Deeds & Don'ts: Rennovated Properties
No matter their style, good architects design for the lives that are to be lived in the space. Put another way, a home is well designed only if it suits the lives of its owners—not the other way around. In keeping with the theme of this issue, here are places and spaces that have been beautifully designed or renovated by talented architects, designers or builders. But don’t take our word for it: With the fall real estate market underway, October is a great time to take advantage of weekends packed with open houses. We’ll see you there!
Contemporary homes are some of the more obviously “designed” dwellings. Unlike our area’s farmhouses, say, the modernist design ethic is often dramatic, even showy. Case in point: the Greenwich international-style home designed by German-born architect Ulrich Franzen, whose most famous commission was probably the Phillip Morris building in New York City. Franzen built widely in the area, including the Dana House in New Canaan, now on the market for $5.5 million. Both for-sale homes demonstrate the architect’s refusal to blend in with the prevailing aesthetic: They are starkly cool, uncompromisingly unadorned. Listed for $12.9 million, the Greenwich home was built in 1992, during the last decade of the architect’s life. At nearly 9,000 square feet, the geometric, all-white dwelling is softened by the sweet amenities it offers: an outdoor pool with a spa, a cabana and an outdoor kitchen; an indoor pool, a two-story atrium and a lighted tennis court. The home is listed with Fran Ehrlich of Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich.
Another striking contemporary was designed by Lakeville-based architects Demetriades + Walker in Washington. Constructed to meld with the environment, its stone-and-hardwood exteriors are made light and bright by walls of glass. The inside-out aesthetic is best enjoyed in the combined living/dining room, with soaring ceilings and a gas fireplace. The open-plan interiors also offer five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. On the 9.24 acres is a tree-lined driveway, meadows, woods, a pond and a guesthouse. It’s listed for $6,250,000 with Peter Klemm of Klemm Real Estate in Washington.
Structures designed as “live-work” are typically stripped-down artists’ lofts that look like studios but are zoned to live in as well. Another contemporary—this one at 9,600-square-feet in Easton—turns that idea on its head. It was designed for a consultant with four children who decided she needed to live in a space with workplace amenities—a three-story atrium, a banquet hall, office spaces—to have a shot at work/life balance. If all that sounds corporate, consider the master bedroom, with its stone hearth and two bathrooms, connected by a room with a Japanese soaking tub. There are five additional bedrooms and a total of 10 bathrooms. On the 9.3-acre property, there’s also a pool, hot tub, terraces and a recreation field. It’s listed with Laura Sydney-Pulton of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Southport for $1.84 million.
In stark contrast to Connecticut’s famed modern homes is our state’s collection of Colonials. Louise Brooks of the architecture firm Brooks & Falotico (and a 2014 CTC&G Innovation in Design Awards winner!) is a master of the classic, and not-so-classic, Colonial. She raised her family in a gracious New Canaan Colonial that she spent years renovating. Not far from that home is another Colonial that Brooks expanded for clients. The circa-1915, white-clapboard home, measuring more than 7,000 square feet, now includes six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. On 10 landscaped acres, the property also offers a swimming pool and terrace, a tennis court and a carriage house. It’s listed for $7.5 million with Anne Krieger of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in New Canaan.
Connecticut’s coastline has impacted our area’s design aesthetic since Colonists first sailed Long Island Sound—think of the widow’s walk atop captain’s homes and the stone-and-shingle “cottages” built to impress, even while they withstood high winds and winter storms. New to the market in Essex is the circa-1870 Croft mansion, a wedding cake of a place renovated by Frank Sciame, the builder who brought Katharine Hepburn’s coastal cottage back to life, located in nearby Fenwick (and now on the market for $18.4 million). As with the actress’ home, Sciame re-imagined this clapboard Victorian, while restoring its elaborately carved eaves, wraparound porches and original marble fireplace. Its best new feature is a third-floor skylight, which allows sunlight to illuminate the grand staircase and the entrance hall below. The kitchen is also new, featuring a Wolf stove, a Sub-Zero fridge and marble counters and expansive window with views over the Connecticut River and the Lyme hills. The home offers four bedrooms and five bathrooms and is listed for $2,950,000 by Colette Harron of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex.
You Say Potato
While there are parts of the world more famous for island homes (the Caribbean comes to mind), Connecticut has its share of private islands, especially along the Branford coastline. The Thimble Islands include whimsically named Money, Pot and Bear Islands. Potato Island, a 1.1-acre isle with a circa-1912 home, is on the market for $7,350,000. The 3,871-square-foot dwelling has three bedrooms and four bathrooms. Park-like grounds include a heated pool and a deep-water dock. It’s listed with Willard Finkle of Page Taft/Christie’s International Real Estate in Guilford, 203-453-6511, ext. 123.