Tag Archives: lightwell

lightwell house


front This house built into a hill in the mid 1950s had a common layout where the entire living area is on a single floor above a garage and unfinished basement first floor. Upon entering the basement level, everyone was surprised to find 14′ high ceilings! An exterior stair is all that connected the two levels.  concrete retaining wallThe high ceilings result from this concrete retaining wall that was in place when the house was built in the 50s. concrete wallWith all the height the homeowner wanted to finish the area into a master bedroom suite, laundry room and new interior stair. The project was divided into two phases; the kitchen, stair and laundry room in phase I and master suite in phase II.  lightwellThis laundry room and lightwell would be eliminated to locate the new staircase. brick belowHere’s the underside of the existing terrazzo stairs – we had to break through one of the brick walls for a doorway in the new first floor layout, but the other wall was left exposed in the new laundry room. kitchen studsThis is the demolished kitchen. Behind plywood is the old lightwell.  The roof was about 3′ above the ceiling, so we raised the ceiling in the new kitchen. new landingDownstairs the new staircase approached the garage ceiling before the hole was cut in the floor above. That’s the new stair landing at the top of the ladder. stair stringerThe upper run completed the framing. new stairA view from the top of the new stairs near the kitchen.  walnut stairsSkipping ahead, here’s a view up the lower run of stairs from the basement hallway.  The first floor will have walnut flooring so we continued it up the stairs, while the existing second floor has oak floors. walnut slatsThe giant, ugly return-air grille would have to be located at the landing, so I decided to clad the walls with wood slats to obscure it.  Air can pass through the slats as it needs to, and you don’t have to see a metal grille on a sheetrock wall. from kitchenHere’s a view looking from the kitchen toward the new staircase with display shelves and a skylight above. The stair is located where the laundry room and lightwell used to be.  More to come!

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