Design: A Home Before and After After Baby Makes Three


I can’t think of a happier reason to plan an addition for a young couple than their planning for the first addition to their family. Spence and Kristen Stovall retained me several years ago to help them expand their first home in time for their baby’s arrival.

Spence’s grandfather was one of the founding partners of Higgins and Spencer. He built a family compound with a two story brick Colonial on the Miles River and a guest house on a separate adjoining parcel. Eventually Spence’s parents moved from the guest house to the Colonial house. After their marriage, Spence and Kristen moved into the guest house which was the size of a three-car garage. The first floor contained a living room, dining room, kitchen and bath. The second floor was partially finished with two small bedrooms and another bath.

Spence and Kristen’s priorities for the first floor expansion were to have a large kitchen with seating, a dining room to accommodate family gatherings and a workshop for Spence. The rear living room which was the width of the house would remain as-is with new French doors to replace the older sliding units. The second floor would be expanded to add two additional bedrooms, a second bath and a playroom.

The lot was a typical narrow urban lot so the only options with the Critical Area restrictions were to expand the front toward the street and widen one side of the house. The house’s footprint retained its simple geometry and the roof became the major design element with large gable walls and double windows on the sides of the house. Old and new construction were connected by a wing with shed dormers on each side. Another full length shed dormer at the rear elevation added much needed head room for expanded views to the harbor below. A new front porch was tucked under the second floor expansion facing Spence’s parents’ house for family visits.

The ground floor addition contained a large kitchen, a seating area with windows facing the harbor, an office area, storage for toys, and a dining room. Revising the “L’ shaped stair to a “T” zoned the second floor into the master suite at the rear and children/ guest rooms at the front. A large second bath with a playroom completed the second floor expansion. Enlarging the master bedroom gave Spence and Kristen much needed closet space.

The house was completed in time for the baby’s arrival and the third and fourth generations of Spencers lived happily ever after…

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Architect: Jennifer Martella, Wittman
Site Engineer: Rauch Engineering, Easton
Interior Design: Higgins and Spencer, St. Michaels
Contractor: Alchemy Works, Easton
Photography: Nanny Trippe, Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery, Easton

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