The Ribbon House

Palisades Park, NJ

A married pair of artists sought to expand and adapt this salt box-style house into a functional, attractive live/workspace while retaining certain nostalgic elements (this was the wife’s childhood home.) Their objectives included adding on a dining room; expanding the master bedroom and downstairs studio spaces; maximizing natural light; and continuing occupancy throughout.

The through-block property is sited between a high-traffic road and another that provides vehicular access to the house. The architect’s solution effectively reversed the entry sequence. The studio elevation, with the master bedroom, dining room and terrace above, is now the formal front of the house, while the former front entrance from the busy road is now secondary.

Today, visitors arrive at the new primary entrance, greeted by a façade suggesting a simple folded ribbon: metal panels that wrap the expanded master bedroom and the new terrace. Recladding with fiber cement composite rainscreen (a choice inspired by the clients’ travels in Finland) unifies the addition with the existing. The new dining room enjoys views of Meadowlands sunsets through the 12-foot length of full-height glass and the cable rails of the new deck outside. The L-shaped artist studio/office downstairs now gains light from transom-height windows running the width of the house.