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Photo credit Gross & Daley

The initial telephone call inquired about my interest in working on a “home on a pond in Westchester”.

It was many months later the prospective clients came into NYC to meet with me to talk about their project.  As it turned out, while the site did overlook a pond, the pond was adjacent to the Long Island Sound and the very distinctive property had fantastic and dramatic water views!

The neighborhood has many fine 19th and early 20th century homes with abundant mature landscaping, however the existing house on their property was an undistinguished 1950’s “sorta – Colonial” house, with a conventional layout that did not take advantage of the striking water views.  The house could have been almost anywhere in America.

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The owners had been through one complete design process with an architect that resulted in a design for an enormous home that did not suit their personalities, lifestyle or their budget. Through that process, the Owners’ were able to clarify what it was they were seeking in their new home.  They came across a book that resonated with them Creating a New Old House.  It is a thoughtful and beautiful illustrated book written by Russell Versaci, under the auspices of the American Institute of Architects.  The approach to learning and taking inspiration from the past to create a home for today was a solid conceptual place to start a project.

The existing house had many limitations, but after considering the opportunities the unique site and incredible views offered we became extremely excited!  There were however, significant challenges with zoning – demolition of the existing house would have required us to comply with new stringent regulations due to their proximity to the water, etc.

We served as the Design Directors for the project overseeing the efforts of local architect Gregg DeAngelis, to develop plans for a significant renovation.  Extensive attention was given to the architectural planning, details and lighting to give the home a rich and authentic feeling. The scope of the project stretched the definition of ‘renovation’ to the limit; at one point there were only a few framed walls and part of the roof remaining!

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The clients’ aspiration was primarily a home for them. While both are ‘retired’ they lead very active ’empty-nester’ lives, but that did not include regular entertaining. The interior layout was developed to maximize the owners’ experience of the ever-changing views of the water from morning until night.


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Photo credit Gross & Daley

Furnishings, artwork and accessories integrate some existing furnishings with custom carpets, upholstery and lighting.  We chose period antiques to create a very comfortable and relaxed new old house.

My clients enjoy their morning coffee in a lovely Breakfast Room with windows on three sides and a view to the water (shown above); each of them have desks (in separate rooms) with water views; the Den has a lovely water view, and so too does the Master Bedroom.  The Dining room is set deeper into the house and was developed more as an evening room with a rich wall color and with 12 foot ceilings.

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Custom Powder Room Wallpaper from The Alpha Workshops

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Photo credit Gross & Daley

The property is elevated above the water and had some existing mature plantings which created wonderful opportunities for a complex and varied landscape design that took advantage of the setting. Working with landscape designer Billie Cohen some dramatic changes were made to the site, and extensive plantings were added helping the home to settle comfortably into the property and the neighborhood, but most importantly, taking advantage of the views and providing various opportunities to enjoy the outdoors!


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Photo credit Gross & Daley

With my long-term interests in historic American homes, and what it takes to create a home that is comfortable for the body, the mind and the eye, this was a project that I felt well-suited to. The clients’ warm, friendly and understated values were the basis for creating a home that fits comfortably into an established neighborhood and  is warm, friendly and understated inside and out.

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Photo credit Gross & Daley

P.S: The Owners have told me that they are so happy and content to be in their home that they have notes on their computers to remind them to leave, and go out into the world. Hearing about that level of domestic contentment makes me feel happy that the shoe really does fit!

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Photo credit Gross & Daley

And finally, if you’d like to learn more about this projects, follow the link to its publication in the current issue of Trends magazine – also on newsstands.