Residence Along the Hudson

New York

There’s an ideal structural expression for every residence, and the architect’s job is to define it, shape it, and bring it into being. How each of us does that depends on the particular circumstances, as well as our own aesthetic philosophies. Some of us prefer to enhance the existing essence, quirks and all. Others would rather smooth out the idiosyncrasies, aiming for symmetry and balance. Still others go for the tabula rasa approach. For this weekend house, a wonderfully eccentric accretion of a century and more that bellies up to the banks of the Hudson River, the client preferred the first. So did I. Here, that involved rebuilding the entire structure under its existing mansard roof, then cladding it in parging tinted to match the local Palisades stone.

The goal of the renovation was to maximize the house’s presence along the river. The porch is part of the effort to make the most of the riverside site. Designed for year-round use, it accommodates screens to replace glazing during the warm months. Cast-iron radiators are set into grate-covered troughs in the Palisades stone floor for radiant heat. French doors lead out to the pergola, and a pass-through window opens to the dining room.

On the living room’s north end is a fireplace with a honed slate firebox and antique limestone mantel. The walls are simple plaster. Handhewn beams articulate the ceiling. The stair hall steps down to the living room, where cabinetry casings align with the top of the doorway. The living room’s east elevation faces the Hudson. Two added windows, the house’s only in-swing casements, created wall space for art.

The kitchen ceiling features hand-hewn beams with plaster in-fi ll. Simple cabinetry frames out-swinging casement windows, each of which has a roll-down screen. Reclaimed wood planks line the floor. The kitchen, which opens to the dining room, houses a Rumford fireplace with a raised hearth that creates room underneath for wood storage.

The master bedroom faces the river. Three out-swinging windows with pull-down screens make the most of the view. In the master bath, a pair of single-glazed doors opens to the upstairs deck on the left and right sides of the vanity.

In the master bedroom, Harmon-hinged French doors open to the upstairs deck. The doors swing 180 degrees to pocket in perfect alignment with the sidelites. BELOW: The mansard roof was a given with the massing of the original house and a significant part of its charm. An Arts & Crafts pattern influenced the design of the balustrade. In addition to the French doors, the master bedroom also has a single screen door that leads to the attached deck.