If you are on the hunt for a bit of mid-century modern style for a suburban retreat within an easy commute of the city, Westchester County is one spot to focus your search.
There’s a swathe of intriguing mid-20th century architecture in an area of Westchester County just east of the Hudson River. There are houses by Roy O. Allen and Roy Johnson in Briarcliff Manor, Arthur Witthoefft in Armonk and a Frank Lloyd Wright-planned Usonian community in Pleasantivlle, just to name a few.
The post-World War II suburban boom brought new residents and new design to the area. Many architects worked to embrace the landscape, and the sometimes rocky and wooded terrain was particularly suited to modern designs that took their cues from the natural surroundings.
An example of such mid-century design is the striking house on the market at 792 Sleepy Hollow Road in Briarcliff Manor.
Perched on a sloping site and set on stilts to work with the tricky topography, the house takes full advantage of its nine-acre wooded site. The wood sided exterior blends with the surrounding trees, and wraparound decks and large expanses of glass bridge the gap between indoors and outdoors.
The house was designed in 1964 as the home of Emanuel and Stella Pisetzner. Emanuel Pisetzner, an engineer, started at engineering firm Weiskopf & Pickworth in 1953 and stayed until his retirement in the early 1990s.
His work included the United States Holocaust Museum with architect James Ingo Freed; the east wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston with I.M. Pei; and the Union Carbide Headquarters in Danbury, Conn., with Kevin Roche.
The current owners bought the house in 2003 from the Pisetzner family, making them just the second owners of the property. They added new windows, radiant-heat floors, and updated the bathrooms and mechanicals, according to the listing. The renovations are sympathetic to the style of the house, and its 20th-century spirit is still intact.
With the abundance of windows, decks and outdoor space it’s not surprising that on the interior the emphasis is on the views and easy access to the landscape. Roughly 2,700 square feet is spread out over two floors, with the main living spaces on the upper story.
Although there are separate living, dining and kitchen spaces, the floor plan feels fairly open. The expansive views create a bit of a treehouse feel.
Look beyond the more traditional furnishings, and the clean lines of the original house are apparent.
The eat-in kitchen has simple slab-front cabinets, in a mid-century-appropriate orange, and modern stainless steel appliances.
There’s a covered porch just off the kitchen, expanding the eating and entertainment space and repeating the outdoors-indoors theme.
While the upper level has treetop views, the lower level has direct access to the landscape with a wraparound deck and sliding glass doors.
The house has four bedrooms and, based on the photos, the master appears to be on the upper level and the other three bedrooms below.
Some of the lower-level bedrooms are currently set up as offices. The listing notes that since there is a separate entrance at the lower level, it could be used “as professional space.”
The two full baths have been updated, and the neutral palette and wood cabinetry blend in with the rest of the house. The Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired glass doors are perhaps an attempt to introduce some mid-century character.
The current owners did extensive work on the grounds, according to the listing, adding new decks and expanding the outdoor entertainment space with seating areas on different levels.
If you need to escape all that woodland bliss for a bit, the central business district of Briarcliff Manor is a few miles away. For film buffs, there’s the nonprofit Jacob Burns Film Center about five miles west. There are five screens and regular events with filmmakers, actors and screenwriters. If you need to get into the city, there’s a Metro North stop at Philipse Manor, just about four miles south.
The house is listed for $1.595 million by Margaret Atkinson of Houlihan Lawrence.
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