On the Long Island Sound, A New Build Embraces Geometry

With an abundance of gables, strong lines run the show.
B 59031

A new house by Brooks & Falotico, with interiors by Marcia Tucker Interiors, is defined by its series of steep gables that appear to be drawn along the horizon. Photography by Ellen McDermott.

Not everyone likes geometry. It can be a challenging branch of mathematics. But for the design of a new house in Darien, the architects, interior designer and clients reveled in geometry lessons. As the wife recalls upon commissioning architect Louise Brooks and her firms’ colleagues, Chuck Willette, Vincent Falotico and Michael Benjamin: “I said to the team that I didn’t want rounded elements. I wanted an angular house, with strong lines.” The project’s interior designer, Marcia Tucker, also confirms that directive by saying, “She didn’t want anything too organic in form; she wanted structure, lines, angles. Geometry is what defines this house.”

Stute 10 2

In the living room, blue velvet chairs complement a wood and marble coffee table; the carpet is from L&M Custom Carpets and Rugs. Photography by Ellen McDermott.

Rivaling Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous house of seven gables for effect, this residence (with 10 gables, by the way) assumes a strong, shapely presence on its waterfront site. “The design for the house began with the premise that everyone’s bedroom was to have a water view,” says Brooks. “Also, something the client definitely didn’t want was in vogue three years ago—the ‘reinvented modern farmhouse.’”

What resulted is a wholly original structure anchored directly on Long Island Sound, its captivating rhythm of sharp-peaked gables etching across the horizon. When seen from the street, the roofs are punctuated by sober nine-pane windows, while a Tudor-style two-story window element fills one of the bays. “The windows at the front make a very graphic modern façade,” explains Brooks, “and another portion, which connotes a classic Saltbox, is also streamlined in its detail.”

One of the more surprising architectural moments of the house, though, is discovered at the rear, where the very identity of those gables transforms. Where windows are square and minimally articulated on the street façade, in back each gable opens up as an expansive glass wall, allowing for unimpeded views of Long Island Sound, with Manhattan shimmering in the distance. It’s as if the house has two distinct identities, front and rear.

When the client is asked, rhetorically, why she her husband chose this site and why they left behind their traditional center-hall Colonial, she says without hesitation, “The water.” Citing, too, that they had once owned a boat and still spend time with friends on their boats, she adds, “We knew how much we wanted to physically be on the Sound. My husband wanted the ability to go out the door and right to the water.”

Stute 06

In the family room, a Verellen sofa wears a Cowtan & Tout fabric; the coffee table is topped with leather from Garrett Leather; Soho Concept chairs surround a Roberta Schilling table. Photography by Ellen McDermott.

Tucker, who has worked with the client for 18 years on prior residences, emphasizes that her interior design “had everything to do with the distinctive architecture of the house” and its decided departure from the prior house the homeowners had occupied.

Despite raising their four children in the former house, the family dispensed with their furnishings when deciding to build this new home. “It wasn’t difficult to leave it all behind,” the client insists. “This was a home with far different spaces, and each of our children would now be getting their very own area.” Given the different scale and style of this house, as well as its open downstairs floorplan, Tucker responded to the geometry by bringing in L-shaped sofas, textured rugs with strongly articulated geometric forms, and shapely lighting fixtures. “There is so much organic shape outside on the Sound, so much surrounding nature,” Tucker emphasizes, “that we created interiors that were more grounded.”

B 59508

The walls of the kitchen in the pool cabana are papered with a Thibault Design’s pattern. Photography by Ellen McDermott.

Tucker also adhered to a consistently neutral palette to foster an overall harmony and sense of calm. “The pops of color that I introduce break up the rooms. Any accent color that we bring in—an orange in the mudroom, a navy blue in armchairs and a banquette—comes back in some way in another room.”

Brooks emphasizes, too, that the design plans were “driven by the views.” So aware are the homeowners of those glorious vistas, that they’ve become experts in Long Island Sound’s weather conditions.

B 59497

Harbour Outdoor chaises beckon at the pool; landscape and pool design are by Wesley Stout Associates. Photography by Ellen McDermott.

“It’s quite something to be inside and see waterspouts form on the Sound,” says the homeowner. “Every day what we see is different. Swells, rolling waves, white caps, or a surface that’s perfectly flat and still.” While both she and Tucker admit to needing to buy more paintings for the walls, the client says of the water, visible everywhere, “That’s our art.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Gabled + Gorgeous.