This project testifies about the longevity of a good house design, and the enjoyment that it brings to its owners. Thirty-five years after the firm originally designed this vacation residence, its new owners sought to rejuvenate the house while preserving its spaces, seasoned tones, and texture.
All Photographs courtesy of Chris Wesnofske
Clad inside and out almost entirely in twelve-inch wide cypress boards, the original house exuded a straightforward simplicity the owners wished to maintain. By constraining the palette of materials and reusing salvaged parts of the existing house, the line between new and old becomes nearly imperceptible, limited only to minimal inflections in finish.
In the enlarged and updated baths, and in the modernized kitchen and dining terrace, dense glacial sedimentary sandstone is used for its fine workability into a variety of finishes. In this way the stone varies subtly - only in texture - as it is reapplied from one surface to another: horizontal walking surfaces are rendered with a smooth honed finish, vertical wall surfaces with a rough flamed finish, and countertops in a glossy polished finish. This tactile language is traced consistently from room to room.
Little of the material seen in the addition is in fact new. As the south wall and deck of the house were dismantled to make room for the new construction, the cypress boards and cedar decking were carefully salvaged and machined into new siding, fine scrim material, stair treads and risers.
Reused, this cladding bears precisely the same patina as the other surfaces in the house - an effect truly impossible to achieve with new construction materials. Only on close inspection is new texture and color revealed at the boards' freshly cut edges.
In enhancing the simplicity of the original design, a subtle complexity has emerged. Splices, cuts, and finishing techniques inflect upon otherwise homogenous materials, recording the methods of craft and workmanship. Over the next thirty-five years the patina that naturally accrues over time will continue refine the delicacy of these inflections.
There is an undeniable earthy tone to this house, with the natural material used, and the green approach to its construction. The project earned a 2008 AIA Peconic Chapter Merit Award for Architecture/Renovations & Additions.