With its stone foundation and half-timber framing, the Tudor-inspired house on the hill presented an enchanting countenance to motorists and passersby, but it wasn’t entirely what it seemed. Built in 1927 and nestled in a historic part of Larchmont, the modest structure concealed an interior very much at odds with its storybook facade. Ten years ago, a contemporary overhaul had nearly doubled its square footage but left the interior spaces feeling out of sync with their more traditional shell. “It was a myriad of styles, colors, textures and materials,” describes designer Kacy Ellis, slyly adding: “In other words, it was a total dream design job.”
Fortunately, the new owners shared Ellis’ enthusiastic view. For this family of Brooklyn transplants looking for a fresh patch of grass to call home, the dwelling answered a yearning for both more space and a change of venue for their two school-age daughters. More to the point, they were able to see the upside of the previous renovation, which had already bumped out the back of the house, creating spaces more suited to modern living. “It’s a special house in that the framework was all there, but it needed cosmetic work,” the husband says.
The initial brief included a total rewrite of the kitchen and baths, an updated back staircase, the addition of a new mudroom and laundry room, and the installation of new white oak floorboards throughout. (“At one point, you could stand in the kitchen and see four different kinds of flooring,” the wife recalls.) Architect Stephen Moser helmed the project, collaborating with Ellis on the interior finishes and millwork, while general contractor Bobby Noonan was hands on for carpentry and all aspects of the redesign. The scope quickly expanded into an extensive renovation of the entire house, which included converting a screening room on the third floor into a playroom for the kids. Finally, a later phase saw the creation of an attached pool house, outdoor kitchen and pool, as well as landscaping by John Imbiano.
One thing was clear: Streamlining the interior architecture and finessing the awkward transitions between the ’20s residence and its 2013 addition would be key to making the dwelling work in the present. “Because the house had been so substantially altered, we were lucky to be given a tabula rasa on the interior,” Moser says. “It’s in a historic area, but there’s also a legacy of these contemporary renovations, so in some ways we were threading the needle.”
Moser realigned passageways and enlarged the openings throughout the main level, creating an enfilade that unfolds with balletic ease. Once that orderly flow was established, the team turned to the material palette and found their muse in the home’s original stonework and oak paneling. Strategically exposing peeks of masonry throughout the new corridors created a link to the past while also providing a smoother segue between rooms. Equally important was bringing some of the contemporary flavor of the addition to the domicile’s historic front rooms—a task accomplished through the implementation of slatted oak dividers. “The screens were a way to define these spaces, create privacy and knit together the two very different parts of this house,” the architect notes.
To dress the interiors, Ellis draped the home in neutral swaths of cream and gray embellished with jewel tones: a tobacco sofa adds a warm punch to the living room, a garnet rug grounds the dining room and a wine-red pendant enlivens the entry like an exuberant swipe of lipstick. The wife, a passionate aesthete with a keen interest in furniture, wanted to play an active part in the decorating process—a designer-client scenario that doesn’t always bode well. But, as Ellis recounts, “her enthusiasm for design was palpable and infectious.” The two hit it off and their shared passion facilitated several shopping trips to BDDW, Egg Collective and The Future Perfect, where they scored some of the home’s most noteworthy furniture and lighting. Ellis wisely blended those statement pieces with vintage silhouettes for a look that feels fresh, curated and, above all, comfortable.
By the project’s end, the interiors’ evolution took on the color of an imaginary cocktail party where traditional became a little less buttoned up, contemporary assumed a softer stance, and both styles mingled happily into the wee hours. All in all, it’s a harmonious backdrop for a vibrant young family. “When people visit, they always say that the house is very modern, but it’s also inviting and approachable,” the wife says. “It feels good when others are able to sum it up perfectly like that—it makes us think we got it exactly right.”