A Beinfield-designed Rowayton home becomes a collector’s treasure chest
Patrick Mele is an expert at curating and was able to effortlessly blend fabrics, patterns and personal collections to create a friend’s perfect new home.
Designer Patrick Mele KNEW it would be a challenge to move his friend from her home in Rye, where she’d lived for more than 21 years, to her new Rowayton cottage. The homeowner had worked and lived abroad and had collected antiques and furniture along the way. However, after many years of styling for Ralph Lauren, Mele is an expert at curating, and was able to effortlessly blend fabrics, patterns and personal collections to create her perfect new home.
While the Rye house was on the market, the homeowner looked at apartments in New York City, townhouses in Greenwich and beachside cottages in Rowayton. “I was looking for a sanctuary,” she says, “a peaceful oasis with character where I could entertain casually and provide a comfortable home for my girls.” When a home designed by architect Bruce Beinfield came on the market, she knew immediately this was the house for her.
Although the charming Colonial was relatively new, Mele and his client decided to make some small structural changes before the real decorating could begin. The home was rewired with new lighting, and a digital sound system was installed, a priority for his client who loves to sing. A living-room fireplace was replaced with a custom mantleless hearth of honed black Nero Marquina marble, “in order to create more wall space to accommodate one of the owner’s many paintings,” explains Mele.
In the family room and kitchen, a narrow doorway that led into the living room was closed off to accommodate floor-to-ceiling bookcases flanking an existing fireplace. “Then I topped the bookcases with oiled-bronze lights from The Urban Electric Co.,” notes the designer. Upstairs, the master bedroom was given a new closet to showcase accessories collected around the world. “We created a space that reflected my client’s well-traveled life,” says Mele.
Once these changes were made, they were ready to combine furnishings, collections and paintings. First, Mele framed 25 separate prints of a Plan de Paris and hung them on the large wall at the top of the staircase as a nod to his client’s love of Paris. Next, the powder room was painted in Farrow & Ball Pelt, the homeowner’s favorite color, and a series of black and white French fountain plates were hung on the wall alongside a Juan Bastos portrait of the homeowner. A small antique washbasin was found in a garden sale in Bedford, NY, and a French trumeau mirror was purchased at Leonce Antiques in Westport.
In the dining room, Ralph Lauren black-and-white cotton ticking was added to the owner’s original George I mahogany chairs. And the base of a Belgian bluestone table was stained a rich dark brown. Two sideboard tables from the Patrick Mele furniture collection and mirrors with a Greek key motif complete the room. New French doors open the kitchen onto a courtyard with a fountain and an outdoor fireplace. A custom chandelier hangs above the kitchen island, topped with honed Arabescato Orobico marble. Throughout the house, trim and windows were painted in Farrow & Ball London Stone. “I left the natural plaster walls in an effort to reinforce the historic quality of the architecture,” notes Mele.
Upstairs, some of the owner’s existing furniture was used in each room. “I wanted to give the bedrooms a sense of family history,” says Mele. He re-covered chairs and reframed existing prints while adding new bedding and throws. The master bedroom has a bed designed with Mark Alexander silk and bronze nail heads. Hinson sconces and a Michael Taylor floor lamp were added along with an antique black crucifix from the owner’s collection.
The end result is a fresh yet familiar home that heralds a new chapter in the owner’s life, but contains plenty of reminders from the past to envelop her family in warm and cherished memories.