Inside a Recently Revitalized Greenwich Residence
Well-considered updates bring a beloved home into the present.
There was little doubt the upscale Greenwich builder home designed in 2001 had its shortcomings. Overzealous Greek Revival details like disproportionate corner pilasters on the outside entry and a dark north-facing kitchen with drab views of the driveway, among them. But after several meetings with the homeowners, a couple with two teenaged children, architect Tom McManus of Ferguson & Shamamian Architects realized that despite the structure’s idiosyncrasies, it was the couple’s emotional attachment to the house that played a major role in their decision to stay put and renovate. “They loved the house because it was where they raised their children, and family was very important to them,” he shares. “But they also wanted things like a bigger separate space in the kitchen to hang out and have breakfast, and amenities like a media room and a pool.”
Thanks to a quirky U-shaped lot backed by wetlands—the latter limiting the width of the house and room for expansion—the original design had no choice but to follow the bend of the site. To make room for a garage/family room addition, the homeowners purchased an adjoining lot and moved the property line. The new three-car garage—sheathed in vertical board and batten—was intentionally fashioned to resemble a carriage house and support an additive architecture narrative that it was part of a historic property.
McManus also simplified the exterior by replacing large pilasters with more modest quoins (stepped blocks) and remaking oversized cornice moldings in a more appropriate scale. Enclosing an outdoor porch on the front side allowed for a home office for the wife, and a screen porch on the back now provides a protected outdoor living room by the pool.
In keeping with the established storyline, the separate barn-style guest house further supports the notion of a historic property with several older structures. “We treated it as a utilitarian building that was converted,” says McManus, noting they worked with renowned colorist Donald Kaufman on determining the deep green hue for the board and batten exterior. “Dark green is a color sometimes found on old New England barns, and rather than being a big box on the hill, the color helps it recede into the landscape.”
Inside the main house, flipping the kitchen to the south side of the house where southern exposure and pleasing garden views improved the room’s overall experience was a game changer. When it came to things like selecting finishes and fleshing out cabinetry details—here and throughout the house—the architect joined forces with the design team of Thad Hayes and Emily Meroney of Ries Hayes, who encouraged covering all the kitchen walls in a shimmering white tile. “Now it looks like an English kitchen,” says Hayes, who along with Meroney brought in the majority of the furnishings, rugs, window treatments and decorative lighting. “Our role was to make sure the architecture was harmonious with the decoration.”
They also took on the task of integrating the homeowner’s contemporary art collection with the more traditional furnishings and trimmings. “What she [the wife] really wanted was an updated and more relevant home that had a curation of pieces steeped in history,” Hayes explains. In one of three sitting areas in the commodious living room, for example, the existing sofas reupholstered in deep gray cotton velvet balance the contemporary Lisa Yuskavage painting.
And in what can only be called a moment of yin-yang perfection, in the family room a modern artwork is matched with a classic wingback chair. “The clients enjoy upholstery shapes and styles that have a nod to the traditional, but they enjoy materials, art and objects that feel current,” he adds. “The mix of these elements is what creates that magic.”
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Greek Revitalized.