Add Nauseum

Seeing something done well stirs me.

For instance, every time I watch my husband, David, dig a hole I fall in love all over again. He's just so good at it; he moves gracefully and efficiently, removing dirt to create this perfect space that will be exactly the size and shape he intends. I'm impressed by the hundreds of holes he must have dug to have arrived with this hole-digging style. He must have studied someone else as he dug or taken the time to figure out how to move the spade just so in order to make those precise cuts that don't demand too much of his back. No hole is like any other before it; a person needs a certain amount of knowledge to dig a hole - each spot has its own composition of clay, dirt and sand. One might even have to deal with tree roots or rocks. The hole's architecture must also meet the needs of whatever will eventually go into it; a shrub and a post need entirely different types of holes.

While there is nothing particularly impressive about a finished hole (even the expert sort of hole Dave would be bound to dig), watching my husband dig moves me in the same way watching a ballet dancer, an artist or a really good handicapper moves me. A lifetime of knowledge and experience comes to this single moment where, to the watcher, the effort looks effortless and the participant no longer "thinks" about what he is doing. I believe some people refer to that moment as "working in the Zone."

I am moved in the same way to come upon a finished piece of work; the sort of accomplishment that when done, clearly shows that the creator was in that zone. I remember feeling that way about Pulp Fiction the first time I saw it. I have felt that way about many novels and poems and I felt it when I first saw Brancusi's "The Kiss" several years ago in Philadelphia. Upon seeing these works I felt, for a minute or two, that things were right in the world. Perhaps because the artists tapped into something universal (perhaps because I'm goofy and sentimental), the work seems to be proof of something; something good in people, something that strives for the best and greatest.

Which brings me (obviously) to Ren Scheuerman and Travis Lay's den and master bedroom addition to their house on Fontaine Road. Many houses in Ashland Park have additions. I have seen übur-contemporary additions and I have seen Palomar-inspired additions and I have seen just-plain-cheap additions. I have seen additions that tried hard (but failed) to match the original house and those that didn't even try at all, but I have never seen an addition as seamless as the one these boys added onto the back of their circa 1930 two-story brick house.

To begin with. they tore off a just-plain-cheap addition that was built several steps down from the kitchen and rebuilt the foundation on the same level. They floored everything with the same oak found in the rest of the house so that there is nothing underfoot to disclose the transition from old house to new. They then matched all the trim, including widows, doors and molding to those found in the original house. Built-in shelves hold collections of Texasware and antique aquarium castles.

One enters the downstairs portion of the addition through the dining area, which looks over the back garden directly from the kitchen. Going straight will land you in the back garden but turn the corner and you wind up in a surprisingly large, yet cozy space that is the den. Because you have to make the effort of turning the corner to get there, the den is a private destination.

Upstairs, the master bedroom with its oak floors and matching trim would feel as though it had always been there - if builders in 1930 cared about HUGE walk-in closets and custom-made marble topped farm-table vanities. The bedroom suite could be favorably compared to a room in a top-drawer Philippe Starck boutique hotel.

From top to bottom this addition shows tremendous effort, thoughtful design and a welcome dose of good taste. In other words, it looks as though Ren and Travis took years of experience (this is their fifth redo and Ren is an architect) to make something that strives to be the best and the greatest, proving that even a rec-room addition can be a thing of beauty.


1380 Fontaine


2700 square feet

4 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths

Contact: Suzanne Elliott


If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.