Neutral Serenity

A Hudson Valley family looks to achieve balance and harmony between the interior and exterior living spaces of their beautiful Scarsdale home.


Text by Sara E. Murphy      Photography by Peter Krupenye

When the current owners of this sprawling Scarsdale, NY abode first found their future dream home in 2011, all was not quite as thoughtfully refined as you see it today. Rather, the Hudson Valley colonial was full of potential but still “very vanilla,” said Nicole Riess of Legacy Construction Northeast, the custom home building firm brought in to refresh the space. And refresh they did: Working hand-in-hand with Old Greenwich-based architects Alisberg Parker and Manhattan interior design firm Vicente Wolf Associates, Nicole and company set about an end-to-end renovation of the home. The end result left the residence fully updated with a clean and modern aesthetic. Inside, that is. 

With rich marble countertops, cool hardwood flooring, and a circular wall of windowed doors blanketing the room in natural light, the open concept kitchen now easily leant itself to entertaining family and friends. But step out those back doors, and the tranquil, go-ahead-and-stay-awhile environment quickly changed. Instead of the luxurious entertaining space desired, the expansive outdoor area was sadly underutilized, covered with a worn tennis court years past its prime and packed full of copious overplanting and rock outcropping that left very little clean, usable outdoor space. 


And so in early 2013, operation-renovation moved outdoors, with a focus on maintaining “interior-quality materials that also truly work in the outdoor elements,” explained Riess.  The family’s goal was clear: To make the outside as immaculate and enjoyable an environment as the inside … And to do so quickly. After all, the family certainly wouldn’t mind “swimming by Memorial Day.”


The great transformation began with an extension of the back terraces and the removal of restrictive railings that had previously blocked the flow to the vast yard. Using simple stone veneer, the area immediately outside of the kitchen was turned into a stylishly accessible spot perfect for relaxation and socializing alike. Rounded Bedford-stone steps mirroring the shape of the house create an amphitheater-style entrance into the lawn, where they are met by a second small series of subtle bluestone steps tucked into the grass.


 The out-of-date tennis court? Gone, replaced with a large, perfectly level—and thus perfectly usable—stretch of grassy terrain and an oversized rectangular pool and spa. This is is completed with an electric retractable cover and is surrounded by a formal boxwood garden boasting iceberg roses, hydrangeas and rotating seasonal annuals. A state-of-the-art sound system by Port Chester’s Innerspace Electronics is seamlessly integrated throughout, but you wouldn’t know it: the speakers and subwoofers are all hidden or disguised among the natural elements. Despite the incognito act, the full-range speaker system – controlled via iPhone or iPad – emits such strong, even sound that Reiss jokes the owners “could put on a concert for all of Scarsdale.”


Next to the pool sits a trellis-covered dining terrace, featuring a fully-functioning bar with stunning concrete waterfall top, built-in barbecue and refrigerator making it just as easy—and appealing—to dine outdoors as in. Across the smooth stone sits an open-air pool house with an outdoor shower, retractable roof, plush sofas and flowing white fabrics inspired by designer Vicente Wolf’s travel in Asia. “I wanted to step outside of the box of your typical ‘pool/dining’ area,” he explains, ultimately “creating a space that invokes a sense of quality and serenity through texture, woods, and a neutral color palette.”


Every corner of the property “truly focuses on enhancing the joy of entertaining outside,” says landscape architect Rivi Oren. Working closely with the owners, Oren made sure all elements of the ceremonial lawn were both beautifully curated and easily utilized—including a culinary-grade vegetable garden that sits to the side of the home. Bursting with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, herbs, and a rotating selection of seasonal vegetables, the picturesque garden is surrounded by warm yellow roses and daisies interspersed with golden-toned grasses. 

Accomplishing such a fast-paced transformation of the property “had its challenges,” acknowledges Legacy Construction’s Reiss—quickly completing extensive underground drainage, coordinating tight movement from one task to the next—but in the end, “I’m proud to say every element came together seamlessly to create a new paradise, of sorts.”


As the sun sets, a subtly dramatic lighting setup showcases the path to a charmingly rustic stone fire pit that sits along an axis across the yard from the dining area. Made with classic fireplace bricks and complementary noble hill stone, the fire pit can accommodate more than a dozen revelers around it at any given time. And indeed it often does, as the owners proudly use it almost every night possible. Because when your yard feels like a luxurious vacation destination, it can be rather difficult to conjure a convincing reason to head back indoors. 




+ Contractor Legacy Construction Northeast, 4 MacDonald Avenue, Armonk, NY 10504, 914.273.4511

+ Architect Alisberg Parker,, 222 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, CT 06870, 203.637.8730

+ Interior Design Vicente Wolf Associates,, 333 West 39th Street, 10th FL, New York, NY 10018, 212.465.0590

+ Landscape Architect Rivi Oren,, 74 Woodlawn Avenue, New Rochelle, NY, 10804, 914.833.0752

+ Sound System, Innerspace Electronics,, 74 Fox Island Road, Port Chester, NY 10573, 914.937.9700