Project description provided by the architects*
Pelham Manor: A Mid-century Modern Home Designed by a Pioneering Husband and Wife Architecture Team Gets a Thoughtful Update by Specht Architects. Jay and Dana Vasar were living and working in Manhattan when they found their dream home in Pelham Manor. Most of the homes in the Pelham Manor area were built in the 1920s with great big lots. But the couple were immediately drawn to the only mid-century home in the area. Built in 1961, the MCM was designed by architecture husband and wife team Harold and Judith Edelman, The Edelman Partnership (now ESKW/A). They were civic architects, Judith a pioneer for women in architecture, and this was their first residential design. The Edelmans were modernist architects and this was a case study. They lived in the home for many years.
The homes .75 acre lot originally belonged to a catholic church and was parceled off and sold to the Edelman’s. The Vasars loved that lot was quiet and seemed private, the home is flanked by the old 15,000SF church and the rectory. They purchased the quirky mid-century home in 2013 for 920k and moved in. Over the years the house had gone through a couple of hands and bad renos and add-ons. A nor’easter in 2018 caused a giant pine down leveling off the sunroom addition in the back. This prompted the couple to start the home renovation. They hired award winning Austin architect, Scott Specht, Specht Architects, to keep the integrity of the design while bringing it up to 2020 standards. The original house was 2,400 square feet, Specht added 1,500 turning it from three beds, three baths to a four bed, 4.5 bath home.
“The original house was just a basic rectangle, a formalized design, low to the ground — with a theatrical proscenium across at the font. The layout was open with a great amount of natural light. I really looked into how to restore the good parts and get rid of the rest. It was not a classic mid-century design but we wanted to keep the spirit of the house intact,” says Scott Specht, Specht Architects.
The front of the house featured large jalousie windows. Specht kept the front exterior concept – but the windows obviously were updated. The entrance was moved and recessed to create a vestibule entry. The original entry was flat to the exterior, so the design team created an arrival moment. The original cedar wood frame, beams, and cedar ceiling planks were kept and restored. Specht expanded the downstairs which was originally just the garage and storage and now features a family room, extra bedroom and bath, and a walkout to the sprawling yard. Other updates include new kitchen and baths. Oak was used for custom cabinetry with quartz counters. The intent was to keep it appropriate for a mid-century home, giving a nod to the design and respecting the time period but doesn’t play into. Floors are white oak throughout.
The home renovation was done on a budget took nearly two years at roughly 750K. The Vasars loved the original house, its history, and are so happy they can pay homage to the local New York architecture couple by keeping their legacy alive.
Architects: Specht Architects
Location: Pelham Manor, New York
Photography: Dror Baldinger