The 19th-century home that once occupied this rocky perch was neat and well-proportioned. But somewhere along the way it lost its identity through a series of ill-conceived additions.

Centerbrook Architects’ first order of business was to figure out what could be salvaged from the original. A meticulous restoration of the street-side elevation helped reconnect the house to its modest roots, but behind that façade, the original timber frame and rubble foundation had to be completely rebuilt. Sensitively placed appendages to the rear are now invisible from the street. A barn-like garage tucked into an adjacent hillside works in tandem with a natural rock outcropping to define a new entry courtyard.

Out back, the house spreads out and follows the shoreline, giving every room a view of the river. Broad hallways on the first and second floors serve as gallery spaces for the owners’ art collection, and the interiors maintain some quaint touches. The painted wood kitchen cabinet doors are thru-routed with a vertical pattern to resemble antique vented cupboards; and the ceiling in the master bedroom is curved and clad in clapboard—a clever turn that evokes the feel of a wooden boat hull with its keel disguising the air diffusers.

Category: Whole-house makeover or significant addition
Entrant/Architect: Centerbrook Architects and Planners, Centerbrook, Conn.
Builder: Tiezzi Construction, Chester, Conn.
Landscape architect: Anne Penniman Associates, Essex, Conn.
Interior designer: Harris Design, Wilton, Conn.