Design Solutions: Reclaimed Glory

Westchester Real Homes marries architectural design with building science to restore a farmhouse more than 200 years old.

authors Kyle Clapham | February 18, 2020

Sylvain Côté drove by an old house in his neighborhood for 15 years but did not notice the home because of its overgrown vegetation. Built in 1812, the modest 1,752-square-foot timber-framed farmhouse had been empty for a number of years, so his real estate associate bought the home with the intention of restoring the residence to its past glory and then selling it to a prospective buyer.

“I was a little too dedicated,” says Côté, an architectural designer who steers Westchester Real Homes in South Salem, New York. “Because me and my workers just don’t know how to put lipstick on a pig. You want to really do it completely from top to bottom.”

The labor-intensive project stretched the budget as they sought to create both a smart home and a living testament to old house-building techniques. The final product showcases vintage framing methods, as well as state-of-the-art mechanical systems, and much of the existing wood from the demolition was reclaimed and repurposed throughout the house to bring it back to its beginnings.

Appear Larger

The remodeled home utilizes an open floor plan with a deconstructed kitchen, a dining and living area as well as a third master suite or professional office. Its antique post-and-beam structure has been revealed and permanently exposed along with the antique hand-hewn timber and extra-wide American chestnut and white oak flooring, which measures as wide as 16 to 18 inches, Côté notes.

“It turned out that restoring the floors was actually a lot more intensive than that then just paying for new floors,” he says.

A redesigned artisan stone fireplace provides warmth as well as the central focal design element for the residence. The first level also includes a full bar, a laundry room or mudroom, and two bathrooms. Shiplap with a crackle paint finish over the reclaimed cedar siding provides the wall finish throughout the main floor, and live-edge hemlock baseboards (as well as the bar countertops) came from the old roof.

“The [existing] wood was definitely too dark,” Côté says. “Even if I wanted to keep it natural, it was too dark. By doing the stain, it would also make [the house] appear larger.”

The custom-designed kitchen features reclaimed weathered Brazilian mahogany farmhouse-style cabinetry and a solid, sandstone 2-inch-thick countertop (the standard thickness is 1¼ inches). A handcrafted French range works in conjunction with the 500 cfm ultra-quiet, silencer-equipped hood with automatic makeup air system. Floating shelves are also Brazilian mahogany.

A versatile, rare-find butcher-block-top dining peninsula already sat on casters for more convenience. The full wet bar was also built with reclaimed weathered Brazilian mahogany and includes a gourmet ice machine, an under-counter refrigerator and a dishwasher. The shallow-back cabinetry uses double doors and open floating shelves and was ultimately coated with epoxy as well as a matte varnish.

Luxury Amenities

The refurbished double French vintage sliding barn doors open to a multipurpose room with vaulted ceilings and a 48-inch brushed steel ceiling fan. A half-bath features a rare-find furniture-turned-vanity with a basin and wall-mount faucet and is accessible via a custom sliding barn door that is adjacent to the bar. The full bath incorporates oversized porcelain floor tiles and an oversize-tile shower with rain showerhead—plus an antique dresser-turned-vanity with a basin and wall-mount faucet.

New French doors invite southern views of the completely private 3 acres, and a deck leads to a spacious stone patio and an outdoor fireplace. A new foyer opens up to the second floor, and the restored stairway includes an architecturally correct, mahogany railing. The basement level features the original, exposed large boulders in the foundation and a 1,000 bottle-capacity wine cellar.

A crackle paint finish shiplap over reclaimed cedar serves as the wall finish throughout the upper level as well. The dual master suites represent one of the hottest new amenities for luxury homes, Côté notes. One master suite includes a walk-through closet and a sitting area accessible through a custom sliding barn door, while the other has white oak flooring and an exposed brick chimney.

Both master suites feature new hand-hewn, timber-beam 10-foot ceilings (previously 7 feet), a 48-inch brushed steel fan and five windows with views in two different directions. The master bath incorporates oversized porcelain floor tiles, a rare-find antique table-turned-vanity with a basin and wall-mount faucet, a free-standing tub, and a custom oversize-tile shower with a rain showerhead and a built-in bench. The shower is equipped with a remote-mount bath fan system, and the area utilizes pocket doors as well as five windows, which is uncommon for bathrooms, Côté adds.

Smart Approach

The roof showcases synthetic cedar hand-split shakes as well as custom-designed-and-built roof wood brackets. A new, larger solid stone chimney with architectural detail, as well as wood lap siding, complete the exterior makeover along with the restored and insulated-glass front door entrance and sidelights. New all-in-one structural panels with built-in exterior insulation give integrated moisture, air and thermal protection, plus they work in conjunction with the high-density spray foam insulation.

An enclosed and temperate bonus storage area in the attic (instead of being outside and subject to extreme temperature shifts) can be accessed via pull-down stairs. A 2½-ton high-velocity heating and cooling air-handler services the upper floor through ceiling outlets, and the home makes use of an independent ERV energy recovery ventilator (also known as an air exchanger), Côté adds.

A high-efficiency, all-in-one gas boiler wall-hung unit with direct venting services both space heat and domestic hot water. A 2½-ton high-velocity heating and cooling air-handler serves the main floor through floor outlets. The whole-house central vacuum system includes the garage, and a 11-kW whole-house standby automatic power backup generator can be enabled by Wi-Fi.

From a smartphone, the homeowner can control the two programmable thermostats, four smart dimmers that are compatible with Amazon Alexa or an app, a set of smart speakers with built-in Alexa voice control, a 55-inch smart TV, a Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell that works with Alexa, and a smart home hub and app that can be easily expanded to include hundreds of available devices. QR

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