Tavistock is the smallest town in New Jersey containing only three homes and a private golf course. The owners of one of the homes recently decided to remodel and expand the house for comfort and to add more room for family entertaining. Architect Thomas B. Wagner was hired for the project and now the home is a lot more spacious, light-filled and has a magnificent view of the golf course.
Golf is the main reason why Tavistock exists as its own borough in Camden County. "Tavistock is the smallest community in New Jersey," explains Wagner. "In 1921 they separated from Haddonfield because they weren't allowed to play golf on Sundays and alcohol was not allowed, so the golf course decided to secede from the town." With this history, it makes sense why the owners of this original house in Tavistock wanted a view of the main feature in their town.
Wagner began working on the project about four years ago and successfully designed the expansion while keeping with the style of the original house. Wagner explains, "I think the biggest challenge in my mind was trying to make the addition blend in well enough so that the house as a whole looks like it was designed from the beginning and not like an addition was put on."
The expansion of the left side of the house encompasses a new two-car garage on the lower level and a new Great Room upstairs with a tray ceiling, fireplace and a breakfast area. Wagner explains, "The clients wanted to remodel the house and add a Great Room that had a view of the golf course. At first we were going to do a larger version, including a first floor master suite in addition to the family room and the garage. We had planned for an elevator and we put in the shaft for the elevator but we didn't actually install it. The master suite on the first floor is under construction now."
The Great Room with its tray ceiling makes the space feel very open and airy and the windows above the bookshelves on the sides of the fireplace bring in a lot of light. "We had a lot of different designs for the ceiling in the Great Room where the tray ceiling is. Some of those ideas included doing a cathedral ceiling, another idea was to do something with a lot of big trusses in it, but I think this went along with the house a little bit more. With the tray ceiling we didn't have a ceiling that was really out of character with the house, so that's what we decided to do. We brought it down and created that little tray and had those inset windows on each side of the fireplace. It kept the character of the house and didn't create a room that was out of scale with the rest of it."
In the interior of the house, other changes included a new kitchen with a large island and granite surfaces, commercial appliances and inset cabinets. An enlarged foyer and curve stair was also newly decorated and furnished. Upstairs, a couple of the bedrooms were combined to create larger suite-style bedrooms on the second floor.
One particularly interesting feature on the exterior of the new section of the house is a doorway at the bottom of the chimney. Wagner explains, "The house has a lower level that walks out and we redid that space as well. One thing that I thought was fun to do is a doorway that goes into the garage from the driveway at the lower level. The doorway is under the fireplace, so from the outside you see a doorway at the bottom of the chimney, which is a little unique."
As part of the remodeling, some changes in materials were made to bring the house more up to date. Wagner explains, "The house had some nice stone and stucco materials on it and a lot of wood. The tudor boards were all wood at the time, but we changed a lot of that and instead used the new paintable Azek material that looks like wood. We did a lot of things to the house to make it more maintenance-free. We re-stuccoed a lot of the house, replaced the windows with Pella's Architect series windows and put new roofing on the house. We really remodeled the whole outside as well and the inside of the house, upgraded all the heating systems and air conditioning systems and tried to match the wood flooring as best as we could. We did all of this while keeping the character of the original house intact."
"The clients were great to work with. They gave me the flexibility to come up with something that would look right in the end. That's one of the good things about having a client that trusts your judgment. I also selected the builder who works a lot in the area who was terrific, and having them as part of the team made a big difference."