Woodland Retreat

The Woodland Retreat is a transformation of a 1960’s ranch house that dramatically connects to nature and the New York region.

SYA reinvented an existing 1968 modernist Eichler-style house into a dramatic woodland retreat. The existing house, situated on a steep slope, was an “upside-down” house with living spaces and a main bedroom suite on the second floor and bedrooms on the lower floor. Large glass walls on both sides of the house provided views of Manhattan and the greater region large as well as an adjoining 2000-acre nature preserve.

The design intention was to create a woodland retreat by extending the house into the landscape with new outdoor rooms visible through the glass walls. The existing front deck/balcony, which stretched the entire length of the front, was completely rebuilt with new structure, ipe’ cladding, and an elegantly detailed steel and steel mesh railing. The steel mesh, which allows for increased transparency, was surplus from the new Staten Island Ferry terminal in Staten Island. The overall effect is that of being up in a treehouse.

The rear pool space was transformed into an expansive private outdoor “room”, perfect for quiet contemplation of nature, swimming, or lively parties for family and friends. The pool deck was replaced with an acid etched concrete deck and the existing 8’0“ high retaining wall was replaced with a new concrete landscape block wall with landscaping and a minimal fence on top. Ivy was grown over the new wall and weeping forsythia hangs from the top to give the effect of the nature preserve pouring over the wall.

Interiors were gut renovated to create a sense of openness, heighten the connection to the outdoors and provide a feeling of “comfortable” modernism. The interior furnishings were comprised of mid-century modern and contemporary pieces along with SYA custom-designed furniture which included cantilevered bookcases, a free-floating media room divider, and a glass and steel dining table detailed similarly to the front deck steel railing. Original art, mainly from Dieu Donne’, an artist collaborative now in Brooklyn (the owner was on board) is displayed throughout.

The result is a sophisticated woodland retreat where the outside landscape, as it changes with every season, becomes part of the decor of the interior spaces. This profound connection to nature provides a calm oasis in the dense urban sprawl of the New York region.