ALBANY, NY —
The view from the top can be really sweet, and in the case of a completely overhauled 1960s ranch house located here, this is particularly true.
In fact, the views are what drove the design of the entire remodel.
“The whole idea of the design for the house was built around the views,” explains designer Joe Hochberg, president and founder of Millbrook Custom Kitchens in Nassau, NY, just outside of the Empire State capital. He and his wife bought this house, which is also just outside of the capital, because of the spectacular views they knew they could have. It overlooks the city, plus three mountain ranges. “It had the best views in the area.”
However, to frame those views the house needed some major renovations. “It was built in the 1960s, but it was never remodeled,” reports Hochberg. “We had specific desires for this home, so we had to gut the entire thing, and take it back to the studs. We moved walls and ceilings, and we even added windows to the basement. That’s how extensive this remodel was for us.”
When it was completed two years later, they had exactly what they wanted: a house whose every room captured a spectacular upstate vista – enough to truly put them in a New York state of mind, just as the song says.
AUTHENTIC ART DECO
Since the Hochbergs gutted the entire house, they had carte blanche when it came to defining the footprint of what became the new kitchen, dining room and enclosed hot tub/bar area.
“We weren’t hampered by existing windows and doors,” Hochberg notes. “The most important thing to us was capturing the views. Thus, we knew that the kitchen needed to be laid out around them.”
He began with a space measuring 65' long, and installed floor-to-ceiling windows on one long wall. He then turned his focus on the kitchen’s footprint. “We knew we wanted a refrigerator and an oven at an angle at each end of the kitchen. We have a similar set-up in our house on Lake George, but this time we wanted these two appliances at either end with the cooktop in the middle as the focal point.”
The couple chose a Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer, a KitchenAid dishwasher, a stacked, stainless steel DCS microwave oven, oven and warming drawer, and a six-burner, stainless steel, gas DCS cooktop.
Next, Hochberg wanted to apply an Art Deco look to the majority of the house, including the kitchen, the adjacent dining room and enclosed hot tub/bar area, as well as the master bath. This look – what he terms “a more authentic Art Deco style” – is the latest concept he’s been perfecting.
Back in the 1970s Hochberg created the concept of the “Curved Kitchen Design,” and was inducted into the National Kitchen & Bath Hall of Fame as the originator of this concept in 1999. In this case, Hochberg really wanted to make a statement with his latest Art Deco concept in the couple’s Albany home.
To that end, he designed cabinets in the Art Deco style, replete with the style’s signature curves. He paired a mahogany veneer with solid mahogany wood edges and applied a custom stain and a high-gloss polyester finish reminiscent of Art Deco styling.
Hochberg also created a new custom hood, special cut-out doors with ribbed glass and accent doors with three wood appliqués that further supported the Art Deco look.
The toe kicks, tambour door and Häfele decorative hardware are stainless steel, which pick up the stainless steel of the appliances. Blum stainless steel Tandembox with full-extension Blumotion slides complete the cabinets’ function.
The undercabinet task lights and over-cabinet accent lights are by Tresco, while the Ambience pendant lights – which pick up the redness of the cabinetry – are from Sea Gull. These sit above the peninsula, which, like the rest of the base cabinets featuring drawers and roll-outs, is topped with granite that also has some red veining that picks up the stain of the cabinets.
“We chose the granite specifically because it had some red tones running through it, and it matched the cabinets so well,” recalls Hochberg.
As with every design and product choice for the kitchen, and the home, great care was given to the choice of the backsplash tile, as well.
“We’ve been through this a couple of times with other homes, and we know what we want and what we like, so we like to take the time to choose the right thing that will fit us and the design. We know how important the details are to a design,” he explains.
So when the couple saw the tile that adorns the backsplash now, they knew it was the right choice. “It’s a tile with a metallic, sort of bronze finish that also has a slight distressing with marks that resemble rain drops,” describes Hochberg.
A composite granite Blanco sink, a Moen faucet and a GE compactor complete the look.
Like the kitchen, “every room in the house has Millbrook Custom cabinetry, including some new designs created specifically for this project,” notes Hochberg. For example, in the adjacent dining area, Hochberg placed a custom mahogany table. It matches the inlay on the nearby Art Deco-style hutch, which he built from birdseye maple veneer.
The hutch features a golden stain with a matte finish, while its inlay is made of “mahogany with a stainless steel fan design,” describes Hochberg. The doors and shelves on top of the unit are “glass with incorporated roof lighting.”
Past the dining area is the enclosed hot tub area. Located behind the tub is a bar that is made from cherry with an ebony stain and stainless steel inlays. Behind the bar is a second wall of windows that frames views.
“We’re lucky. We have 50-mile views. We can see all the way down to the Catskills,” says Hochberg.
Capturing the views is what also drove the design of the master suite – in particular the master bath. Designed with no enclosed walls or doors, the bath is open to the bedroom, which features a very large picture window.
Hochberg laid it out in a U shape, with one sink and a Moen faucet against the wall that’s open to the bedroom and the window. The countertop then drops down to accommodate a make-up/vanity area that sits in the corner. It swings around and rises to meet another sink and Moen faucet. Adjacent to that and opposite the first sink that overlooks the bedroom and the window is the two-person, walk-in shower.
“Even when you’re in the shower, you can see the amazing view,” notes Hochberg with a smile.
Here, he installed maple cabinetry with a custom stain and inlaid stripes in alder wood veneer with a mahogany stain. Wood and stainless steel handles from Häfele complement the cabinetry.
“The curved face base cabinet on the left, as you look over the first sink through the cut-out in the wall and out the window, is a pull-out towel rack. The two ‘tower’ cabinets sitting on the DuPont Corian countertops have doors which swing out toward the integral Corian sinks, with shelves on backs of doors [for storage],” explains Hochberg. “The matching roof piece above the first sink further extends over the adjoining bed area, and houses lighting for both areas.”
To tie in the ‘tower’ cabinets, two Plexiglas rods were used above each between the cabinet and the roof unit. An arched mirror was placed above the second sink.
The spacious, 8'-long shower features two showerheads on either side. Hochberg applied 6"x9" ceramic tiles in a beige/peach marble pattern to the inside of the shower. The floor also features 6"x9" ceramic tiles.
Hochberg then turned his attention to the cabinetry in the bedroom and created separate his-and-hers closets.
Hers is done in solid natural birdseye maple with matching shelving. The bank of drawers on the left is fitted with adjustable dividers for specific storage areas. The full-length mirror door at the end of the closet hides a shoe storage cabinet. “There is another identical cabinet at the opposite end of the closet that serves to open the space,” he adds.
His wardrobe units feature three equal bays for hanger space and drawers below. The unit on the left is for linen storage and has two hamper drawers on the bottom. All of it is done in maple with antique white paint and a brown glaze on a contemporary inset panel door.
CHANGE IN SCENERY
Lastly, when Hochberg turned his attention to the guest quarters and the powder room, he applied a more traditional look to each of them. Hochberg explains: “My wife and decided that every room didn’t need to be Art Deco; plus, we feel that each room can stand on its own.”
For instance, the guest bath features “a 5-1/4' maple door with yellow paint and white glaze,” he describes. The accent pieces and knobs are natural cherry. The powder room cabinetry features a raised-panel door with a custom brown crackle finish, which creates a little bit more of an antique look.”