Modern Views

For a fashion industry insider, this lakefront home in Stamford inspired a shifting of tastes from traditional to serene, sleek and minimal



Roughly nine years ago, when a broker described this circa 1965 Modern on a wooded parcel in North Stamford to its current owners, she called it “odd.”

Odd, she said, because although an architect had designed it with super clean lines and minimal adornments, a subsequent owner had come along and, you could say, “added a little character.” Longing for a Colonial, he or she had redesigned the kitchen in a country French motif, added crown moldings where they were never intended, and installed floral-pattern hardware in a bathroom painted an unflattering peach.

At the time, her clients weren’t interested. They had been clear that they were in the market for an old house. One of the homeowners, in fact, had just restored with meticulous attention a 1734 saltbox in Fairfield. (The furnishings were so period-correct that the buyer he sold it to bought everything in it, including the candlesticks.)

But toward the end of their appointment with the realtor, as house after house in the day’s lineup failed to pique their interest, they agreed to take a look, begrudgingly.

“I walked in, saw the view, and made an immediate offer,” says the homeowner. The view that sold him was a sweeping vista of a sizable private lake, framed in latticed windows of single-paned 1960s glass. “It was too magical to pass up.”

Situated under a leafy canopy, the house appears to float on the edge of a cliff, a box of light through which you can see the greenery of the nature preserve on the other side. It is a tree house from which one can descend down a meandering footpath bordered by ferns, raspberry bushes, and other deer-enticing plants, to a dock at the lake’s edge. (The dock, which features two lounge chairs and an idling canoe, is where, a bit more than a year ago, the homeowners tied the knot and became husband and husband.)

 

For three years they lived here, saving up for an interior renovation that would return the house nearly to its original design. One of the homeowners says he had fallen in love with the work of Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra on a visit to Palm Springs and that that experience informed his approach.

Six years ago, they were ready to begin the project, working directly with general contractor Bob Carlson, the principal of Carlson Construction, to oversee four principal changes: tearing down the wall that separated the kitchen from the living and dining areas, hijacking the third bedroom in order to create a dressing room adjacent to the master bedroom that was fit for a fashionable king (or two), opening up the fireplace on the kitchen side, and replacing the checkerboard of windows with large sheets of thermal-paned glass.

Now, when I turn on the heat,” quips the homeowner, “I’m not heating the neighborhood.”

The natural beauty of the three-and-a-half acre site—from which you cannot see another home—mandated that the restoration incorporate the outdoors into the indoors and vice versa. In other words, the transition between the two had to be seamless.

That mandate first focused on the entry into the house. Upon stepping over the threshold, visitors found themselves immediately in the living space, without the benefit of a vestibule for hanging a coat or stashing a dripping umbrella. The owners decided to make up for this shortcoming by transforming the courtyard into an outdoor foyer of sorts, planting birch trees with papery thin bark in a forest floor covered in loose river rock, each stone polished to the roundness of thick pancakes. A bluestone path laid in the river rock leads to the front door.

To design the interiors, they worked with interior designer Mar Silver of Westport. Together they chose a muted palette—taupes, beiges, shimmering silvers, and dark wood—that would not distract from the landscape outside.

They finished the hearth, mantel and fireplace surround in a masculine Lagos azul. In the kitchen, country French gave way to Italian contemporary: dark walnut cabinetry by Boffi that conceals not only the hood above the range, but also the refrigerator.

“Because the kitchen is visible to the rest of the living room, we wanted it to look like furniture, like an armoire,” explains the homeowner. “And if I’m in there cooking, I want to be able to enjoy the company.”

With their spare but well-placed furnishings and décor—massive matching sofas and a square coffee table from Holly Hunt; a wall-mounted sideboard from Design Within Reach that seems to levitate; tiny flutes affixed to exposed ceiling beams to soften the hard lines in the tradition of feng shui; mesmerizing landscapes they found off the Place des Vosges in Paris—the interiors suggest the hand of a skilled visual editor.

“It’s the antithesis of knickknacks,” says the homeowner.

 

So it’s no surprise that this traditionalist reborn as a modernist, a third-generation retailer whose family’s men’s and women’s apparel shop got its start in Westport, has honed his touch for marketing and merchandising by editing the collections on the sales floor. (The chain has now gone bicoastal.)

The master bath offers some of the same visual treats as the living and dining areas. The view of the lake is framed in a window just above a deep tub, and a stall shower with a frameless glass enclosure adds an industrial punch: side-by-side showerheads whose roughing is encased in fat, freestanding steel pipes that rise directly out of the floor. Designed by Boffi, each features a pop of color: a whimsical red handle for temperature regulation.

