Once a traditional cabin worn down by time, this A-frame house has been beautifully transformed into a residence that feels completely new without forgetting its roots. A design by Bromley Caldari Architects, this house on New York’s Fire Island sits on a pristine bayfront lot which would have been spoiled by the construction of a brand new building. Instead, the homeowners and architects decided to completely reinvent the existing A-frame, with a focus on opening up the interior, adding exterior recreation space, and giving a luxurious modern flair to each aspect of the building. On the outside, a new elevated patio deck was added, complete with a lit pool, hot tub, and built-in bench seating. In addition, the wooden house was covered with a new metal roof, with tall windows added to the sloping sides in many locations to let light in. Finally, the waterside face of the house was redone in silver tones with greater glass space than ever before, naturally illuminating and opening up everything inside.
The floorplan of the house has been significantly altered, with the number of bedrooms reduced dramatically. All this extra space does not go to waste, either, allowing for vast living areas at the front of the house and spacious bedrooms at the rear. The main public room of the house features two-story ceilings, and the spiral staircase of the dwelling has been split and turned into a system of winding flights and landings leading all the way to the third floor. Each room is placed to take maximum advantage of new sources of sunlight while taking into account its individual function in the home.
Occupying a picturesque plot of land with a small private beach, the house’s dated A-Frame architecture had become a burden. Instead of starting anew and risking the destruction of the property in the process, major renovations were made to keep the house fresh without sacrificing its homey atmosphere.
All along the angular sides of the cabin, vast new windows have been added, helping to transform the interior from a dreary closed-in cottage to an full-on open beach home.
On the street’s edge, most of the wooden rear wall of the dwelling has been kept intact to isolate those within and keep the house livable. On the opposite edge, the story is completely different.
At one edge of the property, where the house’s lot borders an occupied neighboring piece of land, a wooden barrier wall has been built, interrupted only by this patio deck, which leads through a door and over dune grass toward the house.
The roof doesn’t just slope on the sides; it moves outward at the front and rear as it rises as well, forming an awning over the home’s top level to protect from excess sunlight and add visual interest to the design. In fact, the overhang is pronounced enough to cover the entire front walkway of the house, conveniently keeping the elements out.
The silver glass-paneled facade at the surf-facing side of the building, paired with the elegant, minimally squared-off geometry of its patio, help to demonstrate the transformation from closed-in cabin to contemporary beach house.
The pool is very intelligently placed into the deck, appearing to be in-ground from the house without actually having to be placed into the sands, which would likely break local laws or have to be expensively reinforced. The deck forms a sort of front yard for those living within, while the beach itself is technically public space.
The home and its pool are both brightly lit at night, projecting an A-shaped beacon towards the water. Though this might seem to raise privacy concerns, the arrangement of interior rooms and the obscuring nature of the facade’s window frames allow for full protection of the dwelling’s occupants from the eyes of passing boaters of beachcombers.
Next to the pool, an deck extension just beyond the home’s dining rooms provides an alternative eating space for times of warm weather or outdoor relaxation.
Beach-facing window walls appear as a series of rectangular approximations inside their triangular frame, vaguely outlining the usable vertical space inside. This edge of the residence is responsible for the most sunlight entering the home.
The most dramatic portion of the house’s transformation is inside, where the traditional layout of an A-Frame cabin has been completely tossed aside in the favor of an airy, spacious, and luxurious arrangement of rooms and wooden structure. Most importantly, the homeowners’ iron staircase has been split in half and moved sideways, giving a free-flowing central area to the house without altering its architecture.
The bottom two floors of the house enjoy spectacular rearward views, nearly unobstructed by window frames. During the warmest months, the bottom floor’s window doors can be pushed aside to open the living room up to the pool deck and allow fresh air in.
Near the rear of the floor, a few additional rooms occupy a single-story portion of the level, with structural beams above strung with elegant metal light fixtures in a linear pattern.
Due to the unique slope of the abode’s A-Frame structure, the kitchen’s display shelving grows closer as it rises. The kitchen is minimal and its surfaces are lighter than most other rooms around it, partially due to the fact that it receives less direct natural light than the living room.
The kitchen is tucked into its own small corner of the living area, under a second-floor overhang and partially behind the stairs which lead up there. Though the room is open to the living space beyond, it still retains a separate identity.
The staircases use a black metal frame reminiscent of various furniture items on each level, and are draped in the same wood variety that is used for the house’s interior walls. Though it is the most striking feature of the home’s living spaces, the design of the stairs and its landings is perfectly integrated into the overall interior decor.
Deep bay windows were added to each side of the building to accommodate the girth of its stairways, which could not fit within the original boundaries of the house. The separation of the spiral stairs into two distinct sections allows for free passage from the front to rear of the dwelling on its bottom level, which was previously hindered by a central flight.
On the top level, the spiral stairs open up to a sitting area which has the same depth as the living room below, but is significantly thinner and shorter because of the ceiling’s crest.
Despite the fact that over half of the entire volume of the house taken up by this single living space, the room still feels personal and homey, lit by warm bulbs reflecting on smooth wood walls and ceilings. The area is both spacious and intimate at once.
The second story of the residence contains only a single area: the master suite. With its sliding doors open, the central bed looks out over the ocean with a view rivaling that of the rooms below it. Along each sloping side wall, drawers and cabinets hold the homeowners’ clothes and belongings without having to awkwardly fit an upright dresser into the room.
At the back edge of the master bedroom, two sliding doors lead to walk-in closets and to the adjoining bathroom for two. Though these spaces have a row of windows overlooking the street beyond, the architecture of the house draws the eyes of passers-by elsewhere, preserving privacy.
In this relatively cramped portion of the house, each part of the bathroom is packaged efficiently to provide ample space for a luxurious, comfortable daily routine without using any more square footage than is necessary.
A smaller bedroom above the master takes up the rear portion of the dwelling’s top level, with its own compact bathroom amenities arranged along a hallway leading between the front and rear of the floor.
At the waterside edge the top floor, a casual, airy sitting room takes up the remaining vertical space over the roof’s peak.
Bromley Caldari Architects