Step Inside a Period Home with a Contemporary Feel in Redding

A couple's Fairfield County residence strikes the perfect balance of classic and contemporary.
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A pair of 19th-century cast-iron urns through Aileen Minor Antiques flank the entrance to this Redding house that dates from 1773. Photograph by Hulya Kolabas.

Whenever they are inside their Redding home, Bill Miller and Paul Landy liken themselves to Goldilocks. Just as the heroine of the fairytale finds herself comfortable enough in the home of the three bears to wander the rooms, try out the furniture, eat a good meal, and then fall asleep in their bed, so, too, do Miller and Landy feel completely at home in their 1773 Colonial. “The house is not too big for us or too small,” says Miller, who has recently retired from his work as a private banker. “Goldilocks found everything to be just right for her, just as we do, though we had to work to get the house to feel perfect. It had been abused by its previous owners.”

One of the characteristics of centuries-old Connecticut residences that appeal to both men is the way that such houses overtly reveal their evolution. “When going through Fairfield County towns, you can often see what was the original house and what was added on to over time, as families grew and new owners came along,” says Miller. “I love that aspect of Connecticut life.” But with this house, a 1923 addition was so seamlessly added that it looks original. “The addition is exceedingly sympathetic to the rest of the house,” Miller emphasizes.

Miller admits to being a natural born collector, though he insists after having lived with Landy for some 20 years that his husband, too, possesses the inclination to accumulate good things, “though Paul might deny that.” But as creative director of retail for New York’s Neue Galerie, Landy is used to purchasing fine objects and displaying them in ways that get them noticed. In assessing their home collections, though, comprised of such things as 18th-century engraved scenes of ancient Greece, Noh masks, Wedgwood basalt ware, Sicilian porcelain plates, Grand Tour depictions of an erupting Vesuvius, and vintage deer heads, Miller claims that he revels in symmetrical groupings, while Landy better understands placement. “I’m a neoclassicist at heart,” Miller claims, “which means I’m all about balance and symmetry— and that can get boring, whereas Paul understands the interest that comes with asymmetry. He has a certain way with displaying things, a real knack.”

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What they agree on—and both adhere to—is maintaining a careful balance between collecting and cluttering. “We do understand that differentiation,” says Miller. Despite what might at first glance seem a plethora of fine objects and furnishings, artworks and accessories, no room feels overwhelmed by things. Because of the couple’s uncanny skill at placing goods in a room, every object stands out on its own. “If you’re not careful, you could wind up like Citizen Kane,” says Miller, referencing the Orson Welles character who amasses so many things he has trouble finding any one of them.

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A rustic table in the kitchen serves as an additional dining area, its surface lit from above by a Civil War–era chandelier. Photograph by Hulya Kolabas.

Indeed, as a way to further emphasize the objects and furnishings they own, the couple has kept the walls saturated with colors—deep greens, jewel-like reds, Colonial blues. While their paint hues were chosen from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Colors series, what appears in their rooms is actually authentic and original to the house. As Landy and Miller explain, when they first began the renovation of the house in 2018, they removed all of the uninspiring wallpaper, beneath which were found the house’s original paint colors, many of which they attempted to replicate. The deep tones work to highlight every object.

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An RH mirrored cabinet in the primary bathroom replicates the look of a 1930s-era medicine cabinet. Photograph by Hulya Kolabas.

“I’m also a bit of a magpie,” says Miller, referencing the less-than-shy bird that likes to admire itself in mirrored surfaces. Throughout their rooms, Miller and Landy have added touches of gold and gilt, notably for the way they play on rosewood and mahogany furniture surfaces. “Colonial houses were dark,” says Miller, “and candles helped reflect the gold on furniture and objects, throwing light around a room. And the more polished a surface, the greater the reflections. Gilding brightens things up.”

While their period house is now filled with period items of many eras, nothing feels dated. As Miller explains, “We feel done with our collecting, and so we like to characterize our house now as being contemporary but with a classical feel.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Cool & Collected.