A Tudor Revival Home Gets an Update
July 25, 2023
In a house that was built nearly a century ago to look vintage, a renovation team balances yesterday with today.
Text by Robert Kiener Photography by Robert Benson
Seamless. It’s a word that architects Charles Haver and Stewart Skolnick use often when describing their renovation of an elegant 1930s Tudor Revival, which just won an AIA Connecticut Alice Washburn Award.
“The owners wanted to remove a flat-roofed wing that had been added in the 1970s and wasn’t in keeping with the home’s original design,” explains Haver. “And they asked us to replace it with a new wing containing a family room that would flow into a renovated kitchen, both of which should blend in seamlessly with the home’s classic style.”
The renovation team took their cue from the original structure—designed nearly a century ago by Connecticut architect Walter Crabtree to look like an antique, even back then. To match the same wavy brickwork featured on the original exterior, builder Chris Spiller of CDS Contracting tried out several different masons until he found one who could duplicate the free-form design. “That wavy, quirky look goes against everything that masons have been taught,” explains Spiller. “It took us a while to find someone who could duplicate it.” And the wing’s roof, like the original, features some intentionally cracked/slanted slates, used to add to the home’s vintage appeal.
The interior echoes the past, too. A Tudor arch near the original staircase inspired the architects to add similar arches in both the kitchen and family room. “We wanted to respect—and pay tribute to—the original architectural design, while at the same time devise an interior that is suitable for a more contemporary way of life,” says Skolnick. For example, the addition’s family room flows into an expansive kitchen, much like you’d find in a contemporary home.
Other elements boldly fuse the old with the new. Skolnick notes that the kitchen’s industrial-looking stainless-steel refrigerator, freezer, and island contrast nicely with the antique French limestone floor. Elsewhere monolithic plaster walls abut white-oak-planked walls. “By using a back-and-forth vocabulary of contrasting materials,” explains the architect, “you both bring attention to the different materials and create visual interest.”
In this renovation, sometimes old blends with new, and sometimes new complements old. To carry it off successfully, the execution had to be done, well, seamlessly.