was built while leaving the existing ranch house trusses in place to keep the home dry.
The project was very labor-intensive but gratifying for both the architectural and craftsmen of our company. | QR
Janette Hruban, AIA, received her Bachelor of Architecture from Kansas State University. After graduation, Hruban followed her husband around the world during his 21 years in the U.S. Army. She was fortunate to pursue her architecture career in Germany, Japan and many U.S. states. Hruban has been with Hanson Carlen Architecture and Construction in Spokane, Washington, for 5 years.
Ryan Ruffcorn, AIA, has been part of the Hanson Carlen team for 10-plus years, providing creative design solutions to many of the company’s most challenging and notable projects. Ruffcorn is a registered architect and has over 20 years of experience in the programming, design and construction of residential projects. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and received his Bachelor of Architecture from Washington State University.