Among Pelham’s diverse housing stock that dates back well over 100 years, 190 Townsend Avenue is an absolute baby, not even 20 years old. Built in 1996 when the neighboring property was divided into two lots, its style reflected contemporary trends, with a cathedral-ceilinged family room leading off the kitchen and a large master bedroom suite. The contractor who built it lived there with his family until 2011 when it was bought by the Gambone family. Relocating from New York City, where a backyard is a rarity, Ken and Joanne were attracted to the property particularly for the enormous yard after they had looked at everything else that was available at the time. “You just don’t get this in many other parts of Pelham,” said Joanne who is an avid marathon runner, loves the outdoors and has planted a vegetable plot that yields fresh summer produce for the dinner table.
So, the couple, who have two youngsters attending Prospect Hill School, knew from the outset that they were going to make changes to the interior and began by replacing the draughty front door, adding an exterior porch and putting in new decorative tiling in the entryway. Fixing up the first floor bathroom came next and then they embarked on the most ambitious part of the transformation. They dropped the ceiling of the family room, which became too hot in summer due to its skylights allowing the sun to blast in, making a storage area above that they hope to turn into a walk-in closet at some time in the future. But the most interesting part of the work came next.
The hallway also had a cathedral ceiling that left a huge open space overhead as one entered the house that Joanne was not keen on and thought could be altered to better purpose. Joanne said, “I felt that the high ceiling space could be put to good use, plus from a heating and cooling standpoint it wasn’t efficient.” Cathedral-ceilinged hallways have long been a feature of up-market new construction, especially in huge, so-called McMansions, but in more modest houses they can be an unnecessary feature. Although the house has plenty of bedrooms (4, with 3-1/2 baths), Joanne yearned for an office of her own and saw how this could be incorporated into a new design that closed off the unused space above the hall.
Neighboring contractor Jerry Tomic of New Rochelle’s Top Drawer Custom Cabinetry was in charge of all the work, which was originally bid out as one project, then divided into a sequence of projects, which are ongoing. The second-floor landing was extended along the wall that adjoins the master bedroom, leading to the new office, which looks out to the front of the house through a custom-made, rounded-top Anderson window. A new oak staircase was installed with a sweeping bannister. Joanne has yet to decide whether to install a carpet runner up the staircase, sensibly letting herself live with the new layout first. Inside the new office is a stylish, fixed maple desktop made by local carpenter Marek Schnee, with white custom cabinetry and shelving above. A clever pocket door provides privacy if needed. Joanne now has a beautiful space of her own in which to work.
Because the house is of newer construction, the job held none of the surprises that often occur when demo begins on older properties; floors were level and wood was sound throughout. Routing new HVAC ducts and wiring proved no problem for Jerry and his team. Thus, the budget remained largely as advertised. Future plans for the Gambones include reconfiguring the fireplace and installing built-in cabinetry in the family room and adding a full patio in their yard. It is interesting to note that, even over a relatively short period of time, family needs and, therefore, the layout of a home can change dramatically, and the Gambones have managed these changing expectations with dexterity.