Having lived in several houses before, a young Westport family of five had a pretty good idea of what they wanted in their new place. When they discovered a great location that overlooks the Sound, they knew they’d found the right spot. Architect Jack Franzen masterfully fit plans to the site, creating a house that embraces its landscape rather than dominating it, while still managing to take advantage of its views.
Before construction began, the couple called in Angela Camarda to help them with the interiors. A senior interior designer at Lillian August, she had already completed projects for the husband’s office and the couple’s ski house. “My clients were a delight to work with. They trusted me, and basically allowed me to ‘do my thing,’” recalls Angela, who sourced all of the home’s furnishings from the store. “I was there when the house was, literally, a pile of dirt. So I was able to work with my clients on every facet of the interiors, from the wood finishes, light fixtures, paint, stone, tile, furnishings, window treatments, art and accessories, to all the small details in-between that make a big difference in the final result.”
Choosing colors was fairly simple. Because of the location, and the fact that the family loves the water, a beach palette seemed right. Using the sand and sea as a basis for selecting the design elements, Angela was able to fill public and private spaces using the vast Lillian August arsenal of manufacturers, designers and antiques purveyors.
While her clients gave her almost unlimited freedom to come up with solutions, Angela displayed one of the most important characteristics of a good designer: the ability to listen and act according to the cues and clues she is given by her clients. In this case, they were interested, design-wise, in a road not often taken in tradition-bound Fairfield County. Since by their own admission they are “casual people,” they wanted a break from the furnishings and décor of the center-hall Colonial they were leaving. “In our last home, everything was lovely, but very traditional, and it felt a little stuffy,” the wife admits. “We had a living room but never used it.” So Angela was given liberty to forgo formality in exchange for function. “This is a young, active family, and so they didn’t want or need any museum rooms in this house; there are no swags, no jabots and no fussiness. Instead, we took the space one normally associates with a formal living room and made it into something that my clients could really live in—where they all could enjoy themselves,” Angela says.
The concept for the room evolved around a pair of oil paintings that the husband’s father had given him. These were portraits of two elegantly dressed gentlemen, vintage 1940, and inspired the designer and her clients to build a room around them.
The club room, as it is dubbed, has become the perfect gathering spot for family and friends, who regularly convene there for holidays, and for ordinary hanging out. In place of the customary sitting room configuration, the centerpiece of the space is a retro, pro-size pool table, made from a vintage 1945 anniversary model. Angela supervised its setup. “I was there when it was delivered, in pieces, and then hand assembled on site. The frame is shaped like a car bumper, with pinstripes running along its walnut sides, and a brushed stainless steel base. In place of the standard emerald green felt top, the cloth is navy.” It’s an unexpected twist, but perfect in this setting.
Surrounding the room’s focal point, the designer has replicated the style of a gentleman’s club, complete with traditional menswear fabrics for the upholstery, and an extra-long Chesterfield sofa, to accommodate the husband’s six-foot-five-inch frame. A glass-front cherry cabinet, custom-made in France, holds a rack for pool cues and a bar. To complete the look and carry through the palette of blues seen throughout the house, Angela instructed the painter to use Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy—a deep, fully saturated shade—on walls, moldings and even window casings. Like the rest of the house, this special space is what the designer likes to call “classically handsome.”
While the house has a distinctly Nantucket feel, hugging its site with an almost demure shingled façade, the designer’s subtle hand restrained the impulse to theme the house to its location. Colors and textures—driftwood beiges, navy and other sea-blue shades, and marine prints and decorative objects such as shells and corals—suggest, rather than shout, the relationship. To complement the views, which are captured through almost all the windows of the home’s public spaces, Angela uses minimal coverings. Translucent shades, simple valances, and curtains that are elegant without frills define the openings.
Smooth painted wall finishes alternate with lightly textured coverings. The designer uses grasscloth in some spaces, linen in others; the variations give the rooms the appearance of depth and warmth. “Texture is as much a part of this home’s design as the color palette,” Angela says.
It’s a source of pride, for the couple and their designer, that every room in the house is well used. While the club room is very much the guys’ hangout—though everyone’s welcome—Angela also made sure that all family members had special, personal spaces. The playroom, with chairs in multiple hues and a long art table that was once found in a school chemistry lab, is a fun and functional space that keeps the children and their friends occupied in all weather.
Angela even captured some square footage on the third floor, connected to the bedroom below by its own staircase, to create a cozy hideaway for the wife. Outfitted with a full-length counter and cabinets to serve as her office space, and a sitting area to curl up in, it’s the perfect retreat after a long day of appointments and children’s activities. “Angela was great to work with,” the wife says. “Because she really listened, and stuck with us to the very last accessory, our house is exactly as we want it. She really understood us. It’s rare to find someone so dedicated to getting all the details right. We appreciate the results, every day.”
J. P. Franzen Architects, Southport, 203-259-0529; franzenarchitects.com
Lillian August, Norwalk, 203-847-3314; lillianaugust.com