Collector’s Addition: An edgy space marries family living with artful showcase.
Interview with Tori Legge, Stirling Mills Interior Design.
Interior Design: Stirling Mills Interior Design, New Canaan, 203-594 9596; stirlingmills.com
Architect: Howard F. Kelly II, HK2 Architects, 203-956-0348; hk2arch.com
Builder: TR Building & Remodeling, New Canaan, 203-429-9638; rebuilt.com
Photographer: Tim Lenz
Who lives here?
A family with three kids: two in high school, one in middle school. They love art. The husband is a massive collector. He collects vintage cars (a carbarn is currently in progress), original Air Jordans, among other things. And they trusted me with this project. There’s a lot of black in the house. He’s a very edgy guy.
What was the scope of the project?
They’d lived in this house—a 1989 brick Georgian—for a while, and this was a complete gut renovation with TR Building & Remodeling and Howard Kelly of HK2 Architects. A large addition was added, making room for a new mudroom, office, laundry room, primary suite, bonus room, and an additional garage bay. We went back and forth on the house about painting the exterior brick, and I’m really glad that we ended up keeping it red. We got all new windows. And in the back, there are tons of them, so it was trying to bring the outside in.
The landscaping in the backyard is really beautiful, so you can see something from every angle. The entrance sets the tone for the rest of the house, with the staircase, light fixture, and art. Tell us about that. The ceilings were so high, so we needed something vertical that would hang down. That fixture ended up fitting the space perfectly. We redid the baluster and spindles on the staircase, and then we just did that Phillip Jeffries paper on that one curved accent wall. The front door is really amazing; it’s custom, solid in the middle with two sidelights on either side, and it swings in and out.
What were they asked for in the kitchen?
They cook all the time. We added the four-foot galley sink, two ovens, a whole coffee and tea area. They also have a True Residential tall glass front fridge, constantly loaded for all of the kids. We went with light cerused white oak cabinets, and one of the islands is higher than your typical island height because the husband is a stranger. We did an Amuneal piece(hanging shelving) in the kitchen, between the hall where the powder room is. It’s nice to see into the kitchen and not have a full wall there.
You touched on the art. With a collector like this, how did that factor into your design?
Adam Bateman is an art curator who is also a friend of the family, and I worked with him selecting a lot of the art pieces. Much of their existing collection went to their house in Florida, so it was nice to shake up the whole thing. We kept a lot of the furniture neutral in color. There’s a lot of black. There’s one room with a white rug and a white lacquer piano. So then, when there’s a huge pop of an 8×10 piece of art, it really stands out more. You’re not competing with them. There aren’t a bunch of patterns and fabrics.
How did the architecture, and especially all the arched windows and spaces, play into your choices?
It was a conscious decision. In the back, they have all these arches off the kitchen. Those were all new windows. We kept true to the arches but got rid of all the mullions so they’re just glass. In the front, we squared off a lot of the windows. Tell us about the sneaker wall. They’re all original, from every year that Michael Jordan had them. It was his idea to display them, and we got this huge rack and these lucite feet that come out for the shoes. Underneath the sneakers, there’s a built-in humidor and a bar. It’s in a sitting room where the parents spend more time. Upstairs, there’s a separate sitting room for the kids. It really works well for their family.
How would you describe your own style?
I’m definitely more minimal—but not in a cold way. I’m not a huge tchotchke person. I like more textures than a lot of patterns, because I feel it just lasts a bit longer over time. If people want to change things overtime, it’s easier to adjust. More clean lines; more streamlined. I’m not the type of person who does a lot of trim. I’m unfussy. Home should be a place where you can relax, and some homes that have a lot going on make me feel that I cant relax.
How hard is it to marry your own style with a client’s personal choices?
Hopefully, a client has done their research and seen what we’ve done and get a sense of our style. It’s nice when someone trusts you. But sometimes it’s good to be challenged and pushed out of my comfort box.
Do you have a favorite part of the project?
This happened over two years during COVID. Everyone was on constant calls, and it was such a weird time. But I enjoyed every bit of it. This family was such a pleasure to work with.