VICTORIAN HOUSES SPECIALIZED IN SMALL SPACES, tall ceilings and a kind of complexity lacking in many contemporary homes. For Sandy Berler, the charm of her Chevy Chase home and its light, airy site close to Washington attracted her nearly two decades ago, long before the current passion for Victoriana.
Rather than move, Berler has adapted the house to her changing needs, renovating the kitchen and attaching a large living room to the rear. The most recent addition was designed to meet two distinct needs.
Berler, a private dealer in fine contemporary photography, needed a place to show clients and friends her collection. After working in an alcove in her bedroom for years, she wanted a genuine home office as well as a place to store the works of artists she represents. At the same time, she also needed a guest suite.
Berler turned to architect Win Faulkner of Wilkes Faulkner Jenkins & Bass to help with this latest project. He had transformed the layout of the house several years ago, making a dramatic living room addition that faced the yard and turning the small front parlor into a music room and library.
Unlike many of Faulkner's projects, the scale for the Berler addition was small and the object was to create modest spaces that were in keeping with the existing turn-of-the century architecture. The one-story peaked roof echoes the roof line of the main house, complete with a rounded triangular window. The bay window in the office portion of the addition also repeats a similar feature in the main house.
In keeping with Victorian design, none of the spaces are large. The front entrance has been redesigned to accommodate more closet space. The large room has a partial cathedral ceiling with a clerestory window providing excellent light for viewing photographs. A ledge runs around the room so that different photos can be propped up and discussed.
At the center of the room, in deference to its other use, is a convertible sofa. Off to one side is a bath with shower. The small office fits at the front of the house, dominated by a bright bay window. Because the house is on a busy street, landscape architects Oehme and Van Sweden designed an intimate front garden behind a low stone wall. Not only has the addition created a new working and living space, but it has given Berler an opportunity to enjoy her front yard as well.