After I featured the modest Foursquare that Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty grew up in, I heard from a reader who told me about his. Gary Brewer is an architect in New York who saw the potential in this house back when it was “a wreck,” from its rotting porch to wall-to-wall shag carpeting.
Gary’s a partner with Robert A. M. Stern Architects in Manhattan, and he could have built a new house but chose to restore this circa-1910 Foursquare in the Park Hill neighborhood of Yonkers instead.
Foursquares come in different styles, and he says his is an “architectural mutt,” describing it as a bit Arts & Crafts, but with a Mediterranean-style clay tile roof. His goal when he bought the house in the late ’90s was “to make it more period appropriate, more of what it was.”
This is no museum-quality historic renovation, though. I think his biggest accomplishment here was that he turned an outdated “wreck” of a house into a warm and comfortable place to call home.
The living room beams were already there, but he added similar ones to the dining room and entry. The original quarter oak floors were refinished throughout.
The dining room was given a new picture window, a built-in buffet, and vintage-looking light fixtures.
The house has about 2,300 square feet. He says, “I wanted to show people you can renovate a modest-sized house without its being wildly costly. When people build new houses, they think they need more space than they usually do. Sadly, they are often willing to trade quality and detail for size.”
The house is set on a hill surrounded by trees, and he says the master bedroom is like “sleeping in a treehouse.”
He considers color a great way to highlight the architectural details in a house.
The kitchen, he says, “was a disaster” when he bought the house and required the most work. It hadn’t been updated since the 1970s.
He wanted it to look like an original 1906 kitchen that had been updated in the 1930s or ’40s. He didn’t want to rip everything out because the kitchen had “a spirit” that he wanted to keep, and he wanted to give it “the architectural equivalent of comfort food.”
He worked with the existing cabinets by leaving the “boxes” and replacing the doors. It definitely has a warm vintage vibe.
He designed new columns to replace the rotted ones on the front porch and gave it a new painted floor:
BTW, I recently featured a house designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects called Sea Point in Massachusetts:
It was on the cover of a book Gary Brewer co-wrote about the (gorgeous) houses they’ve designed over the past decade:
For more photos and information about his Foursquare, visit Old House Online, This Old House, Houzz, and New Old House magazine. (Photo credits: Francis Dzikowski, Jeff Hirsch, and Tria Giovan. Photo styling: Brice Gaillard.)
Thanks to Gary for telling us about his beautiful home! I couldn’t stop smiling while I looked through the photos of it. There’s a great interview with him over at New York Social Diary with his thoughts on architecture and why he prefers traditional design over “daring” contemporary buildings with white walls that I enjoyed reading, too!