Three Oaks – Modern Addition to Historic Home

April 23 2021

The owners of this almost-300-year-old Dutch colonial loved the well-preserved interiors of the original house, but found it difficult to live in. The rooms were beautiful, but small and dark. They wanted a new kitchen and a family room that had both light and a feeling of spaciousness. They were comfortable with a radical modern departure, but somehow wanted the new addition to relate back to the original house in its scale and finishes.

A further challenge to the new addition was the approach: oddly, the driveway approached the house from what was meant to be the side, making an odd collection of side-gables the house’s new face. A design was chosen that would accentuate this odd condition rather than nullify it, and another gable was added–this one in the language of a brutalist take on a Dutch barn. Although modern, the new addition related to the original house by picking up the distinctly steep Dutch roof pitch of the original house and the humble language of the property’s other farm buildings. Careful consideration was paid to the scale of the building to make it as big as possible without overpowering the rest of the small house.

On the interior, the two rooms were treated differently. Since the kitchen abutted the old Dutch rooms, it was designed to be a visual transition to the between the old and the new. The kitchen, though thoroughly modern in concept, used moody colors, historically appropriate soapstone and milled MDF board construction to hearken primitive colonial cabinetry. The use of wooden stiles that protrude but don’t extend to the floors reference early American furniture legs without creating a trip hazard.

The new addition went one step further. Although a small room–only 20′ x 16″–the polished concrete floors, cathedral ceiling and softly whitewashed boards create a sense of light and volume. The boards were applied both horizontally and vertically to create an unexpected pattern. The collar ties were drilled with holes so that the dining pendant and ceiling fan could pass through them.

Design: The Art of Building
Build: The Art of Building


The Art of Building is a design-oriented construction and development firm. We are not licensed architects or engineers. We use third-party licensed architects and engineers whenever required or otherwise appropriate, and provide our clients with full transparency as to their involvement in the development process and their payment for these services.