Step Inside an Airy Washington Depot Retreat That Mixes Styles
It isn’t everyone who can boast that his or her house was blessed by monks, but for one lucky Manhattan resident who was already besotted with a rambling home in Washington Depot, the limestone floors, distressed wood and paneled walls came with consecrations. Recently divorced and with three teenaged children, by her own account the single working mom in search of a weekend retreat entered the kitchen, glimpsed the exposed beams and knew she was home. “The house had so many stunning details, I knew this is where I wanted my next chapter to start,” she says. “And the previous owners had a group of monks bless the house, which was an added bonus!”
Her enthusiasm for the classic architecture was equaled only by her excitement over her choice of Kevin Dumais to outfit the interiors. “It seemed like everything he touched had great style but was cozy and comfortable,” she enthuses, adding that her directives to Dumais were simple. “Nothing fussy or fancy, and the design should reflect the beauty of the house.”
For his part, Dumais took one look at the carved stone fireplace and panel detailing and knew just what to do. “We countered the architecture with larger scaled furniture and things not too heavily ornamented. We let the house have that aspect,” he explains, pointing to the clean-lined, 10-foot-long silk mohair sofa in the living room as an example. “If we brought in rolled arms and nail heads, it would have been too much.” More refined sculptural shapes like the oval breakfast nook table and curving master bedroom headboard provide additional pushback. “The softer lines work against the strong architectural lines,” he adds.
Throughout the spaces, the furnishings feature a mindful melding of textures, shapes and Dumais’ signature genre blending, the latter punctuated with midcentury modern interjections. “I’m driven to midcentury pieces, and bringing them together with other items is something I have developed over the course of my career,” says the designer, who added French bleached-oak club chairs, circa 1970, alongside a woven side table, and a George Smith chair and ottoman swathed in a bold botanic fabric in the living room. In the entry, a Saarinen side table meets a traditional antique bench; and on one of two screened porches, a daybed with Asian lines, a vintage rattan table, and a live edge side table all happily coexist.
“Proportion is key,” says Dumais, when asked about his success in bringing disparate pieces together so effortlessly. “In the living room, my first purchase was the wingback chair because it had height and worked with the verticality of the room.” Color and texture also contribute to the home’s cohesiveness and the simple silvery gray and cool white palette “was a given considering the extent of the architectural details,” he adds.
Texture takes center stage in the dining room where every piece—from the cerused oak table, “a favorite of mine because of the depth it gives to the wood finish,” to the woven leather chairs—was selected to complement the metal chandelier. Shearling throws on the chairs are flirtatious, and the pale blush color on the ceiling adds a hint of femininity.
Despite her back-seat role, when it came to the master suite, the homeowner says, “I knew I wanted soft colors and something ethereal.” Dumais responded by painting the existing ivory surfaces a pale blue gray, and adding a boudoir chandelier for a touch of Hollywood glam. “The bed is tucked into a double-height alcove, and I changed the color to make it moodier and better for sleeping,” he says.
The homeowner’s reaction to her private quarters was succinct. “It’s the most exquisite heavenly space,” she enthuses, noting the total package attained a similar high bar. “I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a home that feels both earthy and so filled with style. Kevin made my house more beautiful and peaceful and cozy than anything I could have imagined.”
A version of this article appeared in the April 2019 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Feeling Blessed.