A second challenge was the embankment, which rises about 30 feet behind the house.

Less than a mile and a half from the Delaware River as the hawk flies, a stone farmhouse looks southeast from its protected setting against a wooded embankment. An old deed, certain features and recent research dates the core of the now-5900sf home to 1736, while subsequent expansion and modernization have altered it considerably.

Ernst Brothers partnered with John Wolstenholme (Wolstenholme Architects, Doylestown) to bring the farmhouse into the 21st century with new life as a handsome, classically appointed guest house for the 30-acre property’s new owners.

By removing all but the most appealing or necessary portions of the structure, the architect was able to creatively reduce the square footage to just shy of the 2500sf township zoning ordinance limit for a “guest house.” This adaptation allows the owners to build another, larger home on the parcel in the near future—and preserve what remains of the historic structure that originally anchored this former farmland property.

“Three of the four bedrooms and bathrooms were retained,” says John Wolstenholme, “as well as the kitchen, dining room and living room. We are converting the solarium into an outdoor sculpture garden and replacing a four-season room with a new screened-in porch.

“By opening the sitting-room ceiling, eliminating the square-footage of that upper-story room, we found we could meet the township requirement.”

A second challenge was the embankment, which rises about 30 feet behind the house. Its protective embrace was als

o a looming presence, blocking natural light to the first story, especially later in the day.

Fourteen new skylights now invite abundant light into the kitchen and sitting room and open up a view of the wooded hillside outside.

Building new skylights for home renovation

Teaser for next post…

After a lot of tear-down and haul-out, we’ll talk next about how this 18th century farmhouse is taking shape amid construction challenges and creative solutions.

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