TPL Arrcitect

In The News


The art and craft of blending
two lives (and households) into one.

Photography by Thomas Moore

A mutual friend introduced them at a Super Bowl party in 2004. "We were so engrossed in conversation that we totally missed Janet Jackson's

When they decided to get married in 2006, their first thought was to buy something new together. After scouting what was on the market, they decided they both really loved North Salem and the property where Barbara had been living since 1999. But her house, a nondescript raised ranch, needed an extreme makeover. So the couple began their search for an architect. They interviewed six or seven, but none of them really clicked with the Bissonettes' vision. One day, divine intervention pointed them in the right direction.

As Paul recalls, it was a gorgeous summer day and the couple was looking forward to having family come up for a reunion and cookout. Suddenly, their quiet rural neighborhood erupted in a cacophony of construction noises coming from the next-door neighbor's property. "It was so loud, you had to shout to be heard," Barbara says. So Paul went over to beseech his neighbor to temporarily stop the work, offering to pay for the crew’s time.

His neighbor, Maria Bilotta, of the kitchen-design family, invited him into her newly renovated home and graciously agreed to send the workers home. The cookout was saved and, serendipitously, the search for an architect was over. Paul fell in love with the style of Bilotta's house, designed by architect Terry Lennon of North Salem, who specializes in Arts and Crafts-style houses.

The resulting renovation is a revelation. Gone are any remnants of the raised ranch. In its place stands a stunning cedar-shake Arts and Crafts home, perfectly sited midway up a long, rolling hillside. A beautiful mahogany front porch offers sweeping views of the couple's "zen garden," large outcroppings of stone ledge uncovered in the renovation process.

"I designed the house in response to Paul and Barbara's lifestyle," says Lennon. "They like being outdoors and looking over the property, so we have the covered front porch with the screened-in sun porch next to it, a patio out back, and a slate terrace off the master bedroom,"

"We have dinner on the sun porch every night," Barbara says. "We get such pleasure sitting here, looking out at the view. I think this is the prettiest part of Westchester," After what Paul described as an "enormously long process" to get approval from the town of North Salem, New York State, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and others, the Bissonettes finally got the green light to transform the wetlands down the hill from the house back into the pond that it once was.

The Bilotta-designed kitchen features simple Shaker-style cabinets and graphite-colored GE appliances from Home Depot. The refrigerator has an energy-saving refreshment center built into the front—a panel folds down, providing access to drinks without opening the whole door. The kitchen, which opens up to a rear patio area, is scheduled to be finished this summer. The couple also plans to expose more rock outcroppings in the back yard and create a path up the hill.

They decided to have one great room instead of a separate den and living room. Since they didn't want to look at a television when it wasn't on, they had it built into a wall niche; an Alphonse Mucha art nouveau print flips up to reveal the flat-panel television.

The furnishings are an artful blend of the two households: an alcove built in the dining room accommodates the china cabinet from Paul's house in Pound Ridge; the table and chairs were Barbara's. The antique secretary in the living room that Paul's late wife had selected decades ago now holds little teapots and other tchotchkas that Barbara collects; the piano has been in Barbara's family since her childhood. "I grew up with the baby grand," she says of the refurbished 1927 piano. "It traveled with me wherever I moved, but I used it more to hold family photos than for playing." John Ford in Peekskill changed all that, rebuilding the insides, restoring the wood finish; the ivory keys are original.

"We wanted this house to be a home we could grow old in, a home with ease of accessibility," Barbara says. "Filled with places to sit and drink wine and look out at the property," adds Paul.

To that end, the two guest rooms downstairs, connected by a Jack and Jill bathroom, were designed with their future in mind, with wider doors and fixtures chosen for aging in place. But until then, the couple enjoys the spacious master retreat which takes up the bulk of the second floor, with a marble bath, an exercise/office area, gas fireplace, outdoor terrace, even a "morning kitchen" complete with refrigerator, sink, coffeemaker, toaster. "It's so nice to be able to get up, have our coffee and some toast without having to go downstairs," Barbara says. Indeed, it's easy to imagine never leaving this room at all. Mission accomplished.


Architect:Terry Lennon, T P L Architect 914-276-1387
Landscape: Mike Labriola (914) 273-6530
Kitchen: Bilotta Kitchens Television cabinet: TV Coverups. Fireplace mantel: Country Road Associates, Millbrook

Terence P. Lennon AIA