For a growing number of Westchester residents, one house per property simply isn’t enough.
By Laura Joseph Mogil
What do you do when you’ve finished building or remodeling your home? Start on a second home, of course.
Consider it the “next step” in luxury home ownership. These days, the trend is to build “accessory houses,” smaller structures on the property dedicated to a specific purpose, whether that’s throwing pottery, housing out-of-town guests, or entertaining friends.
It’s actually a modern-day take on the old carriage house. Many owners of older homes are remodeling their aging outbuildings—including those carriage houses of yore—adding upscale amenities, from Tuscan-oven fireplaces to deluxe outdoor showers. Other homeowners are building new accessory structures from scratch, incorporating architectural details and design elements that make them look as if they’ve been sitting there since the main residence was erected.
Some communities have zoning regulations that allow residents to make their structures suitable for overnight stays, complete with bedrooms, full baths, kitchen facilities, and heating. In such cases, it’s necessary to get a permit for an accessory apartment, otherwise known as a “mother-in-law house.” These dwellings usually cannot be leased, but can be occupied by a relative or guests (as opposed to a person who pays rent).
At the moment, pool houses are the accessory structure of choice. Teo SigÃ¼enza, a partner at Chary & SigÃ¼enza Architects in Bedford, says he works on four or more at any given time. “Pool houses are especially popular in northern Westchester because there are larger properties,” he says, “and people want a pool that’s removed from the main residence.” After all, if the pool’s not adjacent to the house, then a place to change, grab a snack, and take refuge from the sun isn’t, for some at least, an extravagance at all, but a necessity.
Stone Pool House, Bedford
Designed by Chary & SigÃ¼enza Architects, Bedford
Architect Teo SigÃ¼enza began this pool-house project in Bedford by drawing a series of sketches, each design complementing his client’s 1920s Tudor house.
“The point was to respect the architecture of the main house without mimicking it,” SigÃ¼enza says. After creating a three-dimensional model of the project, the architect got the go-ahead to build the 800-square-foot structure, which today features rustic fieldstone walls, a graduated slate roof with tiles salvaged from the main residence (it had recently been renovated), and a cantilevered wooden pergola. The attached open-air pavilion is the go-to spot for dining alfresco or taking a break from the cool waters of the free-form pool.
An original steel door from the 1920s leads guests inside the pool house, where the same kind of fieldstone used for the pool terrace was also used on the walls, seamlessly melding the interior with the exterior. Inside the house, a changing room isn’t merely functional but also decorative, featuring distinctive design elements such as oak millwork and a vaulted ceiling. The pool’s mechanical equipment, located in the basement, is strategically hidden from view by the pool house’s beautiful stone walls.
It’s from the back, however, that guests can see one of the building’s finest features—an outdoor fieldstone shower. SigÃ¼enza’s plan called for it to be completely open on top to create what he calls “a grotto feel.” According to the architect, “I wanted my client to be able to enjoy the sky and surrounding landscape of towering trees while showering.”
Guest House With a
Craftsman-Style Carriage House, Bedford
Designed by Ralph R. Mackin, Jr., Architects, North Salem
When clients Tom and Lisa Cohn called on architect Ralph Mackin to build a carriage house near the pool that sits on their four-acre Bedford property, they wanted their stand-alone addition to reflect their passion for Craftsman style, famous for its emphasis on simplicity, craftsmanship, sparse ornamentation, and the use of high-end materials. “This artistic movement’s focus is on quality materials and a wealth of understated details,” Mackin says. “The whole point here was to show off the work of the artisans—carpenters, metal workers, and masons—that the contractor [Bill Hoadley of H & Y Construction in Brookfield, Connecticut] hired to create the design.”
To link the independent structure to the main residence, Mackin added stepping stones and a cantilevered, redwood pergola with Mission-style lanterns. Inside the structure, which stands behind three garage bays (one of which serves as a potting shed), is a 400-square-foot great room that doubles as a pool cabana.
The Craftsman style also is famous for its simple, solid-wood furniture with straight lines, and the Cohns do the style justice with their furniture selections. They’ve collected quite an assortment, including a Stickley-inspired chair, a Craftsman-style oak rocker, and a period-style floor lamp with inlaid amber glass.
Yet despite its handsome interior, the carriage house is designed to invite guests outside. French doors at either side of a brick herringbone fireplace framed by bronze tiles open to a fieldstone patio with a huge Tusan-oven fireplace. There, spectacular views of the free-form gunite pool and adjacent Howland Lake create an outdoor scene as appealing as the one indoors.
Artist’s Studio, Pound Ridge
Designed by R.S. Granoff Architects, Greenwich, Connecticut
After retiring as president and CEO of Salomon Brothers International 12 years ago, Miles Slater switched from working with huge amounts of money to working with huge slabs of marble, steel, and bronze. The investment banker turned sculptor. As a result, he needed a dedicated place to work on his art. Slater hired architect Richard Granoff to design a sculpture studio on the grounds of his home, located on a sprawling 6.8-acre property in Pound Ridge. (Slater has since moved.)
Granoff, who heads a 24-person Greenwich-based firm, took on the project as a small labor of love for Slater, a close family friend, who has succeeded in his second career, too. He has garnered a reputation as a distinguished sculptor (one of his sculptures, titled Rescue, is on permanent display at the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum). Keeping it in the family, Granoff collaborated with Slater’s son, Doug, owner of the full-service construction company D.A.S. Associates in Bedford, to build the 1,000-square-foot accessory structure.
For design inspiration, the architect turned to the property’s main house, a stone barn built in the early 1800s and renovated by the eminent silent filmmaker D.W. Griffith in 1935. Granoff employed many of the same architectural designs, from the gabled roofline down to the mullions surrounding the windows, and used similar materials, including white clapboard siding, gray slate roofing tiles, and local fieldstone tiles. The end result is a modern steel structure clad in traditional materials in perfect harmony with the main residence.
Granoff designed the structure keeping in mind both aesthetic and functional needs. The glass garage door, along with the clerestory windows that stretch around the top of the studio’s four walls, allow for an extraordinary amount of natural light to enter the space. Holophane light fixtures, which hang high off the ceiling, were installed and give the interior a slight industrial, contemporary look—a modern style for a serious artist’s new venture.