Open the front door to this 1827 Village townhouse (whose owners prefer to keep the address to themselves), and the first impression is of antiques, country, casual. But through the double-hung windows, you glimpse something much more modern across the garden: an eleven-by-twenty-foot conservatory framed in steel with a glass-block roof and oversize folding doors that has become “the most private and restful place in the house,” says its architect, Michael Haverland. The house is on a busy street and, because of its small windows and low ceilings, tends to be dark. Serene and light-filled, the greenhouse “sparkles and glows at night like a jewel box,” says Haverland. One that had to be built in a tight setting—grandfathered on the footprint of an existing toolshed. It’s given the owners impetus to leave the house’s back porch and make full use of their 51-foot-long yard. “It put energy at the back of the property,” Haverland says. “Now they go back and forth all the time.”
(1.) The Walls
The rough natural stucco on the walls is made from sand and concrete, and it is intended to crack and weather with age; the texture recalls the Peter Nadin painting off to the left.
(2.) The Folding Doors
They’re hung from a ceiling track and glide easily, despite their tremendous weight.
(3.) The Sofa
An Edward Wormley design, bought on eBay, it was upholstered in a nubby vintage Jack Lenor Larsen wool. The Paul McCobb stools are covered in ponyskin, and the rug is antique Caucasian, bought at ABC Carpet & Home.
(4.) The Patio
The bluestone flags connect the exterior to the interior, as do the walls.
The greenhouse, above, was based on the main house’s proportions, opposite. The garden was designed by Deborah Nevins.
Before the greenhouse was built, the owners spent most of their outdoor time on the porch, seen here from the new building’s vantage point. Now they use the whole space. Wegner teak rope-seat chairs flank a Fornasetti table.
Haverland studied traditional greenhouses, as well as Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet’s 1932 Maison de Verre in Paris, before designing the glass-block roof. The ceiling is both translucent and sturdy—early plans included a staircase that would have allowed the owners to walk on glass.
The Nadin painting inspired much of the décor. Its lush surface is made of burlap, beeswax, honeycomb, and linden berries, cultivated upstate by the artist. A leftover piece of stone from the garden paving made an impromptu base.
(1.) The Screen
The Eames screen, in undulating veneer, is from reGeneration. “The linen strips that join the panels match the stucco,” Galanes says, “so it looks like the thing is floating.”
(2.) The Tiered Stand
The drawers on this Dutch sewing basket, bought at DeLorenzo 1950, are among the few hits of color in the space.
(3.) The Chaise
The first piece Galanes bought was this Hans Wegner oak chaise. “There’s a lot of mid-century modern in there, but not hard mid-century,” he says. “This is all made of wood and leather.”
(4.) The Vents
Behind the chaise, Haverland and Galanes designed a wall of storage and HVAC in white-painted wood. The louvers at the top adjust to allow heat or air-conditioning into the space.