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The Home Before
A photographer and his family created a house that works from an easily forgettable ranch home in Westchester County.
The original 1940s ranch, though visible from the road, was easy to miss because of its low-slung profile, tired gray shingles, and far-more-fetching farmhouse neighbor. Nonetheless, the house beckoned to Bill Abranowicz and Andrea Raisfeld who admired its clean lines and potential.
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With the help of both a contractor and architectural designer, the couple was able to create the house of their dreams in three individual renovations.
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Cedar shakes replaced the original gray shingles and were sealed to enhance their color.
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A marble-topped island and three Thonet bentwood stools are comfortable for quick meals or homework.
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In the home of Bill and Andrea, the kitchen is the center of activity. Andrea uses the refrigerator's chalkboard front to greet the kids with a daily word, brainteaser, or math problem.
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The office, once a two-car garage, has pitched ceilings of Douglas-fir boards, a back slate floor, and a large corkboard for displaying and viewing photographs.
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The Dining Room
A Danish-modern dining table is surrounded by chunky chairs that were picked up for $5 each at a school tag sale.
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The walls are adorned with a mix of photography masters such as Robert Mapplethorpe as well as unsung friends and acquaintances.
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Inside the front door, jackets and gear are stored in ebonized white-oak cubbies built by Willard Brewer, a cabinet maker from Urbana, Illinois, who crafted all of the house's new cabinets.
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The Living Room
Bill's photograph of a cloudy Greek sky adds calm to the living room. The slatted bench below was found for a few dollars at a garage sale.
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Living Room Detail
Bill and Andrea bought the chaise at a New York City flea market and covered it in leather. The flokati pillow was a gift from Bill's agent. An oblong seascape by Jim Teschner, a friend, hangs above the George Nelson credenza. Lined up in a clean graphic style on a ledge, clear glass spice bottles are filled with sand from every beach the family has set foot on.
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The Master Bedroom
A high gable brings in brilliant light filtered by maple and hemlock trees. The faux-antler chandelier came from an antique market.
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Just off the master bedroom is an office that Andrea uses for personal projects like wrapping gifts only to hide them in a secret cabinet.
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The Children's Bedroom
In their 6-year-old daughter's room, the contractor created a sleeping nook that includes a bed, trundle, and bookcase. Andrea found the vintage wallpaper on the Internet.
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Bill's black-and-white photographs hang in a hallway joining the bedrooms. The pictures chronicle the family's history with candid charm.
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Off the kitchen, the newly added screen porch has the unvarnished feeling of camp. Andrea had the Japanese-modern-style picnic table and benches made for Bill's 40th birthday.