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The Timber Accent Remodel in the New York Finger Lakes

Timber accents transform a dated home in the New York Finger Lakes region

Written by Stacy Durr Albert
Photography by Scott Hemenway
The Timber Accent Remodel in the New York Finger Lakes


Buying a brand new timber frame home isn’t an option for everybody. There’s a host of reasons for this. Maybe the location of your current home is too good to give up. Perhaps you can’t bear the thought of leaving behind a lifetime of family memories or, more pragmatically, you’ve paid off your current mortgage and the thought of taking on a new one makes you go a little pale.

Good news: You don’t have to tear down your existing home to get the timber-frame look. Need proof? Just check out the before and after photos of this striking stick-frame home, which was given a new lease on life thanks to a bevy of strategic timber accents.

“We loved our home and its lake location, but it was dated and needed to change,” explains homeowner Vern Sessler. “We wanted something that would be timeless, and a timber frame was just that.”

Built in 1991, the original structure was in dire need of new siding, windows and a roof, but the owners truly loved the overall function of the house and its many great features, such as the porte cochere and a bridge connecting the upstairs bedrooms.
 
“We hired New Energy Works to design an exterior freshen-up of our house with some timber accents, and the project quickly evolved into a full-blown remodel,” says Vern.

A new four-car garage and breezeway transformed the exterior, along with new siding, windows, dramatic truss work and several covered porches. Bold timber elements created a new identity for the home.
 
 
“The challenge with updating an existing home is deciding what to hold on to and what to let go of,” explains Ty Allen, AIA, design-build manager at New Energy Works Timberframing in Farmville, New York. “It’s all about achieving balance.”

A quick look at the Sessler home reveals that the couple found a way to seamlessly merge the best of the old with the new. “An older home with good bones is perfect for this type of remodel,” says Ty. “You basically have a blank canvas, which you can use to your advantage.”

The project all started with a timber-framed boat shelter on the property, fueling the owners’ passion for the style. Timber elements were then incorporated in porches, overhangs and interior areas. “The couple was drawn to the heft and strength of timber,” recalls Ty. “They felt a connection with the quality it implies, and they realized it was perfect for a lakeside setting.”
 
 
Incorporating the other timber elements into the existing home proved easier than expected. Eye-catching timber trusses were added over covered porches and the existing porte cochere. The original one-car garage was transformed into a sunroom and side entry that serves as a connector for the new four-car garage addition. Inside, a timber bent was added to make the interior feel like a continuation of the exterior.

“It flows perfectly,” says Vern. “The covered porches and fireplaces feel like they have always been there. It truly is seamless.”

The addition of timber has given the home new character. “The timber elements allowed us to create a vision, and to emphasize the strong lines of the home,” says Ty. “Any time we can take an existing building and transform it without knocking it down is a good thing for our client and the environment.”

For the Sesslers, it’s a good thing all around — they love their location, not to mention the home’s sense of family history. “The house had 27 years of great memories of raising our family, and to us and our sons, this is home,” shares Vern. “Every day when we turn into our driveway, a smile comes across our faces. We love this place.”
 

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