Silver, who had a previous passion for eighteenth and nineteenth century furniture and who helped the homeowner decorate his saltbox, says: “As creative people move through their lives, their world opens up a little bit more, and they feel like doing something different.”

Working together was a “real collaboration,” she says. “The space is so soft, there’s nothing arresting to the eye.”

Says the homeowner: “We like to call it Serenity Lake.”                                                             

Stamford Agenda

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • OPEN STUDIOS 2014

    2014.10.24

    LOFT ARTISTS ASSOCIATION WELCOMES the PUBLIC to its 36th ANNUAL Open Studios EVENT Friday October 24 - 6 to 9 PM Saturday October 25 -...

  • Crawl-o-Ween

    2014.10.24

    Free costume pub crawl with check in at the Holiday Inn 1070 Main Street, Bridgeport and visiting the Bijou Square Neighborhood, then ending a...

  • Getting Into Work- An Improv performance by Sea Tea

    2014.10.24

    Adults have been asking you since first grade what you want to be when you grow up. Just because you're a teenager doesn't mean work...

  • ASTRONOMY NIGHTS: Pluto: The Battle for a Planet

    2014.10.24

    Head to the Observatory to explore the night sky, planets, stars, and more! Start by learning about Pluto, followed by a visit to view the night...

  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Slithery, Slimy, Creepy, Crawly

    2014.10.24

    Celebrate Halloween a little early! Meet some of our live scaly and crawly friends. Touch Connecticut's longest snake, meet a tarantula up...

  • Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano

    2014.10.24

    Songbook Cabaret Series  Upstage @ The Palace Multi-award winners for their recordings and performances, jazz artists Eric Comstock and...

  • Tales of Horror and Death

    2014.10.24

    One Night Only—REAL Halloween Terror! Experience Halloween colonial style this October with a chilling tour of an authentic site...

  • JCC Sara Walker Nursery School Registration

    2014.08.11

    Registration for the 2014/15 school Our Nursery School programs are designed to help children learn in an interactive and playful way while...

  • Neshama Yoga

    2014.09.12

    Fridays Sept. 12 – Dec. 19 (No class Sept. 26, Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Nov. 28), 9 – 10:30 am Neshama Yoga is a fusion of Kundalini...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • The Way We Worked

    2014.09.20

    September 20 through November 4, 9am – 5pm The Way We Worked is a fun and nostalgic look back at the history of working people in...

  • NFL Specials

    2014.09.17

    Are you ready to spend Football Sunday and Mondays with us at the Whale? Join us for $4 Bud Light Drafts, $8 Signature Bloody Mary’s and...

  • College Football Specials

    2014.09.17

    Calling all College Football fans! Watch your favorite college football team score a touchdown at Sign of the Whale. Drink specials include $4...

  • FAll 2014 Semester beginning - Ballet School of Stamford

    2014.09.15

    Our Fall semester begins on September 15th in our beautiful studios at Old Town Hall in Stamford. We offer classes for children age 3 to 18. Our...

  • Stamford Museum & Nature Center Facility Use

    2014.09.01

    September 1 – December 31, After 5pm For a truly unique and memorable venue, host your event or meeting on the picturesque 118-acre...

  • The Food Network Open Casting Call for Home Cooks

    2014.10.25

    FOOD NETWORK’S TOP CELEBRITY CHEFS ARE SCOURING THE NATION IN SEARCH OF AMAZING HOME COOKS! You’ve watched them on TV, bought their...

  • French Market (Farmers’ Market)

    2014.06.14

    Visit our farmers’ market with vendors offering the freshest fruits, vegetables, flowers, baked goods and more! Straight from the farm and...

  • Jewish Arts & Film Festival of Fairfield County

    2014.10.25

    Saturday, October 25 – Sunday, November 2 Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 25 through Sunday, November 2 for the 13th season of the...

  • Ick Fest @ Overbrook

    2014.10.26

    Celebrate all things creepy and crawly at our annual "Ick Fest @ Overbrook." After Trick-or-Treating on the Farm, visit the Overbrook...


Show More...

Most Popular Articles

  1. Top 8 Beach Essentials
    Suit up and accessorize in style
  2. 10 Things To Do Before Summer Ends
    Finish up your summer bucket list!
  3. Stamford Magazine's 5th Anniversary Party
    Bank Street Events
  4. 5 Bars Off Bedford
    Your guide to hole-in-the-wall taverns and pubs scattered around Stamford
  5. 12 Great Date Nights
    Restaurants for a romantic night