Two weeks ago we introduced you to this story of a home (click here to read Part One) that went through an amazing transformation. This week we’ll fill in a few more of the details and more importantly, we’ll show you the results of this homeowner’s dedication to a neglected house that “called out to her” for help. As we told you in Part One, this project took on special meaning for the owner. She moved from a large colonial home on acreage but was ready to enter a new phase of her life. This life-changing experience led her to think “outside of the box” and presented her with an opportunity to create a new way of life and living. She embraced it!
FIRST – SOME HISTORY & BACKGROUND
One of the reasons this house spoke to the homeowner was its very interesting history. This wasn’t just some run of the mill 1950’s house…it was a Carl Koch Techbuilt modular home. Carl Koch, considered the “grandfather” of pre-fab modular home building, attended the Harvard School of Design in the late 1930’s. However, the development of his own professional philosophy and style came during a six-month tenure in Sweden when he studied with Sven Markelius. This led to Koch’s admiration for not only Scandanavian design and architecture (simple, clean & functional) but also a new approach to life and democracy. Launched in 1953, Koch’s Techbuilt Houses were incredibly popular and were eventually available in twenty-two models. Koch’s houses could be constructed at the time (on average) for $7.50/sf, as compared to $10/sf for a conventional house and $15/sf for a custom-built house. Over 3,000 houses were sold in the U.S. before 1963. At least three were built in New Canaan, CT (and of course this one was built in Litchfield county) but the highest concentration of remaining Techbuilt homes were built in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.
The Techbuilt house was based on a consistent four foot wide module for all major building components such as wall, floor, and roof panels. The pieces were delivered by truck and could be erected in a few days. The Techbuilt homes, which include both one and two-story models, are characterized by simplicity of shape, pitched roofs and overhanging eaves and the extensive use of glass, especially on the wide glazed gabled ends. The exteriors of the houses are typically clad in vertical cedar siding with panels between the stories. The Techbuilt houses incorporated various structural innovations including the use of modular prefabricated stressed skin panels rather than conventional framing and the use of steel posts and wooden beams for support rather than load bearing walls. In keeping with Techbuilt philosophy, the houses are typically set into a natural and wooded landscape. In some cases the owners also purchased carports or garages.
The Techbuilt House was featured in various national publications including Better Homes and Gardens and Parents Magazine and was awarded the American Institute of Architects “Best Development House” Award. By the end of 1957, Techbuilt homes had been constructed in thirty-two states. — from ModernMass.com (read the entire piece here)
It’s no wonder our homeowner felt this neglected gem was worth saving…
and save it she did!!
Of course, readers might guess that I’d be attracted to this home. I love Scandanavian design (and their way of life) and I’m a big believer in simplicity and small, well-thought-out homes. Clearly, Carl Koch was way ahead of his time.
WE’LL LET THE PHOTOS TELL THE REST OF THE STORY
FIRST FLOOR NOW
Library/Study • Sitting Area • Half Bath • Laundry
The black and white cabinets (with gold pulls) open to a fully equipped work desk. Love the bamboo flooring!
The original house, as well as the renovation design, takes advantage of clever, space-saving built-ins.
And speaking of designing…I must give big kudos to the Salisbury-based designer, Beverly Reich, who was responsible, in large part, to this amazing transformation. Beverly is retired now but worked with the owner on two previous homes. This home, however, is totally different in style and scale. I have been a huge fan of Bev’s over the years, but this project really shows the range of her talent and impeccable style and taste. Truly, I loved everything about the home…it has an amazing spirit and energy.
SECOND FLOOR NOW
Living Room • Dining Room • Kitchen • Master Bedroom & Bath
Living Room Details
Master Bedroom & Bath
DECK & EXTERIOR
OTHER FAVORITE DETAILS
Seeing homes like this makes me want to go back (or forward) in time when we all could think and live more simply. Do we need so much “stuff”? (This being said by the owner of a store that sells stuff!) That said, I think of good design as only buying things you love that you’ll have for life. That’s what we strive for at Hammertown.
So, for all of you who, like me, believe that houses have a way of calling for help and have the vision to see beyond these neglected gems, know there is beauty and a whole new life out there for these homes and their new homeowners. My advice: GO FOR IT!
NOTES | REFERENCES
Builder: Chris Lancto
Designer: Beverly Reich
Large living room arc floor lamp: DBO Home, Sharon CT
Pottery Dishes: DBO Home
Dining Room Artisinal Table: Geoff Holmes (Holmes Fine Furniture), Sheffield, Mass.
Small Sculpture of “Magpie on Acorn”: Peter Woytuk, Argazzi Art Gallery