House Tour: Harmonizing a New Addition with a Traditional House

A beautifully styled Evanston home stays true to its traditional roots as it expands.

North Shore homeowners—we’ll call them Jennifer and Matt—have a beautifully decorated home that centers around their collection of colonial-era Americana. When Leader Builders added a large new kitchen and a mudroom to the back of the house, we wanted to make sure we honored their traditional taste. As we take you through their project, here are some tips for marrying old and new construction for a cohesive look:

1. Match the existing facade to make the addition look like it has been there all along - but also consider practical alternatives. The homeowners have sage green painted wood siding and they wanted to match the existing facade as closely as possible, but they also wanted something lower maintenance. They chose a wood grain effect vinyl siding in the same color which blends nicely.

Green facade

2. Finish/refinish all the floors in the same stain to unify old and new rooms. In addition to installing matching oak flooring in the kitchen, we refinished the hardwood floors throughout the first floor. Jennifer and Matt chose a custom stain in a medium tone which complements their traditional furnishings. A cohesive floor aids the flow between rooms, and now all the rooms feel new.

Refinished floors

3. Match the baseboard trim and crown molding throughout the house. Traditional houses often have taller and more ornate baseboard trim as well as crown molding, and carrying that same trim into the new addition goes a long way towards integrating the room and giving it a historical feel. What if the trim is no longer available? Contour gauges are a useful tool that we can use to take an impression of your trim so it can be replicated.

Baseboard trim and crown molding

4. Consider windows that combine a traditional look with modern efficiency standards. In keeping with the colonial theme and the existing windows, we installed divided-lite windows in the new addition. While true divided-lite windows have multiple panes of glass separated by muntins, you can also get ones that simulate the effect but are composed of a single pane for energy efficiency.

Divided lite windows

5. Blend the best of current trends and traditional styles. Jennifer and Matt tell us that everyone who sees the new kitchen compliments it. It’s easy to see why. This is a kitchen that combines some traditional elements with some that are popular today, so it appeals to people of many tastes. White cabinets and island seating are trends the homeowners embraced. But in addition, they chose inset cabinet doors and drawers, which are a great touch that showcases traditional craftsmanship.

White kitchen cabinets

They also have high-end modern appliances including a professional range and double-stacked ovens. But instead of going with the widely available stainless steel options, they chose white appliances which harmonize with the cabinets.

White kitchen appliances

For the walls, Jennifer and Matt chose a vertical shiplap. This traditional material is experiencing a comeback as an interior finish, so it was the perfect choice to blend new and old.

Shiplap walls

6. Incorporate existing decorations into the new space. The homeowners have colonial-era artwork hanging up throughout their house. When the kitchen addition was finished, they brought some of the artwork into the kitchen, which keeps the feel of the rooms consistent.

Colonial Americana artwork

When you walk into the kitchen, a stunning copper pendant light above the breakfast nook catches your eye. Originally a lantern that Jennifer found at a flea market, she saw its potential and had it rewired. There are so many interesting options for pendant lights these days, but this is a truly unique piece.

7. Don’t discount past technology either. In the new mudroom, practicality abounds. Two glass-paned doors let the parents keep an eye on who is coming or going without letting drafts into the house. The built-in coat rack with a bench and individual cubbies keeps the family organized. But one of the most practical features is an old one- the radiator, which provides a steady heat source for drying nearby wet shoes.

Mudroom radiator and built-in cubbies

Jennifer and Matt gained a beautiful new kitchen that doesn’t skimp on modern amenities - there’s plenty of countertop and storage space, recessed and undercabinet lighting, and high-end appliances - but it also doesn’t clash with the traditional, colonial style of the rest of their home. By following the tips above, we made sure it blended well with the existing rooms. In fact, the addition offered some opportunities to enhance the traditional character of the other rooms.

If you would like to learn more about our design-build home addition and renovation services or find out how we can help with a project you have a mind, please get in touch.