A Hudson Valley Home's Renovation Is Guided by its Best Midcentury Feature

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
High on the east bank of New York's Hudson River, a special midcentury home receives a stunning renovation inspired by the strength of its initial design.

Originally designed by Roberta Thrun, one of the first women to graduate with a degree in architecture from Columbia University (and also the client's grandmother), this well-designed midcentury home built in 1962 always held a strong connection to its natural surroundings. When GRT Architects took on the renovation, they made sure to respect this element of the home, along with its strong and rational design. 

Guided by the desire to accentuate the home's founding elements, the design team made color and material choices based on Thrun's original selections. 

The interior of the airy home is defined by two monumental 102-foot-long, east-west beams that run the length of the house—carrying the main load of the roof and defining an east-west axis that's visible from the exterior and from every room. Smaller north-south rafters are expressed similarly, creating a feeling of expansive ceilings.

Originally painted dark brown, the interiors were updated with a low-gloss black, while the ceilings were painted white. Only the primary beams that travel the length of the house were left with an exposed natural grain.

The gray textured walls were created with a Belgian product called Mortex, which was originally developed for the swimming pool industry. Similar to a thin concrete, it creates a clean and handmade-looking surface texture. It was chosen to highlight the weight of the two fireplaces.

Terra-cotta tiles cover the floor throughout the home, an original design element that helped influence the rest of the material choices in the renovation.  

"We’re most proud of being asked what was original and what was added. The house itself is at the same time humble, honest, rational, and unexpected—and we strove to make our contributions in the same spirit." -Rustam Mehta, GRT Architects

New spaces were designed to be integrated yet recognizable. In the kitchen, breakfast nook, library, and wet bar, colors and materials were updated to create a fresh yet subtle look.

The overhangs were originally designed to prevent direct sunlight from overheating the home through its significant southern exposure. This was a forward-thinking and environmentally responsible passive measure to keep everything cool, especially since the original windows were made with uninsulated glass.

Looking south, the home itself recedes into the background. The architecture frames the views across the Hudson towards Manhattan's skyline and the Tappan Zee bridge. 

Project Credits

-Year built: 2016

-Square footage: 2,800 square feet total (renovation: 1,485 square feet)

-Architect of renovation: GRT Architects :Tal Schori, Rustam Mehta, and Nathan Geller

-Builder/general contractor: Matt Gauldin

-Cabinetry design/installation: Max Wang

-Mortex finish installation: Patrick Sim of Babo Construction 

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