Points of View

An award-winning home in Eastchester’s Lake Isle community offers space (10,100 square feet)…and panoramic water views

Points of  View

 

By Dana Asher

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Photographs by Olson Photographic, LLC

 

 

(Above) Located a few feet from the water, this home won the 2006 Home Builders Association of Connecticut Award for Best Custom Home Over 10,000 Square Feet. The back of the house opens onto the pool terrace, lawn, and lake. Arcades and porches shield the windows’s glass from the sun, and stainless-steel railings lend the house a modern touch.

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An award-winning home on Eastchester’s Lake Isle offers its owners both space and drama without dwarfing its smaller neighbors, thanks to an architect’s cleverness.

 

      (Left) The home’s backyard is geared toward entertaining, with a pool and spa that overlook the lake. 
   
(Right) The stairwell has as much design as any other part of the home. Light cages on columns are made of steel and accented with green glass marbles. Dramatic railings are made of thin, graceful steel.      
     

When your current home is just steps away from your future one, 20 months can seem like 20 years. But, as one Eastchester family learned in building their dream house across the street from the one they had lived in for 14 years, some things are definitely worth waiting for. Overlooking picturesque Lake Isle, their award-winning home is like a present begging to be unwrapped, a lovely gift box that gives only a hint of the incredible contents that lay inside.

 

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  (Left) Sawn wood beams accent the ceiling in the kitchen. All kitchen cabinetry was custom-made, and much of it is adorned with glass marbles. A Sub-Zero refrigerator is hidden behind artfully designed cabinetry; there’s also a Sub-Zero wine cooler and a Wolf range with six burners and a grill. Honed granite tops the kitchen’s two islands.
 
(Right) The family room features a vaulted ceiling with steel and glass beams. Used as a coffee table, a Bristow slab bench from Ralph Pucci is surrounded by a Ralph Lauren sofa and lounge chairs (the latter is covered with Beacon Hill/Robert Allen fabric).  
 

Portugal natives John, a commercial builder, and his wife Maria (for privacy reasons, the couple did not want their last name used), were content with their home when a prime piece of real estate, right on the water, came on the market. They immediately called architect Roger Bartels, who had designed a master-bedroom suite addition on their previous home, to get his take on it. “John asked, ‘Should I buy it?’ ” recalls Bartels, of the South Norwalk, Connecticut, firm Bartels-Pagliaro Architects. “ ‘Damn right you should!’  I told him.” Within three months, the couple had signed the deed and, not long after, razed the shingle-sided split that then sat on the property.

 

   (Left) Bartels-Pagliaro Architects designed the bench at the foot of the custom canopy bed to house a television that rises via remote control for viewing. Usual ceiling beams-done in steel and adorned with green glass marbles used as ornamentation throughout the house-can also be found in the family room. The custom-made wool and silk rug is from Odegard in New York City and the chaise lounge is from Ralph Lauren and covered in Todd Hase fabric.
   
(Right) In the master bedroom’s semi-circular sitting area, two chairs by Brunschwig & Fils upholstered in Kravet fabric bask in the sunshine. The simple drapery, created to give privacy without blocking the view, uses Osborne & Little fabric.  
   

But their neighbors, it turned out, weren’t as enthusiastic about their plans for the property. At an Eastchester Architectural Review Board hearing, neighbors vehemently protested the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home the couple planned, saying it was too big for the neighborhood, delaying the project for a year. Fortunately, Bartels had a way to build the home without dwarfing the brick-faced ranches that would surround it. 

 

  (Left) In the master bathroom, a shower sheated in gray marble mosaic tile has a streamlined look. Glass blocks on the shower wall along the hallway allow for extra light. “My husband went in the shower and I stood in the hall to make sure we had enough privacy”, says Maria. The shower system is from Waterworks. 
   
(Right) The hallway lines the side of the house that faces the street. The wool and silk custom rug is from Odegard.  
   

 

While the pitched acre-and-a-half lot, which sloped toward the lake, presented challenges, it also provided a solution for helping keep the home’s appearance in scale with the neighborhood. Bartels would site the front of the house several feet below street level to make it appear smaller from the road. It worked. The bulk of the 10,100-square-foot structure sits behind the hilly front yard—which not only makes the house look smaller to passersby but also ended up giving all rooms sun and views.

 

  (Left) Topped by a green glass orb, the elegant steel spiral staircase leads from the wine cellar to the mudroom and then upstairs to the master bedroom.
   
