• The alternating tread staircase, made from oak and maple, attaches to the side of a built-in refrigerator. It comes in handy as a way to reach cookbooks, which are shelved on the kitchen side of the loft space.

    Credit: Anice Hoachlander/Hoachlander Davis

    The alternating tread staircase, made from oak and maple, attaches to the side of a built-in refrigerator. It comes in handy as a way to reach cookbooks, which are shelved on the kitchen side of the loft space.

reader & swartz architects, winchester, va.

Too many books. That's what prompted this husband-and-wife team of architects to design an inventive shelving arrangement based on the stud system of their late '60s tract house.

Here's how it works: The library in this renovated house is built into the gable-end walls of a loft space. The original wood studs, which act as a skeleton for the library shelves, were completely stripped, and new birch-veneer plywood-faced panels were mounted to the outside face of the studs. The studs were stained and new 2x2 horizontal wood ledgers were screwed to them. The old studs and new ledgers form a skeleton grid into which multicolored wood shelves were inserted.

Got that? Not to worry; it took the carpenters who worked on the renovation a while to get with the program too. “They really did not want to keep those studs,” says Beth Reader. “They told us we were totally nuts, that we were ruining things. They even tried to tear them off when we weren't there. Not too long ago, one of them came back to the house and said, ‘I thought you all were crazy to keep those studs, but I've got to say that they're just beautiful.'”

principals in charge / project architects: Beth Reader, AIA, and Chuck Swartz, AIA, Reader & Swartz Architects
general contractor: David Goode, David L. Goode Inc., Winchester, Va.
project size: 30 by 30 feet
construction cost: $165 per square foot
photographer: Anice Hoachlander/Hoachlander Davis Photography

  • Credit: Anice Hoachlander/Hoachlander Davis