|Essex House On This Old House|
The grade-level porch and a 36-inch-wide front door support people with impaired mobility. "Because the house is perched on a hill, we had to rework the sheathing, framing, and foundation to bring the walkway flush to this spot," says architect Sally DeGan.
The kitchen boasts easy-to-turn lever taps, cabinets with electric touch-to-open doors and drawers, and a flameless induction cooktop that cools instantly when a pan is pulled off a burner. Off-white walls and backsplash tile reflect natural light to brighten the space. Homey touches, such as tile borders around the windows and an island with furniture-like turned legs, make the space feel anything but institutional. Overhead, salvaged framing timbers were added as decorative accents to play up the steep gable and dramatic peaked ceiling.
The centerpiece of the spacious and sunny master bath is a curbless shower. Measuring 4 by 8 feet, it has room for both a person in a wheelchair and an attendant, and the fixtures are placed so that you can fine-tune the water temperature before stepping into the spray. One-inch hexagonal marble floor tile, with its tightly spaced grout lines, provides good grip underfoot. "It's both supportive and attractive," says designer Keith Musinski.
Flexible Open Plan
Once divided into small, dark rooms, the first floor's common spaces were joined into a big open space to allow furniture to be moved or reconfigured easily as the homeowners' needs change. Tom cut more window openings into the facade, so there's no need to flip on lights during the day. The bright, airy interior is warmed by oak floors stained chocolate brown and furnishings with texture and time-honored patina. Period touches remain as well: The fireplace was rebuilt using original and salvaged bricks, and the hearth tiles were removed for cleaning, then reinstalled.
Placing a master bedroom downstairs means no steps to negotiate. Though it isn't large, this one has enough space to maneuver around the bed, and an opening to the bath (not shown) can be closed off with a pocket door.