A 19th-century Victorian home in the Hudson Valley is restored and expanded as a beautiful place for family gatherings.
The romance of a historic house can be different to the reality. Located on five acres in the Hudson Valley, a New York State region that follows the Hudson River from Westchester County to Albany, this Victorian home had not fared well after years of neglect and a series of unsympathetic renovations.
Brooklyn-based design firm Workstead had collaborated with the owner on two projects prior to this renovation. “This home was purchased in near disrepair,” recalls Robert Highsmith, co-founder and principal of Workstead. The brief called for large, open spaces where three generations could comfortably be together, including a kitchen and informal living areas.
A pavilion was conceived to accommodate these requirements, with a west-facing breezeway that serves as a casual entrance to the home. “The owner expressed concern that once the pavilion was complete, the 4,000-square-foot original home would be unappealing in its wake,” Robert says. As a result, the scope was increased to ensure the Victorian home was appreciated just as much as the addition.
A Penhaligon bath takes pride of place in the main bathroom, paired with Watermark fittings.
Workstead have successfully established two structures that are unique yet complimentary. “We saw it best to erect the pavilion in a way that ensured its height would not triumph that of the original architecture,” Robert says. The new volume is clad in the same clapboard as the original home but in a dramatic coal-coloured finish rather than soft ivory. The rounded corners on the pavilion contrast the mostly orthogonal Eastlake style of the Victorian home. “The addition was meant to stand out next to the existing structure but essentially become one,” the designer says.
This approach continues on the inside. Rich hues, patterned wallpaper and ornate furnishings were selected to suit the Victorian architecture while the pavilion is light and airy with black accents and contemporary fixtures including some of Workstead’s own lighting designs. In the pavilion, floor-to-ceiling windows at ground level create a connection to the rear deck and farmland beyond.
Planning was critical to the success of the project. “We approached the interiors carefully to ensure one wing was not favoured upon entry,” Robert explains. Formal spaces were reinstated in the existing house, and the original entry hall was restored. The ground floor of the new pavilion is centred around a hand-plastered core that integrates a striking fireplace on one side and the kitchen on the other.“These living, dining and kitchen areas flow into one another, allowing the owner to host guests with ease.”
The renovation means all parts of the house have already been put to good use, where the original home is more consistent with modern life and the pavilion while celebrating the unique style of the individual structures. “The structures complement each other in both design and functionality, making it natural to live seamlessly between both,” Robert says.
This piece originally appeared in est Magazine Issue #42.