Mary Stone Reimagines a Historic Home Overlooking Long Island Sound
Whenever Mary Stone is at her century-old home on the peninsula of Old Black Point, she feels blue. But for her, feeling blue has a different meaning. “I love old blue paint, I love indigo, I love any shade of blue that reminds me of the water,” she says. From virtually every room of her house, the wide expanse of Long Island Sound, often complemented in the summer with a blue sky, is in full view. So, when Stone and her family—which includes her husband and three 20-something children-—are there, they are happy.
For years, the Stones had been searching for a weekend waterfront home apart from their full-time residence in Windsor. When this 1911 house, designed by architect James Gamble Rogers, famous for his Gothic-Revival buildings at Yale and other universities, came on the market, they recognized it immediately as the right one for them. In 1997, the family moved into the six-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot residence with its 300 feet of direct beach access. “This has always been a place in which we feel comfortable,” says Stone, who did the interior design. “And I have continued to make every room feel welcoming, easy, without any worries of putting your feet up on a piece of furniture.”
The prevailing palette Stone chose is a muted one of beiges, off-whites and occasional pale blues. “A neutral color scheme allows you to add pops of color where and when you want,” she notes. “Plus, the colors outside—of the Sound, pool, garden foliage—are the ones I want to focus on. I’m content to look outdoors to find color.”
A typical of a house of this vintage, much of the floor plan is an open one. From the kitchen, for instance, a view can be had of the entire expanse of the house. The previous owners had knocked down walls to create an overall openness, with rooms melding almost loft-like. While the Stones liked this effect, they wanted to create a certain intimacy that was lacking. “We added walnut archways on the first floor, to soften the big space,” says Stone. “The archways break it up, so it’s not so much like a giant bowling alley. We made them dark because all else was white, and we had them rounded because everything else about the house is so angular.”
Perhaps the family’s favorite room is the kitchen—or, at least, one of the kitchens. The family kitchen, the one in which they cook, features an inviting window bench and ample island. The other kitchen, referred to as the caterer’s kitchen in a nod to its use for parties, is more of a transition space in the house. But to encourage family use there, Stone had a game table built where her children would often gather when they were younger.
Another unconventional moment occurs on the second floor. There, in the geographic heart of the house, is an area that functions as a central gathering space and features a daybed should anyone wish to dwell there. Other bedrooms are left deliberately spare, though not austere. “I try hard to keep things at a minimum,” says Stone, “just so people don’t feel overwhelmed by stuff. It’s very soothing to the eye to not have so much out.”
Perhaps the biggest interior transformation occurred in what was once an uninviting attic. Stone added a new staircase, painted white and trimmed in beech, leading to what has become a series of bright, airy spaces, including a media room, wine tasting room, and guest bedrooms with access to an outdoor terrace.
“Unlike most houses where some of the rooms are just not used,” says Stone, “in ours, every space has a function and a use—top to bottom, every nook and cranny. It’s a house that’s well loved and well used.”
A version of this article appeared in the June 2014 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Sea Change.
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