In designer Mar Silver’s Westport antique home, the only constant is change
photographs hulya kolabas
You’ve heard the saying, “life imitates art.” Well for interior and furniture designer Mar Silver, the opposite is also true.
With a modern, minimal approach to her work in both furniture and interior design, Silver’s signature aesthetic is the one she favors in her own home as well. Her house in Westport also serves as her design studio and gallery space, creating a somewhat symbiotic relationship between Silver’s creations and the woman who lives among them.
“I work where I live because I have a hard time separating the two,” says Silver, whose late 1800s home in Westport provides the perfect backdrop for her modern furniture and art collection. “In my work, I love to add modern proportions to classic designs and mix the two,” and she’s done it again by giving a century-old home a very new style.
She loved the spirit and energy of the century-old structure, where she lives with her twelve-year-old son, as soon as she opened the front door. Its intimate scale and layout make it cozy, and its large windows flood the rooms with light and give it a connection to the outdoors. “I loved the bones, I loved the age of it,” says Mar. “I knew with how I design, that it would be such a great balance. I saw how I could evolve it and make it a minimal space.”
She loved the bones, yes, and fell in love with the traditional moldings and character of the house, but the one space that did not charm her was the kitchen. Silver kept the old porcelain country sink, but tossed the 1940s plywood cabinetry, transforming the kitchen into a modern space with sleek cabinets and sliding glass doors that lead out to the yard.
Since she moved in a little more than three years ago, the house has been ever-changing, though in more subtle ways than her initial kitchen overhaul. “It evolved over time and it’s still evolving, and I’m enjoying the process,” says Silver.
How she’s experiencing the house is how she determines what to do with it next—which room to rethink or rework—and how she lives in the space influences her design work immensely. “What I always end up doing with my homes is using them like a work in progress. I love to use them almost as an experiment to see how my furniture works,” she says. Since she lives surrounded by her designs, she is constantly trying to change and improve them according to how she’s living and experiencing her space.
And since this house is both primary residence and design studio, what better way to show her clients what she’s all about than to bring them home? “When the client walks in, they see what I want to do and what I’m about. It’s just such a great way to show what the feeling of the house is, and people get such a visual understanding,” she says.
A large part of Silver’s interior design work is art, and clients certainly will notice the dramatic pieces she has sprinkled throughout the house—pieces that would command attention anywhere, but are particularly striking in the minimalist, almost monochromatic atmosphere that is Silver’s design signature. For clients, seeing a piece there can be an eye-opening experience. “It’s not only that they see the piece, but that they see how it looks in a space,” says Silver.
Her collection is a constantly changing and evolving mix of well-known and emerging artists, which she has procured from many an art fair, and elsewhere.
“I’m always falling in love with the next thing I see. There’s always something that’s turning into my favorite,” she says. It’s a good thing, because works of art come and go from her home regularly. If a client walks in and connects with a piece, it’s moving out.
“If they envision it in their house, it’s theirs, that’s how I see it,” says Silver. Or, on the other hand, after she’s lived with a piece for a while, she’ll know just whom it belongs with.
Silver’s home is creative, cozy, and constantly adjusting to suit her lifestyle. “How I live and how I design, it’s one thing,” she says. In the house, “I feel uncluttered, I feel alive, I feel serene. It feels very sexy, very minimal,” says the designer, whose feelings about her home are sure to be envied by many.
As this home has evolved, so have many others before, but it seems that Silver has finally met her match. “I’ve had many different homes, and I feel like this house is finally the balance I’ve been looking for,” she says. She’s found her balance, but in order to keep it, it seems this designer will constantly be making changes.
Mar Silver Design, 203-341-0413, marsilver.com