HOUSE ARTICLE - Sept/Oct 2005

This North Shore house received LIBI, Archi and LINLA awards.

Story by Denis Sheahan
On 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 awards:

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 associations.

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 original house.

“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 expanding.
“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 book” relationship.

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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