Suburban Intervention: At the Corner of Necessity and Originality

BY THE NUMBERS: Original home built in the 1950s. Current remodel finished in 2015. Original ground footprint: 1,665 New ground footprint, with detached garage: 2,365 Original square footage: 4,000 sq. ft. – 3,300 living space; 700 garage New square footage: 4,900 sq. ft. – 4,200 living space; 700 garage Materials/Original: A hodgepodge of stone, brick, different woods and floorings. New/Outside covering: cement, cedar, glass Stair sculpture: cedar Flooring: oak Structural beam: composite


When Jeff Jordan renovated a 1950s home in Pelham, New York, to meet the needs of a modern family, the task was both daunting and consistent with the original architects: create areas that offer both privacy and shared spaces.

“The thrust of the project required reworking the existing house while adding space for the family – especially on the second-floor bedrooms,” Jordan recalls. But contractors saw the challenges within the structure, a new approach was applied.

“The superstructure was so bizarrely configured with wiring and plumbing, we had to take it down to the foundation and start from scratch,” explains Jordan.

The existing two-car garage became part of the home’s first-floor living area (a detached garage was added to the property), creating one large open area Jordan designed focusing on dining, entertaining and conversation.

“There’s a more open, flexible living configuration for today’s families,” he noted. “There’s a certain informality to it. People like the process of cooking and to entertain around the kitchen. And large kitchens open to dining or an entertaining situation rather than a formal living or dining space.”

The second-floor bedrooms were also rearranged, moving the master suite to one side of the house. The three kids’ rooms are each a nice size, with large closet and desk area, but all the doors open to a flexible loft space. “It’s somewhat private to guests, but it encourages the kids to be in a space together,” adds Jordan.

And unifying the entire structure is a bright, decorative cedar-planked, slatted stairwell that extends from a basement playroom, through the main living area and into the second floor.

“We use the wood screen to provide separation and yet it allows for light and sound,” Jordan continues, especially useful for the basement playroom when kids are younger. “Privacy and connection may seem conflicting, but this provides both.”

It’s also a stable element as homes evolve based on family needs; children need watchful eyes, teens need privacy and parents at some point will find themselves with an empty nest.

The windows throughout are situated for each room’s use – higher in the front, so the living area is private, but open toward the back bringing in natural elements, a trait Jordan embraced from years working in California.

The exterior also complements the neighborhood. There’s enough cedar siding to blend in, but not so much it requires overwhelming maintenance demands. The second-floor concrete has a lap siding look, complementing the area’s wooden houses.

“It’s about respecting the neighborhood without being a mirror,” claims Jordan. “It fits in without wearing the same suit everyone else is wearing.”

Photography Courtesy of Gross & Daley Photography.

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