(Right) The homeowners’ daughter wanted something special for her room and its distinctive round shape and domed ceiling fulfill that wish. Two persimmon-colored chairs by Jim Thompson provide a place to sit and chat; a sculptural lounge chair from Nancy Corzine, covered with fuschia fabric from Osborne & Little, serves as a functional piece of art.  
   

 

“The steel that’s buried beneath this house is quite amazing,” says Jon Brindisi, vice president of Brindisi & Yaroscak Custom Builders Inc., which won the 2006 Home Builders Association of Connecticut (HOBI) Award for Best Custom Home Over 10,000 Square Feet (the Oscar of the industry) for this project. “We wanted to create a spectacular home that would fit in with the neighborhood,” Bartels says.

 

The home’s interior design and architectural features are distinctive and certainly striking. Unique design details transform functional forms such as staircases and fixtures into house jewelry. The metalwork by Stamford, Connecticut’s Creative Metal Fabricating, is used as a unifying element throughout. The metalwork shows up in artistic steel railings, distressed stainless-steel hearths and fireplace surrounds, a bar top, and even furniture. Green marbles are everywhere, atop staircase posts and custom cabinetry and doors. At night, the home literally glows, with the exterior light cages emitting a greenish light that echoes the lighting indoors.

 

Bartels isn’t a fan of today’s popular super-sized rooms with cathedral ceilings. His open layout is broken up with smaller spaces by design—something the homeowners applaud. “For such a large house,” says Maria, “the small spaces help make it quite cozy.”

 

  (Left) In the living room, one first focuses on the lake view, then the fireplace, set against a brick wall and flanked by benches designed by Maxine Snider. The sofa is from Holly Hunt, the chairs Nancy Corzine. The coffee table was custom designed by the architect. A doorway, which leads to a television room, is decorated with a green glass orb.
   
(Right) The wine cellar, which had been on the homeowners’ wish-list for a long time, features elegant steel doors.  
   

 

About 95 percent of Bartels’s practice involves projects with water views, and this is a spectacular example of one of those projects. “Property in this part of the country is expensive, waterfront property all the more so,” he says. “Homeowners want to exploit the view.”

artels’s design indeed exploits the view with “French planning,” a style of architecture in which the house is long and one-room deep, with hallways on the home’s street side (this technique is popular in France, particularly in Norman manor houses). The house structure was pushed as far toward the lake as possible, scoring extra points in terms of the water advantage.

 

“An architect like Bartels just works at a different level,” says Brindisi, whose firm has worked with him on 15 projects. “These houses are exciting to build. In every room, there’s something to look forward to, something that you won’t find in any other house.” But there were challenges with such an ambitious, large-scale project. For starters: the depth of the dig was far more than expected, as 20-plus feet of dirt was excavated to lay the foundation.

 

 

(Above) The front of the 10,100-square-foot home is set several feet below street level to make it appear smaller. The brick façade and slate roof were requested by the homeowners.

 

And there was simply no tolerance for approximation. “If something is off by one-sixteenth of an inch, it can throw everything off,” Brindisi explains. “A lot of the interior details have to be coordinated right from the beginning to achieve an integrated look throughout the home.” The initial set of drawings, he says, ran between 40 and 60 pages.

 

Carte blanche goes a long way with Bartels, who not only served as a traditional architect, but also had a heavy hand in interior design and even created some of the home’s most special furniture pieces, such as the dressing table in the master bathroom and bench in the entry hall. Bartels’s son, Jacques Bartels, who is a professional artist, and his wife Elizabeth Bartels, who shows professionally on a part-time basis, painted some of the dramatic, brightly colored artwork on the wall. “When the interior designer couldn’t find something she thought was just right, she asked us to design it,” Bartels says. “I took Maria and John to see other houses we had designed, and they let me know what they liked and what they didn’t. Then they gave me carte blanche.”

 

Bartels’s colleague and former client, interior designer Meredith Carter, principal of mc + mc design in New York City, became part of the design team. Her goal: to incorporate the setting in all aspects of the design. “It affected how we designed the rooms to maximize the view and how mirrors were placed so that the outside is reflected in,” she says. “I didn’t want to obscure the view with drapery or furniture.”

 

Bartels-Pagliaro Architects partner Chris Pagliaro likens the architects on this project to movie directors: they oversee the process, but also assemble a team of professionals, including the builder, the landscape architect, the interior designer, and Nicholas A. Sajda, the firm’s partner who managed the project through construction, to create the best production possible. “Of course, the homeowner is the producer,” he says. “You go through rewrites, and you build a team of professionals, and you want to make sure that everyone and everything works together to enhance the story plot. Ultimately, that’s what happened in this home.”

 

 

 

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