A 1950s Norman Jaffe Home Receives a Modern Update

Maintaining the architectural vision, the designer created a space for modern living.
Home Entrance

Photographs by Brittany Ambridge/Otto

Tampering with the work of another designer or architect mandates a measured hand. Especially one as famous as Norman Jaffe, whose sculptural beach houses made him the darling of the Hamptons in the last century.

Charged with renovating a 1950s Norman Jaffe residence in Greenwich, interior designer Anelle Gandelman took that notion to heart. “We weren’t doing a restoration but knowing where to draw the line on what to keep and what to update was a little intimidating,” admits the designer. “We wanted to be sure we didn’t ignore the architectural vision while still respecting the lifestyle needs of our clients.”

According to Gandelman, the homeowners, fell hard for the modern structure. “They were living in a traditional center hall Colonial, so their enthusiasm for this style of architecture was a little unexpected,” says the designer, who worked on their previous residence. But the bones and proportions proved irresistible. Especially with two daughters, the couple loved the tennis court, and indoor and outdoor pools.

The thoughtful renovation began with restructuring some of the existing spaces to create a more contemporary open concept. “In the original house, the living room and kitchen were separated by the formal dining room,” explains Gandelman. She decided to flip the kitchen and dining room, so the kitchen would open to the living room. The designer also swapped the existing stone floors for rift-cut white oak. “The original woodwork on the ceilings is a much warmer tone, so we went with a lighter gray on the floor so it didn’t feel like too much wood.”

In the living room and foyer, the textural juxtaposition creates a beautiful finish. The clean lines of the sectional counter the swoop of the bow window, and crisp edges of a concrete coffee table contrast the performance velvet on the sofa and a plush silk rug.

Sleek Kitchen Design

Photographs by Brittany Ambridge/Otto

Similarly, the dining room features chairs with decorative fabric backs and vinyl seats to soften the 12-foot-long ebony stained, wooden table. “Even though the design is contemporary, we made sure to incorporate lots of interesting textures and luxurious fabrics to prevent the interiors from feeling sterile,” says Gandelman.

Because the wife enjoys showing off her considerable culinary skills, a kitchen with adequate food prep and serving areas, and ample storage was a must. Warm gray-toned cabinetry that mimics wood by Leicht established the hard-working baseline. Among the amenities are two full-height cabinets on the fridge/freezer wall. The durable Neolith counters take a hot pot, and the expansive island does double duty as a buffet station. “She loves a clean aesthetic and here you can stow everything away and transition from cooking to entertaining with ease,” says Gandelman.

To add a bit of shimmer, the designer placed polished mirror pendants over the island. She says, “Lighting is a way to bring more materials into a space and provide a sculptural element.”

Grey Living Room Design

Photographs by Brittany Ambridge/Otto

Throughout the house, shades of gray dominate the neutral palette. “They came from a traditional house with lots of color and sought the complete opposite of that here,” Gandelman says.

The use of neutral tones along with the combination of textures and materials attained the goal of the remodel. As the designer notes, “It’s a decidedly contemporary house that respects the original architecture but is updated and personalized for the family who lives there today. It’s contemporary with a twist.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Honing a Masterpiece.
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