CHATHAM_valle_02 The first time that we worked with Katz Novoa Architects & Planners we had small children and needed more space in our home in Summit. Ileana and Jon listened attentively to our wishes and needs and transformed our small ranch into a modern, functional, bright, living space, where our children could play and grow and where we could entertain both in and out doors.

Six years later we moved to a larger home in the neighboring town of Chatham. Ileana and Jon helped us gut and renovate an old Colonial home in dire need of fixing. They delivered a timeless, elegant and classic design which, not only met all our needs but by far exceeded our wishes, and which fifteen years later still looks new and up-to-date.

When our children went to college, we decided to downsize and, once again, called Ileana and Jon to help us renovate our latest acquisition, a smaller rundown Colonial in the same neighborhood in Chatham. Considering the stage of our lives and the state of the markets Ileana and Jon came up with a beautiful but practical and very marketable design, while helping us stay on track with the budget and focused on the concept of “less-is-more.” Two years after we moved in, we sold our home in a very difficult market for full asking price, to the first couple that saw it, the day before it hit the MLS. We are convinced that Ileana and Jon’s excellent design sold our home.

After purchasing our latest abode – a 20+ year old townhouse, also in Chatham – we had second thoughts about our ability to make it into a livable home. So we called on Ileana and Jon to help us transform our space. Once again, they utilized every possible square inch of every room to deliver a comfortable, functional and contemporary design that we love and that fits our new lifestyle.

Our collaboration with Ileana and Jon over twenty plus years has been easy and beneficial for us in many ways. They have created beautiful spaces for our family to enjoy and, during each project, have assisted us with important issues such as prioritizing and staying in budget, each time helping us increase the value of our homes. Ileana and Jon work very well as a team, and have great relationships with contractors, and other professionals to create beautiful, functional and timeless home designs. They also have good relationships with town engineers and inspectors, and visit the site often to ensure construction follows architectural plans. We wholeheartedly recommend Katz Novoa Architects & Planners as excellent designers and professionals.

M. Valle


Four years after working with us on an extensive renovation of their home, the Clients called us to discuss a new project: a house on a 24 acre plot of land two miles away. The Clients had a tentative agenda for the house, and wanted to determine if the property was suitable for the project, and whether they should renovate and expand an existing structure on the site, or build new.
We helped the Clients to hone the program for the house – this made it evident that renovating was impractical and uneconomical, and that they should build “from scratch.” We also prepared rough schematic sketches illustrating the general layout of the plans and the optimal location for the new structure on the lot.
Water features and vegetation on the property, as well as the property’s topography, orientation, proportions and views proved to be charming and inspiring, but also quite challenging: They presented the need for approvals from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Conservation and a variance from the Mendham Zoning Board of Appeals.
After months of coordination with environmental consultants and site engineers we helped the Clients to obtain the required permits and variances. Following, were weeks of continuous dialogue and collaboration between Architects and Clients during which we finalized the details for the design of the Clients’ dream home, a stately Colonial English Manor.
The house is clad in Pennsylvania stone, has slate roofs, copper gutters and leaders, and lavish interior finishes. The plans comprise formal Living and Dining Rooms; a wonderful Country Kitchen with Butler’s Pantry and Breakfast Room; a glassed-in breezeway along the rear of the house that offers views of the rolling Somerset Hills beyond; six Bedroom Suites, each with private Bath; Wine Cellar, Media and Billiard Rooms, and a Shower Room with sauna and whirlpool on the lower level; eleven fireplaces; eight garage bays for father and son to work on and store their vintage car collection; and an apartment over the garages.
Despite the substantial size of the structure, the house was built with energy efficiency in mind, and incorporates the highest R-value insulation available, low-E, argon-filled insulating windows and patio doors, a geothermal HVAC system, and energy-efficient appliances.
We are often asked what leads to the best designs. One of the most important recipes for a successful design is a vigorous and open collaboration between Architects and Clients; we invariably think of this project, where we enjoyed a wonderful partnership with our Clients, from day one.


RYE_03The Clients commissioned us to design an Indoor Swimming Pool addition for their home after seeing one of projects featured in a special issue magazine entitled “Before and After.” Their Expanded Ranch style home sits on a beautiful two-acre lot overlooking the Long Island Sound, in Rye, New York. Both Clients, health-conscious, avid year-round swimmers, were beginning to spend more time at their house in the country than in their Park Avenue apartment; they wanted the convenience of a vigorous morning swim without having to travel to the local swimming facility.

The first of two primary design considerations was to create an addition that looked as if it had always been part of the house: Thus, the new Pool Room’s street façade was designed to mirror that of the existing two-car garage in detailing, massing and proportions, and all the exterior materials were specified to exactly match the existing. Furthermore, the addition was planned to extend toward the front of the property in perfect alignment with the garage wing, so as to form a U-shaped courtyard that welcomes the home’s visitors.

The second design priority was to take advantage of the magnificent views of the Sound that forms the rear edge of the property: Thus, the Swimming Pool Room culminates in a glassed-in semicircular space with uninterrupted views of the water beyond. Convenient access to the house was also very important, so the Pool Room is connected to the main house and master bedroom suite through a new hallway that includes a Shower Room, Sauna and Bar Area.

