They Thought Remodeling Could Wait. Then a Tree Fell on the House.

Dee Yonker

When Dana and Jay Vasser bought a midcentury-fashionable dwelling in Pelham Manor, N.Y., in Westchester County, they figured they could renovate it — at some level.

Then the majestic pine tree that towered more than the property came crashing down on prime of it during a storm in the spring of 2018, and the Vassers uncovered themselves forced into a building undertaking they hadn’t prepared on.

“It was about a 100-foot-tall pine tree in our front garden, and the trunk just snapped about 15 feet up, and it fell right throughout the residence,” stated Mr. Vasser, 40, who functions in finance.

“That was the catalyst that produced us get started transferring much more immediately than we possibly wished to,” said Ms. Vasser, 41, who functions in human resources for a money corporation. “But in the conclude, it labored out properly.”

The tree didn’t crush the dwelling, but it did tear a hole in the roof that permitted drinking water within when it rained and destroyed a sunroom so terribly that it had to be boarded up.

When the Vassers bought the residence in 2013, for $920,000, they experienced presented the aged kitchen area a basic update, with white cabinets and white marble counters, but had still left most all the things else as is. “It was a really quick and painless brightening of the kitchen, since we both of those knew that at some issue we had been heading to do a bigger renovation,” Ms. Vasser mentioned.

By the time the tree toppled, they had two youngsters — Sophie, now 8, and Drew, 5 — and, faced with the prospect of major construction, they determined there was no superior time to make the family property they desired.

Built in 1961 by Harold and Judith Edelman, a husband-and-spouse team who launched an architecture company now regarded as ESKW/Architects, the reduced-slung rectangular box of a house experienced several aspects the Vassers appreciated, including a great deal of purely natural gentle, a roomy residing space and wooden ceilings supported by hefty uncovered beams. When the few began interviewing architects for the renovation, they had been astonished that many preferred to erase those unique aspects.

“A great deal of these architects would come in and want to blast by the walls, choose down the lovely redwood-beamed ceilings and matters like that,” Ms. Vasser mentioned. “But we said, ‘No, that is the beauty of it.’ Homes really don’t get created like this any longer.”

So they have been relieved when they started speaking with Scott Specht, the founding principal of Specht Architects, who recognized the home’s deserves and instructed a more nuanced technique.

“It was an exciting proposition, this house,” Mr. Specht reported, noting that it had now been modified and embellished in awkward means in excess of the a long time. “It experienced some good characteristics and options to it, but there were being also factors that had deteriorated beyond mend.”

And there ended up other experimental features, he said “like employing jalousie windows” — designed from glass louvers — “which are wonderful for a warm local weather but not so good in the Northeast.”

With the target of preserving the home’s original spirit though updating it for vitality efficiency and a more up to date way of residing, Mr. Specht obtained to get the job done. In session with the Vassers, he made the decision to keep the primary footprint, but to develop a lot more place by enclosing an out of doors patio earlier underneath the again deck to grow the walkout basement, bringing the measurement of the residence up to about 3,850 sq. ft. The beforehand unfinished basement now is made up of a guest suite, a research, a health club and a den with a golf simulator for Mr. Vasser, an avid golfer.

Upstairs, Mr. Specht remodeled the floor system. “One of our duties was to produce a genuine sense of procession into household,” he said.

The initial entrance doorway led straight into the residing home, and there was no awning outside the house to offer you protection from the temperature, so Mr. Specht moved the opening, tucking it deeper less than the roof to produce a recessed entry, and reoriented the rooms inside of to create a good lobby.

At the Vassers’ request, he moved, expanded and opened up the kitchen, which was formerly in a separate place. Now it accommodates a substantial central island and flows into the dwelling-and-dining place. He also replaced the outdated, harmed sunroom with a home business office.

Together with new home windows and doorways, Mr. Specht included insulation in the walls and higher than the ceiling (exactly where there was beforehand none) to enhance vitality effectiveness. He also re-clad the full home in a combine of stucco and ipe siding.

For the new facade, he built a wall somewhat larger and more time than the relaxation of the household. It features “like a proscenium,” he explained, obscuring the vents and pipes on the flat roof and creating the household look extended from the street.

Nearly particularly a calendar year right after building began in November 2018, the Vassers moved again into their overhauled modernist household when the finishing touches were being continue to staying completed. The challenge was last but not least completed in January 2020, at a price tag of about $300 a sq. foot.

When the pandemic struck a handful of months later on and the family was stuck operating and studying remotely in their new household, “we felt pretty fortuitous to have this,” Mr. Vasser mentioned. “It was like, ‘What a excellent place to shell out all our time.’”

The task, born of a setback, has rewarded the loved ones with a dwelling they adore.

“The common areas in this residence are just so inviting now,” Ms. Vasser reported. “We constantly want to be hanging out here with each other.”

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