Tour a Striking Westport Residence Fit for Entertaining
A stunning contemporary design embraces the New England vernacular.
The fun of this house is more in the links than the forms,” architect Chris Pagliaro says. He’s talking about a recently completed house for a couple in Westport, a project that had particular resonance for him. “This is my third time working on this property,” Pagliaro says. The first and second times were versions of historical renovations to an existing house on the site, in keeping with the town’s stringent property laws; this last time, thanks to some creative thinking (they kept the historic house, making this one a second structure), he was able to fly free.
Pagliaro was brought onto the project by Ryan Fletcher of Fletcher Development, a local design/ builder and a longtime friend, who also brought in Lisa Oakes of Oaklee Interiors for the interior design. Together, the three of them produced a geometric structure full of massive expanses of glass (that can be made opaque at the touch of a blinds-controlling button); axes along which Pagliaro’s links start to happen; and moments that support the clients’ gracious approach to entertaining.
Fletcher says that they designed the house “around the main idea of sunlight,” following where the sun rises and sets, and orienting the living quarters and more public areas around not only maximum exposure, but best exposure. That move led to the decision to feature glass walls prominently throughout, oriented toward the rolling yard, which was as important to the husband as the interior was to the wife; the clients also wanted 12-foot ceilings, which might sound both standard and glamorous but which presented a major design challenge.
“Not every room is large in plan,” Pagliaro points out, which means that anything smaller than a living room can start to feel like a narrow shaft instead of a high-ceilinged airy space. To help mitigate that potential issue, Pagliaro introduced moments of respite from the otherwise monolithic surfaces, creating windows that bumped out to create a moment of interest on the exterior and spatial relief on the interior, and having those links offer moments of compression. “I’m all about juxtaposing eye movement,” Pagliaro says. “I didn’t want to exaggerate the linear.”
The solution was three iconic gable-roof sections, connected with large glass expanses, themselves detailed with, in the main area, a striking staircase. Double-height windows draw that light in, while black frames around the extruded windows provide a sense of approachable scale in what would otherwise feel monolithic.
Breaking up those exaggerated volumes is where the interior design came in. This was Oakes’ first solo project after striking out on her own, and she approached the brief with a mix of intuition and careful attention to the clients’ art collection, which they hoped would take center stage. Working closely with the clients, Oakes went for a monochromatic look leavened by statement fixtures like a Swoop Moonlight Murmuration chandelier in the dining room, and emphasized neutral details, material delicacy (like a white silk rug in the living room), and constant attention to how the furnishings and interior design support the overall aesthetic of openness, grace and hospitality.
The kitchen, whose size offered a Goldilocks challenge to the designers—not too small that they couldn’t entertain but not so large that they got lost—is detailed in long stretches of neutral material with entirely hidden hardware, and features a massive folding window that allows the fresh air to rush in and circulate.
All three loved working on this project, which earned a 2022 HOBI award for Outstanding Custom Home 6,000–7,000 square feet. For Pagliaro, it offered an intellectual challenge; for Fletcher, a chance to flex his design-build wings; and for Oakes, an absolutely ideal first client. “It was an unbelievable learning experience for me,” she says. “It was such a good project to have.”
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: House of Three Gables.