When homes are in need of more than a face-lift, architects sometimes get called in to create ground-up renovations. Here, four Long Island homes find new life.
Correction: The before-and-after photos that accompanied a story about the redesign of an Oyster Bay home by Locust Valley architect Jon M. Babinski were incorrect in a previous version of this story.
Architects: Hoffman Grayson Architects, Huntington
Estimated cost of renovation: $900,000
Reason for renovation: Gary Bixhorn, 62, a retired school administrator, and Fran Reid, 59, a retired chief sustainability officer, say they knew that the home Bixhorn had lived in for 19 years was in the perfect location. But it wasn’t big enough to accommodate their newly merged families. It also needed updating. “We had just recently married, and the spot this house was in was so incredible,” says Reid. “The house overlooks Northport Harbor, but it was an old 1950s house.” They wanted to see the water and add closets.
Biggest change: When architect Neal Hoffman saw the space, he said, he knew right away what needed to be done. “I sat in the kitchen and said, ‘We should open the house up to take advantage of the view,’ ” he says. He took down as many walls as he could on the ground floor, and put a dining room where the kitchen had stood. The owners wanted more space. “So we added a third level, with its own views, bathroom, closets and balcony,” says Hoffman.
Biggest challenge: One was adhering to local zoning laws. “We wanted to expand a small room in the northeast into a sunset viewing space, so we had to go to the zoning board and get that approved,” says Hoffman, explaining that the project would bring the house closer to neighboring property lines.
Favorite part of renovation: “My favorite part is the loft-like main level,” says Reid. Bixhorn is partial to the outdoor areas. “I like the patio. . . . You can watch the harbor, and if you can tolerate the cold, you can be out there 11 months of the year,” he says.
Water Mill before
Architect: James J. Stout Architect & Associates, Commack
Estimated cost of renovation: $650,000
Reason for renovation: David Marom, 59, a real estate developer, and Annette Marom, 55, who works in wardrobe at CBS, say they wanted to update the house. They asked Jim Stout to turn the space into something that would work well for them and their extended family. “They bought the house with the intent of fixing it up and really blowing it out,” says Stout, adding that the property had an existing tennis court and a pool.
Water Mill after
Biggest change: “The homeowners wanted to change the 1950s ranch style, with its low ceilings,” says architect Jim Stout. “It was dark and overgrown, and the whole color scheme, interior and exterior, was very heavy.”
Biggest challenge: For Stout, one of the more pressing tests of his ability was designing a modern home that would be livable. “It’s the first house I’ve done in this style,” says Stout. “This was new to me. It was a new vocabulary, with large overhangs and cantilevers and exposed steel.” To make sure the look worked with the physics of construction, Stout consulted engineers.
Favorite part of the renovation: Stout says he thinks the best parts of the design are the newfound light and space. “The interior hallway space, which runs from one end of the house to the other, is two stories high, and it’s lit with natural light from one end to the other,” says Stout. Extra bedrooms accommodate the Maroms’ extended family, but provide privacy. The couple like their home’s new green features. “We incorporated solar panels into the roof,” says Stout.
Oyster Bay before
Architect: Jon M. Babinski, Locust Valley
Estimated cost of renovation: $900,000
Reason for renovation: After years of living in this home, the homeowners were ready to make a change. “The layout of the existing house was dysfunctional,” says architect Jon M. Babinski. He says the homeowners asked him to create an open floor plan that incorporated better views of Oyster Bay Harbor.
Oyster Bay after
Biggest change: In the original house, a chopped-up floor plan made for an awkward flow. “It was an older house, with small rooms, and you had to walk through some rooms to get to other rooms,” says architect Jon M. Babinski. a
Biggest challenge: While Babinski and the homeowners were in the midst of the renovation plans, superstorm Sandy hit. The home suffered substantial water damage. “We chose to re-evaluate the design of the home and decided that it would be best to raise the house 6 to 8 feet from its original elevation,” he says. Babinski contracted with Ria Ciardullo Landscapes in Locust Valley to construct a series of retaining walls, which created tiers that seamlessly blended the surrounding landscape with the main entrance.
Favorite part of the renovation: An unexpected benefit to raising the house is that the waterfront views got better while also giving the homeowners peace of mind.
Upper Brookville before
Architects: Smiros & Smiros Architects, Glen Cove
Estimated cost of renovation: More than $1 million
Reason for renovation: The main reason for the change was space. “The clients wanted a larger home,” says Jim Smiros, partner at Smiros & Smiros Architects. “They’d raised their children in this home, and they wanted a larger place.” Smiros says while the family loved the location, more space would allow for them to continue enjoying the property for years to come.
Upper Brookville after
Biggest change: Architect Jim Smiros added an entire second floor to the existing structure, which included an expanded master suite with its own sitting room and fireplace. In addition, the roof was steeply pitched, creating a charming English Arts and Crafts-style look. The renovation also included an expanded kitchen and a new breakfast room.
Biggest challenge: For Smiros, the biggest challenge was improving the structure without starting from scratch. “You’re working with an existing ranch,” he says. “So you’re trying to improve it without tearing it down. But if you can temper your expectations and control the design, you can create something beautiful.”
Favorite part of renovation: “The owners love the exterior facade,” says Smiros. “It’s simple and understated, and in a world of busy homes it stands out with its quiet message.”