1601 Rydalmount Road (1999)


Although this gem of a Dutch colonial is eighty years old, it has about it an elegant and burnished look, from the original woodwork, which has never been painted, to the paisley wallpaper in the dining room and the engaging border of pigs, chickens and cows in the kitchen. During the five years the owners have lived here, they have incorporated changes that make unusually efficient use of space. Note, for instance, the book shelving over the windows in the solarium. Almost all of the work that has transformed this house has been done by the owners themselves.


There is throughout the house a strong sense of color, with touches of stained glass created by one of the owners. The walls of the stairway leading to the basement are covered with fabric and sewn with double welting. At the foot of the stairs is a full bath. It is hard to believe that it exists in the space that was originally a coal bin. (The door of the coal chute can still be seen on the outside of the house.) In this section the walls are covered in three different fabrics, all coordinated, all with double welting.


On the second floor, the "Mardi Gras room" - so designated by the owners -- is a riot of color in geometric shapes. The master bedroom is more subdued, with yellow walls, floral valances and elegant green-and-white striped fabric. In the office, a Chinese chest and mantel mix with contemporary furnishings.


The many attractions of the house are echoed in the lovely garden, which can be thoroughly enjoyed from comfortable chairs on the back porch. The owner has hand-chipped every stone on the curving borders of the garden. There are Oriental touches, with a Japanese lantern, a trellis in the shape of a kimono, and a weeping cherry tree with a twisting trunk. A huge apple tree that the owner believes may have been part of the original estate, still bears many apples. An Italian fountain provides the tranquil sound of water as well as a drinking spot for the neighbor's cat, who stretches up on tiptoe to quench its thirst.


Rydalmount is a street known for its neighborliness and creativity. A Gourmet Dinner Club is a 23-yearlong tradition, and for the City's 75th Anniversary Parade in 1996 the neighbors created a float that won first prize in the street association category. It was a full-size dining table set with a tempting assortment of outsize papier-maché foods. The prized trophy now serves as the centerpiece at each Gourmet Dinner. Into such an atmosphere, this house and garden fit with ease.