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Estate Planning

A carriage house fit for the Gilded Age completes a North Shore Long Island estate.

Project: Carriage House, Lloyd Harbor, NY

Architect: ADL III Architecture P.C., Northport, NY; Alexander D. Latham III, principal; Michael Iwanyzcko, designer

By Annabel Hsin

An eclectic mix of homes in Lloyd Harbor, NY, makes it difficult to pinpoint a common style for the region. However, what's often found is the tradition of pairing casual, yet ornate, outbuildings with formal, grand estates. In April 2004, Alexander D. Latham III, principal of Northport, NY-based ADL III Architecture P.C., was asked to design a carriage house for a client whose house he had designed and was in construction at the time. Latham had designed the main house in the Colonial Greek Revival style; satisfied with the design, the clients gave Latham the freedom to choose a style for the carriage house with the goal of including five to six garage bays with living space for guests. Tucked at the end of a cul-de-sac on the south side of the estate, Latham designed a carriage house in the Shingle Style with Craftsman embellishments, following the tradition of unique outbuildings in the region.

With a casual design in mind, Latham and his team set out to research Long Island's larger estates. "The overall design came about when we were looking at some of the larger Gold Coast estates from the Gilded Age," he says. "On Long Island there are many beautifully detailed structures and outbuildings."

Latham's decision to use the Shingle Style provided the casual look he wanted for the carriage house. "It's a very flexible style that is about the seamless unity of freely shaped massing," he says. Yet, Latham also needed the design to be rich in detail. "The Craftsman style, with its attention to detail, lent itself well to this house," he says. "Instead of having a formal eave detail with a closed soffit and a very finished look, we designed an open soffit that is a little bit more casual and informal in style and feel." Indeed, the stained-mahogany open soffit and exposed rafter tails with decorative copper gutter brackets, from The Bungalow Gutter Bracket Co. of Lexington, KY, provide understated details on the exterior.

Drawing inspiration from outbuildings on Long Island and looking in one of his favorite books, Arnold Lewis' American Houses of the Gilded Age, Latham decided to face the first floor exterior with a granite veneer and on the second floor he used a natural white-cedar perfection shingle with a 5-in. exposure. "During the Gilded Age many buildings and houses had stone on the first floor and shingle on the second floor," says Latham. "Those houses are evident from New Jersey to Maine, exhibiting a casual and rustic appearance and yet still maintaining a feeling of permanence."

Although Latham opted to use a completely different design from the main house for the carriage house, he did use some of the same materials to tie the structure in with the main house. Vermont grey slate was installed on the roof of the main house and all of the outbuildings. New York bluestone was installed on the walkways and the sunken terrace on the east side of the carriage house; granite veneer stone on an outdoor fireplace was used on the main house as well.

Following another Gilded Age precedent, a porte cochère anchored by one of the garage bays was built on the western side of the front façade to minimize the driveway needed to reach the parking court and garage bays at the back of the house. "We wanted to emulate the carriage houses that allow the client and visitors to drive through to the parking court and hide the service-oriented functions at the rear of the house, creating a grander look," says Latham. The porte cochère also allows the carriage house to maintain a single-family-house appearance in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood. "We didn't mind having one of the garage bays facing toward the front because we felt that it was in line with the nature of a carriage house, and it's not like we had to hide that fact," he says. Through the porte cochère a 5-ft. granite garden wall encloses the 2,300-sq.ft. parking court while providing, according to Latham, "a sense of enclosure and intimacy." At the eastern side of the parking court, three garage bays are built next to a small garden leading to the back entrance of the carriage house.

During the design phase, the clients appreciated Latham's design so much that they decided to eliminate one of the garage bays to designate it for living space. "They felt that this was becoming something a little bit more special and they were getting very excited about the potential of it being more than a garage structure," says Latham. "Once they saw the interior sketches they said, ‘We'll take over this one garage bay because we could use that extra space on the inside.'" The garage bay became a powder room, mudroom, walk-in closet and laundry pantry for the living space.

Along with the extra living space on the first floor, Latham opted to use a large open space for the kitchen, dining and living room areas. In these spaces, as well as in the master bedroom, Latham created a rustic carriage house feel by utilizing Craftsman elements. "The Shingle style typically has simple moldings that aren't overly elaborate, and we carried that throughout the house," says Latham. "But we wanted embellishments – certainly on the first floor."

Not only do the embellishments serve a decorative purpose, but they also separate the large open space into distinct areas. In emulating A. Hays Town's rustic interiors, Latham used an exposed brick wall to define the kitchen area. "Town created wonderful ceilings because he utilized wooden beams and brick walls together," says Latham. A stained hickory floor draws the eye to the living area, where a fireplace flanked by custom mahogany built-in cabinets serves as the focal point. The fireplace is surrounded with a blue tile, manufactured by Handcraft Tile of Topanga, CA, featuring an oak-tree motif that echoes the mature oak trees outside the bay windows on the north side of the room, as well as the exposed ceiling with oak beams reclaimed from a New England barn by Pioneer Millworks of Farmington, NY.

The mahogany newel post and railing leading up to the second floor on the south side of the living hall posed a challenge for Latham. He wanted a "different and unique take on a Craftsman railing," he says, and opted to design one himself, along with Michael Iwanyzcko, a designer at ADL III. "Instead of using a simple square baluster, we turned them at a 45-degree angle so that they give more dimension and play on the light."

On the second floor, the master bedroom was built over the porte cochère and, like the rest of the house, has custom-built mahogany windows from Brooklyn, NY-based Zeluck Windows and Doors. The windows overlook the mature oak trees on the north side and on the south side, the roof, dormers and entryway of the house. "You get glimpses of the water during the summer and it opens a little bit more when the foliage isn't on the trees," says Latham. Another focal point in the bedroom is the mahogany fireplace and mantel with built-in cabinets in the same style as those on the first floor. A cupola in the center adds to the Craftsman charm of the bedroom. "That cupola was trimmed out on the inside with mahogany beadboard and is open to the bedroom below, so it lets in a lot of natural light," says Latham.

Aware of the importance of the roof to a Shingle Style structure, Latham strove to ensure that it was flawless. "We wanted the final exterior appearance of the roof rafters, soffit and roof decking to look like it was original and not like typical soffits that are boxed out with plywood," he says. "So we stained the Douglas fir rafters to match the mahogany for the soffit and railings. We intended for the details to emulate what would have been done 100 years ago."

Completed in the summer of 2006, the carriage house proves to be a distinct structure on an estate that appears to have been built during the Gilded Age. Taking advantage of the secluded wooded site, the carriage house, though completely different in style from the main house, blends in seamlessly with the eclectic mix of styles in the region. "The carriage house," says Latham, "is a nice little discovery that is part of this beautiful estate at the end of the road."  

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