Blending Historic and Modern

May 20, 2018 | Home Decor

Louisville is filled with historic properties and neighborhoods, adding to the charm and character of this beautiful city. Here’s how one family living in an historic home had a modern addition.

Marcella Kragel, co-owner of Ina Marcella Events, is the proud owner of one of these beautiful properties in the Cherokee Triangle Historic District, where she lives with her husband and three children. A little over two years ago, Marcella and her husband Doug decided to add an 800-square-foot addition to their Victorian style home. Marcella hired Louisville architect Emily Paprocki of Rock Paper Hammer to design the addition and make her modern vision come to life.
“I found Emily online after searching for unique Louisville architects on and loved her past projects,” Marcella says. “She had a modern feel, but the craftsmanship and attention to detail reminded me of many of the historic details in our house.”

Emily is co-owner of the architecture and construction firm Rock Paper Hammer with her husband, Derek, whom she met in architecture school at Ball State University. After moving to Louisville in 2008, Emily’s love for design paired with Derek’s construction savvy led them to open their own firm focusing on both.

Specializing in custom residential design, Emily focuses on additions and renovations to existing homes in the Louisville area. She begins most projects meeting with her clients in their home to discuss budget and their vision for the project. Meeting in the home gives her the chance to see the space before initial design plans begin and to gather as much information about the family’s lifestyle, personalities, and personal style as possible. She then works together with the clients to develop concept drawings and ultimately create their ideal home.

Marcella’s house was originally built in 1883, so when design plans began for the modern addition, she had to make a conscious effort to create a space that flowed naturally together.

While she may not be an interior designer, Marcella is no stranger to creating and executing a plan. Her company, Ina Marcella Events, coordinates events of all kinds including weddings, corporate, private, and non-profit events.

“There are several things we have done to try to make the two styles harmonious,” Marcella says. “Inside, our overall decoration style is modern with some antique accents. Outside we reference the original hardwood floors in the addition’s accent wood siding and the front of the house was repainted in a modern color scheme with a bright orange door updating the Victorian style.”

Marcella and Emily worked together to create a simple, modern, and functional addition, allowing the Kragel family to remain in the home they had grown to love. The two-story addition includes a large living area on the main floor while the second floor serves as the new master suite.

“Often what I do is I say I will provide everything that is attached,” Emily says. “So, I will help with the tile, lighting, plumbing fixtures and that sort of thing that the general contractor supplies. In the case of this house, Marcella did most of the interior design…they wanted a very specific wood-burning stove and mantel style, and so I just drew what I knew she wanted.”

The design and construction of this addition did not come without its challenges. Since Marcella’s home is located in the Cherokee Triangle Historic District, Emily was required to present her design plans to an Architectural Review Committee and gain approval before construction could begin.

According to Emily, some historic districts require that any addition to the homes varies from the original style of the home, creating some differentiation between the original and new structures. While a modern design is not required, Emily likes to stick to a design that preserves the historic integrity of the property and creates a clear separation of the spaces.

“People think it’s hard or frowned upon to do something modern in a historic district, but it’s not,” Emily says. “It actually works well with the design guidelines we are required to follow. They [historic districts] want to be able to see where the original house was because it represents the scale of what the house would have been at the time it was built. If you just stretched the house and copied the existing materials and detailing, it would kind of look like it was always that big which isn’t exactly historically accurate.”

Emily and Marcella shared a great working relationship throughout the project, allowing for a very smooth transition from initial design concept to final product. Once the designs were drawn up and finalized, the project was handed over to TM Faversham of Deep Creek Builders to complete the construction of the project.

“Without Emily we would have never been able to achieve a result like this,” Marcella says. “She helped us stay on budget while still achieving our desired look. It was thanks to her clever ideas that we were able to maximize the space in our addition, without looking oversized or out of place in our neighborhood.”

