Architect’s transformation of Weymouth antique worth its wait in bold

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Architect Nima Yadollahpour and his wife, Shireen, purchased the Weymouth fixer-upper in 2004, renovated it, and then, when house hunting proved fruitless, added on. Nima Yadollahpour

It was supposed to be a five-year project.

That’s what architect Nima Yadollahpour, principal of ONY Architecture, and his wife, Shireen, an art educator, had planned when they purchased an antique 1,500-square-foot fixer-upper in Weymouth in 2004. “Weymouth was affordable,’’ Yadollahpour said, “and there was a master plan for Weymouth Landing just down the hill that indicated all sorts of ­development, including a new commuter rail station.’’ So, the pair packed up their Charlestown apartment and headed for the South Shore, ready to renovate the home, which was built in 1838.

The home, which was built in 1834, before the renovations. —Nima Yadollahpour

Fast-forward to 2010. Yadollahpour had renovated 90 percent of the house, inside and out, as the architect and designer, as well as the general contractor and finish carpenter. Still, with the economy still recovering from a recession, and the birth of the couple’s first daughter (now 7 years old), it was hardly an ideal time to sell. With the arrival of daughter number two (now 4) in 2013, they undertook an 18-month house hunt, to no avail. Last year, the family decided to stay put. “Why buy in a heated real estate market when you can completely transform your existing home on a modest budget?’’ Yadollahpour said.

Over the years, Yadollahpour had redone the kitchen and bath on the first floor, as well as remove a wall between the living room and dining room to create a more open layout. With the expansion of their family, they also needed a casual place to eat in the kitchen (four people huddling around the peninsula wasn’t cutting it), a sitting room, and an outdoor living area to use in the nicer months.

They also wanted a ground-floor guest room suite for their aging parents, who liked to visit but didn’t live nearby, as well as another bedroom upstairs so each girl could have her own space.

With careful planning, Yadollahpour estimated that he could check off the whole list by adding about 1,000 square feet to the house, not including the basement. He designed a two-story, 1,020-square-foot addition with a sitting room doubling as a guest room on the ground floor and a new master suite above. To solve the dining dilemma, he would build a 40-square-foot breakfast nook off the kitchen.

The siting of the addition was a little trickier. It made sense to build onto the back of the house off the kitchen. However, Yadollahpour and his wife enjoyed the easy outdoor access from the kitchen, as well as the ability to see the kids out the window from there. To maintain these features, Yadollahpour designed an L-shaped addition that cradles a new courtyard-like mahogany deck. Now the kitchen window not only overlooks the deck (a.k.a. the new outdoor living room), it peers straight into the addition’s bonus room, where the girls often play.

On the exterior, the addition meshes with the original house while imparting a contemporary bent. The scale of the new portion matches that of the existing, as does the slope of the rooflines.

To prevent the house from appearing too block-like, Yadollahpour used two treatments on the façade. Pre-dipped cedar shingles clad most of the house, save for elements that are pushed in (like the deck entry door) or pop out (such as the breakfast nook), which have vertical cedar tongue-and-groove slats.

To further break up the volume, Yadollahpour pushed the second floor of the addition to the right, cantilevering it over the bonus room base. The modification created hollows in which Yadollahpour assigned function. He slotted a balcony alongside the left wall of the master suite, and on the far right, an overhang provides shelter over the back door.

“The shift of the roof is the biggest design gesture,’’ he said. “It also increased square footage in the master without affecting the footprint.’’

The interior architecture is clean and spare. A glass door opens from the deck into the new double-height entry hall, which connects the old part of the house to the new. Durable, large-format porcelain floor tiles ground the space and set off the simple-yet-sculptural white oak stairway. Its risers and treads are flush, as if a single piece of wood had been folded onto the base. The base itself is faced with quartersawn white oak, a recurring design feature. (Quartersawn logs have a very linear grain rather than the more typical wavy one.)

“The stairway has a straightforward design that was not too challenging,’’ Yadollahpour said. “I wanted it to feel modern and continuous.’’

Down the hallway, a custom floor-to-ceiling quartersawn white oak door slides open to reveal the airy new sitting room. The oak panel remains rolled back into the room most of the time, and the large opening makes for an easy flow. If either of the couple’s parents are visiting, however, the panel slides closed to create a guest room, complete with full bath.

A system of folding glass-door panels by NanaWall — the project’s big splurge — allows a seamless transition to the deck, which is flush with the sitting room floor. The panels fold like an accordion to create a unified living space that blurs the line between indoors and out.

The side of the house before the addition. —Nima Yadollahpour
Nima Yadollahpour designed an L-shaped addition that cradles a new courtyard-like mahogany deck. —Nima Yadollahpour

The new master suite is located directly above the sitting room. Here, Yadollahpour used quartersawn walnut to fashion the platform bed with integrated night stands. The wood treatment also wraps up along either side of the dormer and onto the window ledge. A trio of vertical stainless-steel strips breaks up the wood expanse, a detail used elsewhere in the house, including on the oak slider in the sitting room and the wood ceiling in the breakfast nook.

As expected, the addition addressed all the family’s needs neatly and efficiently, except one: They still did not have a casual place where they could sit together to eat.

Yadollahpour had gutted the home’s original dysfunctional kitchen seven years ago. He had tweaked the layout, replaced the floor tiles with 5-inch-wide white oak planks, swapped out dated brown wood cabinets with white Shaker-style ones, and restyled the peninsula, but had been unable to integrate an eating area into the existing footprint.

Echoing the simple linearity of the master suite dormer, Yadollahpour designed a box that bumps out from the kitchen that is just large enough to accommodate a restaurant-style booth. On the exterior, the vertical cedar slat-clad box completes the overall composition of the elevation, balancing out the addition’s second story. Inside, the effect is transformative. The 6-foot-wide opening, which allows natural light to stream in from three sides, makes the kitchen feel expansive. It also lets Yadollahpour and his wife keep an eye on the girls, no matter where they are in the yard.

The kitchen before the renovation. —Nima Yadollahpour
The architect designed a box that bumps out from the kitchen that is just large enough to accommodate a restaurant-style booth. —Nima Yadollahpour

During this round of renovations, Yadollahpour also demolished a full bathroom and laundry area in order to enlarge the dining room, which now opens into the kitchen. He banished the laundry to the new basement under the addition, and put a pantry in its place. The living room, with the dark bamboo feature wall he built a few years ago, remains intact.

At long last, the house is complete. It works perfectly for a young family of four and looks just the way they dreamed. Yadollahpour said they plan to stay for the foreseeable future, at least until the kids are older.

But he admits that forever is a long time.

“I’d like to live in Tuscany,’’ he said. “Anything can happen.’’

Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at Send comments to Subscribe to our free newsletter on real estate, home repair, and design at