Step Inside a Striking Connecticut Lake House

Subtle splashes of color, midcentury touches, and playful patterns fill a lakefront home.
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In the living room, a custom sofa features Maharam fabrics. Marble for the coffee table is from Artistic Tile, and the Julian Chichester chairs are a midcentury-modern touch. The rug is through Sacco Carpet. Photograph by Marco Ricca.

Despite a career that began with studying interior design in South Carolina and followed by a move to New York City— where she eventually opened her own interior design studio—Catalina Castaño has never lost sight of her Colombian roots. “I grew up in a playful, colorful country,” she shares. “My background figures into all of my designs but always mingled with my client’s ideas.” So, when a couple with two grown children and a penchant for midcentury modern approached her to work with them on their Litchfield County residence, Castaño responded by crafting interiors that honored the homeowners’ style while bringing her own signature vibrancy to the mix.

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A custom banquette wears durable Perennials fabric, and the metal tables are from Blu Dot. Photograph by Marco Ricca.

The residence in question—a contemporary structure on a tight sloping lot—was designed by architectural designer Harold Tittman as an “upside down house.” “The structure is sandwiched between two roads with the main entrance and living spaces on the same level as the upper road,” explains Tittman, who notes, from there it’s down one flight to the bedrooms followed by the final descent to the media room and gym. “The boat house is on the other side of the lower road,” he adds.

To maximize the incomparable lake vistas, the house is intentionally long and narrow, and even the mudroom has a view. “Windows are a trademark in my architecture, and I made sure each room got extra-large openings,” Tittman says. The strategically placed fenestration framing up the sparkling blue water and the surrounding greenery, all but guarantees a “wow” followed by a sigh from all who enter.

Taking her cues from the environment, Castaño began in the living room by introducing a commodious two-piece wool and mohair sofa in a deep shade of green. “It reminds me of the trees,” says the designer, who added a marble coffee table with a walnut base. “It looks like it’s floating,” she says about the additional nod to nature. A pair of wood-frame midcentury modern chairs sporting geometric Hermès wool fabric with splashes of subtle orange and teal sets the tone for the palette that repeats throughout the house.

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Oak chairs from Suite NY surround a walnut table with a glass insert designed by Catalina Castaño. The Murano glass Sputnik chandelier is from Cosulich Interiors & Antiques. Photograph by Marco Ricca.

In the adjacent dining room, for example, where the walnut table and oak chairs also play to the surroundings, the oval Italian Murano Sputnik chandelier continues the color motif with an explosion of yellow, orange, teal and white glass pieces. Here, and throughout European oak floors imported from Belgium, and Venetian plaster walls provide a consistent, neutral backdrop.

Meanwhile, teal velvet drapes with a contrasting linen trim in the primary bedroom look like they were color matched to the lake. “You open these drapes and you feel like you are touching the water,” says Castaño. A wood-frame bed of her own design is upholstered in velvet, and glass and brass sconces resembling branches look to be growing out of the headboard. “I wanted it to feel like a beautiful luxury five-star hotel.”

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In the primary bedroom, Castaño designed the bed with floating side tables, headboard fabric is a Romo cotton-linen blend, and the sconces are from 7 Gods Lighting. Photograph by Marco Ricca.

In the family room—where Castaño also designed the tuxedo-back sofa topped with Hermès covered accent pillows—a pair of art panels in bold hues enliven the gathering place. As she explains about the pieces from the homeowners’ collection, “They are made out of metal and are from a 1930s theater set.”

Elsewhere, intentional interjections of blues and greens—like the shimmery blue ceramic tile in the son’s bathroom, kitchen bar stools stained a Midori green, and a teal velvet bolster pillow on the primary suite bed—guarantee the lake connection is never lost. But just in case such gestures proved too subtle, Castaño left no doubt about the importance of the water locale in the powder room where a floating marble vanity backed by wallpaper featuring fish darting in every direction makes an unforgettable statement. About her design strategy Castaño says, “In Colombia, we cover every wall with color but in this country that is too much. Instead, I use pops of color to make the spaces happy.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: The Shape of Water.