Though this 1950s-era house had a bland design, the original architect had cleverly sited it to take advantage of the privacy of the wooded rocky lot in a densely populated suburban New York town. The house had the beginnings of a horizontal design with a long, low-pitched roof, but the look had not been fully realized, says architect James Estes. “With this site and the owner's willingness to respond to the existing architecture, we decided to expand on the original style,” he says. “It also proved economical to keep what was there.”

Warren Jagger, Warren Jagger Photography

To emphasize the planar nature of the house, the architect used large windows with horizontal muntin bars and 1-by-10-inch cedar plank siding, which creates deep, parallel shadows on the sides of the house. “We really changed the look by making it very horizontal and punching out the corners to make it more transparent, so it sits lighter on the site,” he says. Corner windows also make the rooms appear larger. The new wood windows are a mix of custom fixed units and standard operating units. The green color of the exterior frames blends with the wooded setting.

The original entryway was lower than the driveway, making it difficult to find. Estes raised it to align with the garage and added an 8-by-10-foot vestibule with a reverse-pitch overhang that highlights the entry and stands out against the flat plane of the garage door. “It's always a challenge to have a house with the entry high up and the living area lower down. You need a transitional space,” Estes says. The vestibule directs visitors to the public spaces below. A bridge leads to the private living area that includes an expanded master suite, a new bedroom, and a guest room.

Architect James Estes played up the existing horizontality of the house, adding interest with a pop-up master bedroom, corner windows, and thick cedar plank siding. He raised the entry -- originally on a lower level -- to a more convenient location near the driveway and used a glass vestibule to give it prominence.
Warren Jagger, Warren Jagger Photography Architect James Estes played up the existing horizontality of the house, adding interest with a pop-up master bedroom, corner windows, and thick cedar plank siding. He raised the entry -- originally on a lower level -- to a more convenient location near the driveway and used a glass vestibule to give it prominence.

An addition above the garage provides much-needed space for the master suite. The room is perched higher up and resembles a tree house. Expanding the private areas upstairs required extending the family room on the lower level. French doors on the rear of the house further extend the living space by connecting it to the private wooded yard. The judges liked the crisp, clean lines of the dramatic exterior transformation and the simple detailing on the interior. They noted that the house now has “universal appeal.” Category: Whole-house remodeling, over $500,000

Location: Bronxville, N.Y.

Contractor: Patrick Deane, Patrick Deane Construction Management, Yonkers, N.Y.

Designer: James Estes, Estes/Twombly Architects, Newport, R.I.