Before & After: A Cape Cod-Style Home Becomes a Modern Marvel

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By Amy Dvorak
An architect remodels his 1949 Cape Cod-style home in Portland, Oregon, to fit the needs of his growing family.

What happens when an architect outgrows a home? It started simply enough with the idea of adding a bath. Then a dormer. Then, nearly 20 years and hundreds of sketches later, that vision morphed into a remodeled dream home—that sits on the same footprint. 

"The designer in me was not going to be satisfied fitting a single program in a space that was already inefficient," says Matt Loosemore, homeowner and Principal at SUM Design Studio + Architecture. "Then I thought, let’s take off the roof. Then I talked to contractors, and it was apparent that for a little more money, we could redo it all." And that’s exactly what they did. 

Loosemore stripped the former three-bedroom, two-bath Cape Cod down to a single wall and subfloor, and then gradually turned it into a contemporary, five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home that would better adapt to the family of four and pooch. "It functions in the way we live," says Loosemore. "We get to live how we live versus having a house that defines the way we live." Read on to learn more about the renovation.

Before: The Exterior

Architect Matt Loosemore remodeled this home to better fit the lifestyle of his wife, two children, and dog. 

Architect Matt Loosemore remodeled this home to better fit the lifestyle of his wife, two children, and dog. 

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Due to code, the remodel required leaving one existing wall, the subfloor, and the foundation to avoid full demolition. That route helped the architect avoid new zoning restrictions that would have resulted in a more narrow, taller home not befitting the integrity of the neighborhood. 

Due to code, the remodel required leaving one existing wall, the subfloor, and the foundation to avoid full demolition. That route helped the architect avoid new zoning restrictions that would have resulted in a more narrow, taller home not befitting the integrity of the neighborhood. 

The original home was around 2,500 square feet with two bedrooms and three bathrooms. The team added 500 square feet during the remodel.

The original home was around 2,500 square feet with two bedrooms and three bathrooms. The team added 500 square feet during the remodel.

After: The Exterior

The new home sits on the same footprint, however it gained two bedrooms and another bath and a half. One challenge was extending the cantilevers as far as possible to add more square footage.

The new home sits on the same footprint, however it gained two bedrooms and another bath and a half. One challenge was extending the cantilevers as far as possible to add more square footage.

Before: The Upper Floor

The remodel started after Matt Loosemore considering adding a bathroom to this attic, which served as one bedroom.

The remodel started after Matt Loosemore considering adding a bathroom to this attic, which served as one bedroom.

After: The Upper Floor

"Being in a small house with kids and a dog, it’s hard to find places of tranquility." The solution: a private deck off the master bedroom.

"Being in a small house with kids and a dog, it’s hard to find places of tranquility." The solution: a private deck off the master bedroom.

Before: The Living Area

During the remodel, the family moved out for four months into a 600-square-foot home. "We clearly learned that was not enough space for us," said homeowner and architect Matt Loosemore of SUM Design Studio + Architecture.

During the remodel, the family moved out for four months into a 600-square-foot home. "We clearly learned that was not enough space for us," said homeowner and architect Matt Loosemore of SUM Design Studio + Architecture.

After: The Living Area

"We installed a lot of ceiling-to-floor glass and connections with the window systems that may have been atypical but so we could include as much glass as possible," says homeowner and architect Matt Loosemore of SUM Design Studio + Architecture. Since the design was not for a client, he says, "We skirted around recommended detailing, but it was for our own use, so we were happy to explore alternatives." 

"We installed a lot of ceiling-to-floor glass and connections with the window systems that may have been atypical but so we could include as much glass as possible," says homeowner and architect Matt Loosemore of SUM Design Studio + Architecture. Since the design was not for a client, he says, "We skirted around recommended detailing, but it was for our own use, so we were happy to explore alternatives." 

"The home functions in the way we live. We’re able to take advantage of entertaining, and our youngest can even sprint through the home," said Loosemore. The remodel also allowed them to reduce artificial light, as the open space and large windows allow in much more natural light.

"The home functions in the way we live. We’re able to take advantage of entertaining, and our youngest can even sprint through the home," said Loosemore. The remodel also allowed them to reduce artificial light, as the open space and large windows allow in much more natural light.

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After: The Master Bedroom

"I like to tell clients that good design doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be thought out, and the end user has to be happy," says Loosemore.

"I like to tell clients that good design doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be thought out, and the end user has to be happy," says Loosemore.

After: The Master Bath

The renovation added just 500 square feet, but the family went from two bedrooms and three bathrooms to five bedrooms and three and a half baths.

The renovation added just 500 square feet, but the family went from two bedrooms and three bathrooms to five bedrooms and three and a half baths.

After: The Backyard

The family prioritized outdoor space, as their home serves as a central gathering place for the neighborhood. 

The family prioritized outdoor space, as their home serves as a central gathering place for the neighborhood. 

Says Loosemore, "We designed it to accommodate friends," which was also the impetus for remodeling versus moving to a new home. They were the youngest family when they arrived in 1999. "Our neighborhood became our best friends." The neighbor behind them completed a modern renovation that paved the way for their new design while considering the context of the neighborhood, which is an eclectic mix of ranches, Cape Cods, and other styles of homes. To respect what is there, Loosemore lowered the home by two inches to keep within the scale of the neighborhood.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: SUM Design Studio + Architecture / @sumdesignstudio

General Contractor: O'Brien & Company Construction

Structural Engineer: Hayden Consulting Engineers