Small Projects | Big Transformations

it is not always necessary or feasible to demolish everything and start from scratch

At Atelier et Alia we take time to study and understand a project’s existing context so that we can work with it to draw on its strengths and overcome its weaknesses.

When it comes to a renovation with an especially tight budget, strategically incorporating existing elements allows for a more efficient and feasible approach, and the right small changes can be remarkably transformative.

The following four renovation projects exemplify efficient and strategic design solutions that are intrinsically informed by their context.


Extruding space for a growing family

The client’s desire was to tear down and rebuild, but the budget although healthy, wasn’t adequate to support that approach. Preserving the existing foundation and primary building structure will allow for a more efficient and feasible renovation project.  Through a series of key additions, and the reorganization of the floor plan, we are able to double the living area and accommodate the family’s growing needs and contemporary design aesthetic, while keeping the construction costs within a more affordable range.


Chugani for Website


Space planning for a casual lifestyle

This existing 2000SF Condo just needed a few small adjustments to the layout of the more public rooms to make a big impact for the new homeowners and their casual lifestyle.  We eliminated the redundant spaces (separate formal dining + breakfast area), removed the interior partitions for an open, airy and light-filled space, and we relied on the existing shifting ceiling plane to organize and redefine the new Dining, Kitchen and Living Zones.

17002-For Website


Capturing underutilized space

The goal of this project was to carve out space within the existing house for an adult “retreat”; a space the homeowners could call their own.  We were able to capitalize on the underutilized walk-up attic space and provide a simple upgrade of finishes incorporating a new hardwood floor, and white painted shiplap and drywall.  The treatment of the attic stair was to be celebrated as the moment of transition from the home to the retreat.  We conceptualized the stair as an extension of the original maple wood floors of the home that completely envelops you as you ascend, and is gradually perforated to literally lighten the material and bring light into the stairway as one arrives.

29 Woodbrier- Sketchup Model for website2

diagram of new stair paneling and guardrail


29 Woodbrier- Sketchup Model for website4

diagram of new stair paneling and guardrail


Programmed partition

The existing long narrow space (8’-0” x 38’-0”) was not functional for the new homeowners who wanted to subdivide it into two more manageable spaces.

Rather than partition the existing light filled space with a traditional solid wall, we proposed a custom built-in open bookcase, allowing for light and views to penetrate close to the ceiling and floor, while selectively blocking and filtering direct views of the new office space beyond.

Taking cues from the existing conditions, we tucked the bookcase into the space defined by one of the two arched beams at the barrel-vaulted ceiling.

The new wall is a double sided programmed partition and serves as a bookcase backdrop to the new library/sitting room, as well as the office beyond.



Library Render