A Coastal Connecticut Home Highlights the Waterfront Views with Incredible Outdoor Spaces
Creating a sense of place in a historic coastal village.
Location plays such an important part for me when designing a home,” says Ellen Levinson of Ellen Levinson Design. “My design aesthetic changes with each project. I am currently working at one of the residences of the Four Seasons in Brickell, Miami. As you can imagine, Miami and Connecticut are worlds apart when it comes to design. I think it’s important that the home reflects where it is—and, of course, the people who are living there.”
The inspiration for this newly constructed coastal Connecticut home came from its location in a historic harborside village. For this project, Levinson turned to architect John Toates, who specializes in historical and traditional fundamentals, details and aesthetics. “We worked closely together, and he shared some unique sources,” says Levinson. “For example, the fireplace mantels and inserts in the living room and dining room are antiques that I selected from his contact. The windows in the house all have ‘wavy’ glass to mimic windows of homes built in the Greek Revival period, and the brick used on the outside of the house and on the walkways is antique.”
The family’s collection of antiques from the home they’d lived in for the previous 15 years were the perfect complement to the historic feel of the new house. “Then, to bring it into the 21st century, I married the antiques with more modern upholstery, lighting, art and accessories,” explains the designer. “Being on the water, I was drawn to a neutral palette with colors that stand on their own but don’t fight the beauty of the grounds that are visible from every window.”
Design challenges arose from the architectural constraints of certain rooms. For example, the sunroom is less than nine feet wide, so Levinson placed a large mirror over the fireplace that reflects the harbor outside when seated on the sofa. And in the living room, double French doors and flanking walk-through windows open onto the covered porch making furniture placement difficult. “But those walk-through windows are so cool,” says Levinson. “They also allow for a great indoor/outdoor feel when relaxing in the living room.”
Levinson tends to showcase a focal point in a room with other furnishings in supporting roles “while still being quietly beautiful in their own right.” In the living room, two Nancy Corzine chandeliers along with a Caio Fonseca painting take center stage. In the kitchen (layout, cabinetry and ceiling design by Toates), the polished nickel/stainless steel hood and the Lacanche stove command attention. “Although the kitchen is light in color, I wanted to create something less cookie-cutter, so one of the cabinets is made of black walnut and the TV sits on an antique dresser,” says Levinson. “As a foil to the brown marble kitchen counters, zinc was also used, and then again in the butler’s pantry and potting room.”
Just outside the kitchen door, the herb garden is regularly planted with the homeowners’ favorite herbs and lettuces. A certified landscape design consultant, Levinson designed all of the gardens at the property with the exception of the pollinator garden, which was a collaboration with William Kenny Associates. “These gardens were recently accepted into the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens,” notes Levinson.
The back of the house features a covered porch with rocking chairs, lounge chairs and a small table for two overlooking the harbor and neighboring yacht club, while the porch overlooks the lower-level flower/vegetable garden. To the side of the coastal Connecticut home, a pool is situated to be enjoyed easily with adjoining spaces for lounging and dining.
With the guidance of William Kenny Associates, Levinson selected plant material to create interest in all seasons for the pollinator garden. “Last year, I removed many of the grasses and replaced them with smaller, native flowers like coreopsis and coneflowers,” says Levinson. “The wildlife population has expanded, and the homeowners regularly see a variety of songbirds, butterflies and bees.
The print version of this article appears with the headline: Harborside Haven.
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