“I really liked that the homeowners knew what they wanted, and I was able to provide it for them,” Emily says. “I think it ended up being pretty close to their original vision without having to make too many changes. I guess that’s my favorite part of any project, just being able to give them what they wanted.”

5 Reasons to renovate or add an addition
We talked to Emily Paprocki, owner of Rock Paper Hammer, about five reasons to renovate instead of buying new.

1. Neighborhood/Location: “Most of my clients want to be in the Highlands, or Crescent Hill, or Clifton, and they love the established neighborhood, and that’s where they want to be. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to build new in these older neighborhoods unless you buy a house and tear it down because there aren’t a lot of empty lots.”

2. Preserving Character: “If you really want that old house character, then you can have both, because you can keep what you like about the original part of your home…so people who love the original character of their home have a reason to add on.”

3. Nostalgia: “Some people want to keep a house because their kids were born there or sometimes it was their parent’s or grandparent’s home, so they want to keep the house and just need to update it.”

4. Sustainability: “Most of the foundation and infrastructure and materials are already in place. It’s extremely resource intensive to build a home, it’s also extremely resource intensive to remodel a home, but it is less so if you work with what is there. I consider it a greener alternative to remodel a home.”

5. Prior Investment: “Sometimes people have already invested a decent amount into their house and don’t want to move. They’ve already put some effort into being there. I know Marcella and Doug had already done a lot to their house and made it their own so renovating made sense.”

Project Timeline
How exactly does this process progress with an architect? Here’s how it worked on this project.

February — March 2016: Initial Consultation and Plans 
“Emily (Paprocki) came over and together we created a wish list,” Marcella says. “Initially I really wanted a fourth bedroom, but Emily quickly helped me realize we could more effectively maximize our space if we created more living space, than sleeping space.”

April 2016: Began Drafting Application to Architectural Review Committee (ARC)
“Emily was very thoughtful in creating a modern addition that would appeal to this group of people,” Marcella says. “We went over our first drawings, and nearly a month later we were looking at 3-D drawings.”

June 2016: Presentation to the ARC

July 2016: Introduction to TM Faversham 
“TM had lots of experience with old houses like ours, and I liked him immediately,” Marcella says. We got on his schedule and worked on a budget and a six-month building plan. I also started gathering some items. For instance I found our wood burning stove, a Morso 6700, on sale at Honest Home in NuLu prior to its move to
St. Matthews.”

August — September 2016: Pulling Permits and Scheduling Contractors

October 2016: Construction Began, Foundation Poured 
Mismarked underground utilities in city plans resulted in an early move for the Kragel family.
“Our water was shut off and everything had to be rerouted,” Marcella says. “I packed up our three kids and two dogs and off to my mom’s house we went. I hadn’t planned on us moving until early December.”

November 2016: Framing of Addition Executed 
With framing in place, Marcella was finally able to get a glimpse into what her modern addition would look like.

December 2016: First Real Walk-Through of the Addition 
“A floor we had originally planned to refinish turned out to be in worse shape than I thought, so while I had to adjust to replace it, it allowed me to get into the ceiling of the existing kitchen, something we originally didn’t think was possible,” Marcella says. “I was able to add much needed can lights to our kitchen ceiling, and to expand our new speaker system to the old house as well.”

January 2017: Electrical Placement and Choosing Finishes 
We were gifted a new soaking tub for Christmas by my dad to replace the old claw foot tub,” Marcella says. “It was originally in a downstairs bath when we moved in, but I never loved the idea of a tub off the kitchen. I had hoped to have it refinished, but it was sadly beyond repair.”

February 2017: Tile and Lighting Selections

March 2017: Floors and Walls Finished

April 2017: Paint and Interior Design Completed

April 25: Move-In Day 
Thanks to the diligent work of Emily and TM Faversham the Kragel’s were able to move in almost right on schedule.
“They were very punctual with returning feedback to me and giving me direction, and it was really a pretty quick project compared to some that I work on,” Emily says.


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