Thoughtful, careful design accomplished all of the Clients’ goals for their project: It yielded an addition that sits in perfect harmony with the structure to which it was appended; it was built within the Clients’ budget goals; and most importantly, it provided the Clients with a convenient, private and well designed structure where their daily exercise routine became a blissful experience enhanced by the lovely views of the Long Island Sound at sunrise.

We are commonly asked how we gage a project’s success. Clearly, there are many ways to evaluate the success of a project, but to us one of the best measures of a winning project is the extent to which it positively affects the quality of life of its users; invariably, we reflect on this project which, in the Clients’ own words “… enriched and changed (their) lives.”


LIVINGSTON_funt_02The Clients first came to us when they lived a few blocks from their present home. Their “wish list” for their project made it evident that their ideal style for a home was “Colonial” design; a series of schematic sketches to translate their thoughts into paper made it clear that transforming their “Split Level” into a Colonial would cost more than it was worth the money or the effort. Thus, we recommended either revising the focus of their project, or moving. About a year later the Clients called us again to help them renovate the Colonial house that they had just purchased.
A new house meant a new program, a more extensive scope of work. During the Preliminary Design Phase our costing analysis indicated that the proposed work would exceed their target budget. We recommended two options: going back to the drawing board to simplify the scale of the project, or building the project in two phases. To avoid compromising their “wish list” the Clients opted for the two-phase alternative, and thus was their project built. The winning outcome is the product of successful Architect-Client teamwork and communication, and has everything that the Clients wanted in their dream home, including her perfect Kitchen, his own third Garage Bay, a large, beautiful Family Room, a spectacular Master Suite, “His” and “Hers” W.C.s, and everything in between.
One of the most significant “value-added” aspects of our services is our expertise in helping our Clients to “decode” their visions for a project, to translate their “wish lists” into logical, realistic solutions that make sense from practical, budgetary and construction points of view. The earlier in the process that a Client retains our services, the sooner that we can facilitate the arrival at a successful plan.


The Clients hired us after seeing one of our projects featured in an article in the Sunday Star Ledger; they asked us to design and build a total renovation for their home which included the addition of an indoor swimming pool. Having just completed Architectural and Construction Management Services for a similar project gave us invaluable experience to create an efficient and beautiful structure.

Environmental and Humidity control are among the most crucial issues when designing an indoor pool. High levels of relative humidity promote corrosion of the building and, in severe cases, can lead to structural failure. High humidity also encourages the growth of mold, bacteria and viruses all of which can cause adverse health effects. An indoor pool must have a dedicated Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, the space must be segregated from the rest of the house and should be under negative pressure to assure that the moist air does not migrate into the house. Adequate control of water and ambient air temperatures yields thermal comfort and results in more efficient energy use. In our Montclair project we accomplished a high level of environmental control by speciying:

  • Appropriate Polyethelene vapor barriers lapped, taped and sealed at all penetrations
  • Cementitious board with vapor barrier primer
  • Plaster to finish the walls and ceiling
  • The highest value of Insulation to minimize condensation and enhance energy efficiency
  • A packaged HVAC system to manage humidity levels, heat the pool water with recycled energy, provide air conditioning for year-round comfort control, and contribute to efficient space heating.

Placement of Windows and Diffusers is another critical consideration in the design of an indoor pool. Condensation forms on cold exterior glass surfaces like windows and skylights and, in order to control condensation, these surfaces must be suffused with dehumidified air. This can be particularly challenging in the case of skylights since they are generally located up in the ceiling where moist warm air accumulates and are difficult to reach with dehumidified air without extensive expensive ducting. In Montclair, although we made extensive use of glass to maximize the views and to create the illusion of swimming among the gardens, we controlled condensation and increased energy efficiency by using high-efficiency thermal insulating units, and specifying diffusers to be placed in front of each unit to adequately “bathe” the glass with dehumidified air.

A Spacious Mechanical Room and Accessibility to Mechanical Equipment are the next crucial aspects of indoor pool design. Adequate space and accessibility are at the heart of the system, and skimping on space can cause a multitude of problems from difficulty in servicing to operating inefficiencies. In Montclair, we took advantage of the slope of the grade and created an ample underground mechanical room with easy access from the outside. The mechanical room is located underneath the sitting alcove that serves as anteroom to the swimming pool, and provides a sizeable accommodation for all the mechanical equipment. Furthermore, unlike typical swimming pools, we designed this pool as a self-supporting concrete shell with crawl space around all four sides; this created access to the ductwork and wiring and eliminated potential problems in case of a future failure in a pipe.

A Pool Cover was another important feature that we incorporated into the Montclair pool design (, The use of a well designed pool cover contributes to the efficient operation of the environmental control system by lowering humidity, and by reducing the amount of evaporation which causes 70% of pool water heat loss. Additionally, a pool cover helps to keep the pool clean while it is not in use and, very importantly, it serves as a safety device.