A window-filled tower helps an old Victorian house see the light
“Semidistressed” isn’t usually a term on a first-time homebuyer’s wish list, but for Daniel Thomas, it signified opportunity. When he purchased an 1888 Victorian in Portland, it was a run-down version of its former self. “Eleven-foot ceilings were hidden under low drywall. It was stripped of ornamentation, save for some windows and a few doors,” says Thomas. Worst of all, it still had the tiny, fractured rooms typical of the era, so it brought in almost no natural light.
Thomas, co-owner of green building firm Hammer & Hand (hammerandhand.com), decided to banish the shadows in an unconventional way—with a three-story tower that functions as a light well at the back of the house. He hired Leela Brightenburg and Alissa Pulcrano of Bright Designlab (brightdesignlab.com) to create the tower and to play up the then-and-now polarity in the interior decoration. Today, new additions mix with restored historical details to help the old home feel ahead of its time.