ARTICLE - Sept/Oct 2005
This North Shore house received LIBI, Archi and
by Denis Sheahan
the North Shore of Long Island, the homeowners had found their
dream house. It was in a secluded area, but the existing farm
ranch was dated and unwelcome.
Then came the call for a makeover. Little did anyone involved
realize at the time that the makeover would win three separate
A LIBI Award from the LI Builders.
An Archi Award from the LI Architects chapter.
A Landscape Award from the LI Nurserymen and Landscape Association.
The unusual thing about these awards was each category was
entered independently and separately. It became known when
the editors of HOUSE magazine reviewed the three issues that
were devoted to the awards from LIBI, the Archis and the LINLAs.
In effect, these awards are the “Oscars” of their
It is unheard of these days for so many different awards to
be bestowed on a single house.
In the case of the architect, it was Steven Keller, who was
the inspiration for the redesign of the roof in what he calls
a melody of shapes and assembled geometrics. He received the
special Archi window award sponsored by Super Enterprises.
Scale was orchestrated to impose a grander appearance to a
more intimate structure. The floor plan was revitalized by
weaving the new construction into the existing fabric of the
“The real story of this project lies within the amazing
transformation of this house from its humble, non-descript
beginnings, into the charming home that appears today,”
says Keller. “To that end, I credit the homeowners with
the confidence and commitment to the architectural process.
A clear concept was established, where the new construction
was woven into the existing house and we redesigned the roof
line to achieve the dramatic change.”
Keller added, “The owners continued their commitment
to this project with the hiring of a reputable builder and
landscaper. The design was executed with quality and care.
The validation of this success has been the recognition received
from each one’s peer group, which has resulted in a
number of awards.”
The foregoing resulted in a plan that met the programmatic
requirements of the clients’ needs for contemporary
living with the time honored warmth of hearth and home.
Increasing their quality of life was the owners’ main
objective for the renovation of their home. The design called
for an additional 1,000 square feet to accommodate a new foyer,
kitchen and master suite, bringing the total square footage
of the home to 5,500 square feet.
The builder, Christian Schlesinger, worked with a budget close
to $1 million and he received a Diamond LIBI Award.
“The homeowners deserve the credit for putting together
the team of builder, architect and landscape design firms
– three of the top companies in their individual industries
here on Long Island,” Schlesinger said. “The fact
that this one project was awarded three top honors from three
different industry associations is a true testament to the
level of excellence in which these companies work. I’m
grateful to have been a part of it and look forward to working
as part of this team on another successful project.”
Upon entering the front door, one is welcomed by a two and
a half story foyer complete with marble floors and custom
mouldings. Custom cabinetry and mouldings run throughout the
entire house, as well as quarter-sawn white oak wide plank
floors with radiant heat. The plumbing, heating, air conditioning
and electrical systems were all upgraded beyond the current
residential standards. All of these features added to the
warm feeling of this unique house.
The soaring tower and stone chimneys were dramatic contrasts
against the wood shingle roof and siding. The stone veneer,
copper work and loggia represent the finest materials and
craftsmanship that went into this project.
Schlesinger’s career with home building began in the
late 1980s following college. He began as a carpenter in Colorado
followed by a stint in construction management.
At the moment, Schlesinger is working on three or four projects,
including sites in Smithtown, Upper Brookville and Mill Neck.
Working in the luxury market, Schlesinger sees the market
“It’s a challenge,” he says, “because
when I started in the luxury market, there weren’t that
many builders. Now it seems there are lots more players competing.”
His company is structured in construction management of custom
residential work doing about 50 percent in construction and
50 percent in whole house remodeling.
Schlesinger says his company strives to provide excellence
in service, quality and education for homeowners in the luxury
market. He believes he accomplishes this by implementing systems
for communication, attention to detail and an “open
Paul’s Nursery created this charming front landscape
to this newly renovated home and in the process received the
Long Island Nurserymen and Landscape Gold Award.
Developing a functional driveway layout that would accommodate
the client’s needs while meeting the village requirements
was their foremost challenge. Preserving the large existing
trees and existing driveway entrance location were requirements
set forth by the village. Therefore, a sweeping driveway with
an oval courtyard and two guest parking areas were developed.
Cobblestone borders, as well as an oil and bluestone surface
delineated the driveway and courtyard areas from the play
area while softening the vast expanse and coordinating with
the stone veneer on the home.
“The essential tool in developing an exquisite project
like this one is working with an architect, landscape designer
and craftsmen who have the ability to create design solutions
which meet the homeowners expectations. This is how great
results are achieved and this project clearly shows that,”
said Paula Aureliano-Leighton.
“It is so important to relate the architecture of a
home with the landscaping. Often times this theory is missed.
As you can see, this landscaping embraces the architecture
and creates the functional spaces needed to complete this
front yard,” Paula added.
The walkway was designed away from the residence, with a center
landing that invites guests to stop and view the front of
the home. The use of the warm brick created a great contrast
to the blues and grays of the other stones in the property.
An elegant Holly hedge with Pachysandra and a pair of specimen
Japanese Maples created a simple, inviting entrance from the
roadway. The oval courtyard was planted with Laurels, Hollies.
Burning Bush and Hydrangea to camouflage the asphalt play
area behind the courtyard as well as provide a beautiful four-season
backdrop for the sculpture.
Entering the walkway from the driveway, Wisteria trees create
an orchard-like setting. Azaleas, Daylilies, Hydrangea and
Vinca fill the entryway with color and texture. Naturalistic
plantings of Dogwoods, Viburnum and Hosta complete the transformation
of the entrance to this stunning home.
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