Holiday House and School Nearby the River

Holiday House and School Nearby the River

Design a house on the Hudson

The property itself posed historical challenges, too. Because it had once been part of the venerable Livingston family’s holdings, Berry originally had a contemporary interpretation of an archetypal Hudson River villa in the back of her mind. “How to design a house on the Hudson when you have all these intimidating, varied, and, eclectic traditions to contend with?” she asked herself.

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But with an architecture degree from the Cooper Union and course work at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies on her resume, she was well equipped to draw on a knowledge of architectural history and a personal predilection for modernism.

“I decided on modernism but in a vocabulary that would be substantial and allow the house to blend into the landscape. Personally, I couldn’t do anything too crazy–I’m really a traditionalist,” says Berry.

house had to complement but not impose itself on the landscape

house had to complement but not impose itself on the landscape

 

Siting and materials were, needless to say, paramount. “The house had to complement but not impose itself on the landscape,” says the architect. Nevertheless, the dramatically horizontal 3,700-square-foot structure draws on a precedent more often associated with the plains of the Midwest than the bluffs of the Hudson: the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

“With his juxtaposition of natural materials and the feeling of early modernism, Wright presented the vocabulary that felt right with the site,” she explains. (Berry also attributes the horizontal thrust of the design to the influence of the New York loft where she lived for many years. The house and the loft happen to have the same square footage, too.)

Interior: Traditional style in combining with Modern style

Natural materials appear throughout, starting with the facade’s Delaware River bluestone and treated cedar siding. “My idea was for the house to be pretty simple, not vernacular Or pretentious,” she says. One of the few flights of fancy–if one could even call it that–is an exterior fireplace that can be enjoyed in three out of four seasons, as she and her husband spend weekends there year-round, with visits from twin sons in boarding school nearby. Not only a fashion able touch, the fireplace is in keeping with the sophisticated rendition of a rugged, outdoor aesthetic.

Traditional style and modern style are combined for interior design

Traditional style and modern style are combined for interior design

Living-dining room combination

The interior offers the same intriguing combination of modernism tempered by a strong dose of the traditional. A spacious foyer makes the house feel larger than it really is and acts as a formal introduction to the glass-enclosed main space. Benefiting from windows on four exposures, the two-story combination living-dining room faces tall trees to the north and offers wide views of the Hudson and the Catskills to the south and west. “You can see the sun rising and the moon setting on three sides,” says Berry. She designed the sofa by the fireplace and had reproductions of Jean-Michel Frank chairs stained walnut to match the contemporary dining table by Chris Lehrecke. These sleek pieces are set off by an antique sideboard that once belonged to her grandmother. “It’s all the things I love,” says Berry, who, unsurprisingly, also loves to invite family and guests up to relax. “There’s no point in having a house only to find yourself staring out the window all alone.” No doubt that’s a very rare occurrence.

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