by Michael Nocella, Photos by Don Cochran
Anytime someone adds onto their home, it’s likely to go one of two ways: they could make it better, or they might make it worse. For a recent build dubbed “Trout Point” added onto a home on Keuka Lake, the homeowners’ decision certainly seems to have made things better.
The story goes like this: in 2014, the homeowners bought the property and knocked down the existing home to build a new one. They spent the next few years realizing it was almost a perfect lake house. But, according to them, it needed one more room, one more space. They eventually put together a team to build the addition.
Over the last couple of years, that team executed the homeowners’ vision to perfection – and then some. The team included Morabito Architects, Hough Builders, DeStefano & Chamberlain (engineering), NEWwoodworks, Interior Designer Val Leonardi, and New Energy Works.
Everyone involved with the “Trout Point” project – completed at the end of 2021 – looks back on the journey fondly. Especially the clients.
“We’ve had so much fun already in the short time that we’ve had it built,” says one of the homeowners, who preferred to stay anonymous. “The porch, the bar – it’s just all perfect for having company over. Even if it’s rainy, we now have the room to play shuffleboard or darts. It’s what was missing. We’re so happy we pulled the trigger to add it on.”
So, what makes this addition so special? It’s a long list. But at the top of that list is paying close attention to the details. One of the bigger challenges of this project was making sure the addition looked like it wasn’t, well, an addition. This was achieved by New Energy Works, who worked on both the original home, and the addition. Both times, they incorporated a timber frame.
“They had an idea of the design,” recalls Eric Fraser of New Energy Works. “They were really focused on having this new part of the house feel like it’s a more relaxed version of the existing space that was created. But they wanted it to be tied in. There had to be common threads. They didn’t want it to feel like some weird addition that was just put on. The natural integration of the timber frame – having that carry over to the new space made a lot of sense.”
Maintaining the essence of the original home in the new addition was a challenge because of where the homeowners wanted the addition to go, recalls architect Patrick Morabito.
“The most difficult design problem here,” he explains, “was how to integrate the addition into the existing house, and integrate the porch screen room, because the owners really loved the shape and feel of that room. They didn’t want it to go away. That said, it would have been a lot easier to locate the addition somewhere else, or simply get rid of that existing room. But we made it work. We replaced the screens with solid glass, so that it just all became an incredible space that preserved what they loved about the existing room – while still giving them what they were looking for with the addition.”
“Our hearts were so happy when it was done,” stated the homeowners. “This is it; we wanted this casual feeling space to relax in that we got, and we are so happy for that. It took a team, and we had a great team of people. It looks like it was always there, it doesn’t look like an addition, that’s the beauty of it.”
The addition also includes a bar and game room so the homeowners and their friends can kick back and relax while enjoying a flawless view of Keuka Lake. It also features a custom woodworked bar, dart board, wine storage area and integrated shuffleboard court crafted by NEWwoodworks.
In addition to the execution of the project being well done, everyone involved talks about how much everyone enjoyed collaborating with one another along the way.
“I’ve been doing this work for over 50 years,” says architect Patrick Morabito. “I’ll put this client and the team on this project as the best team I’ve ever worked with in my career.”
Val Leonardi, the interior designer for the main house who came back to work on the addition, had a similar experience on the project. With a focus on a more masculine and purpose-based space, she reveled in the opportunity to revisit her earlier work on the home and echo some of the design elements she used previously into the addition, giving the seamless appearance the addition space is celebrated for.
“This was my favorite project ever,” Leonardi says. “I love it, and I love the details we were able to pinpoint. For example, the mesh incorporated into the cabinets and the color of the wood, the stone, the floor, every little finish, it all went beyond my expectations. When they brought me in on the addition project, the first thing the homeowners said was that they wanted it to feel more relaxed and less formal than the rest of the house. It was intended to be a space where you could walk in from the lake with a wet bathing suit and feel comfortable, to make it feel less formal. So, I wanted to really take that idea and run with it, and I think we achieved that in the final result.”
Adds Eric Fraser of New Energy Works: “It was fun to collaborate on this project, in all stages. From everything from the design to the small details. It was just a really enjoyable process that we were fortunate enough to be a part of. It’s on the short list of very, very memorable projects when you start to think about all the people that were involved.”
Tom King of Hough Builders noted a great team can only go as far as a client will let them.
“The homeowners were absolutely great to work with,” he says. “I would describe the homeowners as cheerleaders for creativity, they brought such energy to the project, and they wanted everyone involved to be part of that energy. It was an amazing project. With some projects you get the feeling you are just adding onto the shoreline, but this home just stands out and it is one that everyone references when talking about houses on the lake.”
Morabito said one of his favorite parts about the project is that the space “plays as well as it looks.” He knows this because the homeowners had everyone involved in the project over for a little soirée not too long ago, and everyone had a blast. They all agreed it was a project they’ll remember for a long time.
“It was the execution of the design,” says Morabito. “Every detail that was part of the original design now lives in real life. Every little detail that we came up with in the design process, it got brought to life just like we imagined it – if not a little bit better.”