Old and new are well integrated. “I don’t like seeing modern shine in an old-house kitchen,” Steve says. He wanted quarter-sawn oak. LaFleche countered by suggesting they use oak only for the built-in pantry wall, complementing that with classic painted cabinets to keep the room light. The built-in pantry is made of rift-sawn oak with period details, and the new breakfast room has a beadboard ceiling, referencing secondary rooms in houses of the early 20th century. The master bathroom has a walk-in shower, but another kept its clawfoot tub. “I reused—refinished—as many of the existing light fixtures as I could,” Steve says. “In some cases I augmented them with similar reproductions from Rejuvenation.”
What was removed for upgrades did not go to a landfill. The radiators went to salvage, and other elements, including the 1965 kitchen, found new homes through greengoat.org. “Doors and lumber went to build a school in Kenya,” Steve reports, “and parts of the kitchen were sold to a family who wanted them for their mid-century house.” Replacing the windows, Steve admits, invites controversy. “I understand the preservation issues,” he says. “But it was a requirement for LEED certification, and I had other good reasons. I’m not a fan of exterior storms, for example.” The standard windows in this house were easy enough to reproduce using Pella Architect-series units. “Fenestration is the same—same size, same style. If the old windows were eight-over-one, that’s what the new ones are,” he says. The decision to use substitute shingles began with the necessity of removing the old ones. For one thing, they’d have needed stripping to hold new paint, and “the cost of lead abatement was prohibitive,” Steve says. Also, LEED certification required insulation, which meant house-wrap beneath the shingles. Using recently improved PVC shingles “was a risk I decided to take, an experiment,” Steve says.
“I’m aware that they won’t weather like cedar. But I did my research at trade shows and by visiting a couple of the houses in eastern Massachusetts where these shingles were used. Both my builder and my architect recommend the product.” Individual textural shingles are installed just like wood shingles. The finish color, chosen by the owner, is factory-applied, baked on, and has a UV-protective coating. The shingles should not fade or need paint for many years, though they are paintable.
The new smart-house system introduced 21st-century expectations. It allows occupants to control room temperature, lighting, music, television and video, garage doors, the ADT alarm system—all from multiple touchpads, from the big TV, and from anywhere using an iPhone. “Just by pushing a button on the touchpad,” Steve says, “I can light the house for ‘entertaining’ or ‘arrival’. I can set pre-programmed controls for ‘home,’ ‘away,’ or ‘vacation.’” The system can handle more. “I could put energy-monitoring software in the Control4 system,” he says. “I can add security cameras, and a sensor to let me know if there’s a water leak in the basement when I’m away.”Steve Snider believes that the builders a hundred years ago did a good job. When the house was ready for its centennial upgrade, Steve wanted to do his best to ready the building for the next hundred years. “I did not question my approach here,” Steve explains. “This was a renovation, not a restoration.”
Now, a hydro-air system with a single high-efficiency boiler provides domestic hot water and hot water for two air handlers, in basement and attic. Heating and air conditioning sharing ductwork are controlled by an automated system from Control4, with the application designed and installed by Simple Home in Westborough. This project received the building industry’s LEED Gold rating: Foundation, walls, and roof were insulated with closed-cell spray foam. Rainwater collected in an 11,000-gallon cistern on the roof supplies the irrigation system. All new wood was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. With the exception of a few art lamps, lighting is LED or CFL.