This Tudor house, built in 1915
in the neighborhood developed by the Van Sweringen brothers, has been named
Casa Uccello, “the house of birds,” by the present owners. In
the five years they have lived here, they have accomplished an extensive
renovation and in one area, a complete transformation, all of which they
describe as “a work of love.” The result is a wonderful home
that, despite its size and grandeur, has a very livable quality, enhanced
and lightened by the bird motif throughout.
Left of the entryway is a huge sunken living room with two-story windows
of leaded glass, a large bay at the west end, and a massive fireplace
to scale. A “chaperone window” overlooks the area from the
second floor landing, where there is also a balcony to the outside. The
woodwork and floors have all been refurbished, much of the work done by
the owners. To the right and up one level are two dining rooms. The first
is formal; the second, which has a fireplace, is less formal and smaller
(though it easily seats 12 people).
The enormous kitchen with its high vaulted ceiling reflects one owner’s
catering background. Designed by her in collaboration with her architect,
it was created from eight rooms, including the maids’ quarters on
the second floor. The cast iron Aga stove required a new chimney and a
reinforced floor. The owner-designed mobile cabinets, which allow for
maximum flexibility, were inspired by antique bird cages. The numerous
uccelli, seemingly floating in air, are in fact small lights.
A grand staircase leads to the second floor, where in an unusual arrangement,
each bedroom leads into the next one. One can walk through them all without
ever going out into the central hall.
The reconfiguration of the kitchen area required some exterior changes.
Windows were moved, a basement door became a window, and the outside wall
was given an application of real stucco. The owners took off the attached
garage and built a new four-car garage that doubles as a pavilion/dance
studio. Murals on the four walls and ceiling give the effect of being
in a glass solarium and looking out at a fall garden.
The back yard was completely stripped. Undaunted by this summer’s
uncooperative weather, the owners installed an Italian garden that provides
a lovely view from the interior as one descends the staircase. An informal
picnic area at the back of the lot is also the work of this summer, as
is the roof garden above the kitchen.
- Large potted palms in front of house
- Bas-relief of Roman figures on landing
- Chaperone window overlooking living room
- Red and yellow harlequin pattern of kitchen floor
- Kitchen “bird” lights and vaulted ceiling with birds
- Portrait of owners dancing