Photography by Francis dzikowski photography inc.
The front porch was rebuilt with new classical columns, a new ceiling and new railings. The new and improved porch creates that wonderful gesture to the street that was such an important hallmark of early 20th century homes. What a great spot from which to survey the street.
Rather than tackle the house first, Brewer redid the landscaping so that it would have a chance to mature while the house was being redone. This is a nice way of getting house and landscape to come together and be complete at the same time.
The landscaping effort included building an outside room with furniture built of bluestone and plants—a nice way to maintain some privacy in a dense suburb like Yonkers.
The house has a large central entry foyer and a stair hall with a formal living room and a dining room on each side. Large openings connect these rooms to the hall, allowing light and space to move freely about.
Brewer added beams to the entry ceiling and started to have the original woodwork stripped of paint. After what seemed an eternity, he decided to keep the remainder of the woodwork, like the wainscot going up the stairs, painted.
As we tour the house, you’ll see that Brewer has a wonderful sense of color. “Color is a way to highlight architectural detail,” he says.
While the living room is essentially as it was, a room that spans from front to back and with beams in the ceiling, the big change is at the fireplace. Brewer reworked what was a large, dark brick Arts and Crafts design into something lighter and brighter. A new mantel and over-mantel piece are made of wood trim pieces painted white to contrast the walls.
The tile surround at the fireplace is new yet looks original to the home—what Brewer calls his “making it more of what it already was” approach.
Opposite the living room is the dining room. The ceiling beams, large picture window, and built-in cabinetry are all new. As is the light fixture, which looks like it could have been original to the house.
The picture window replaces a window higher up the wall designed to fit above a piano—a common feature of homes of this era. Not having a piano, Brewer decided to replace the old window with a new, larger one. “A trick to make a small house seem bigger is to use big windows that look out to the landscape,” he says.
Brewer updated the original dark oak kitchen cabinets from the 1970s by adding new doors, refinishing the boxes and adding trim and new hardware.
He also increased the size of the window above the sink; added the beadboard, beamed ceiling and island; and replaced the vinyl flooring with tile. His goal: to create a kitchen that felt as though it was from the 1940s.
A view of the breakfast area really shows Brewer’s sense of how to use color to accent architectural detail. Even the window sash is painted another color.
The center stair leads to a central hall on the second floor, with bedrooms and a bathroom off of this hall. The stair continues to a third-floor bedroom. This is the typical foursquare arrangement; the main circulation spine is in the center of the house, and rooms are arranged off this spine. All of which yields a really efficient plan.
Large French doors lead to a balcony that’s formed by the porch roof. These doors allow an abundance of natural light and fresh air into the room. And because each room has at least two outside walls, there’s plenty of cross ventilation to keep the upstairs comfortable.
On the second floor, Brewer removed a wall between two bedrooms to create one large master bedroom. He also created a window seat, or what he calls “a charming moment” between two closets. Mirrored panels at the sides of the window seat create the illusion that the seat is in a bay window. The mirrors also add a play of light to the room.
Another of the second-floor bedrooms is used as a study. Brewer, a flea-market devotee, has filled the home with a wonderfully eclectic collection of items purchased over many years. While Brewer says his home “isn’t really special, as it can be seen everywhere in the country,” it really is special because of the richness of detail and the care he and his wife have given it.