Turning the Corner
Anne Carr has a thing for geometry, but didn’t know it until recently. From the circular foyer of her 1929 English Regency-style Darien home and the round robin’s egg blue leather tuffet in the sunroom, to the sharp-edged rectangular Jonathan Adler sofa in the living room and the trapezoidal cut-outs of her dining room cabinets, the cofounder of blinkdecor.com has filled her home with the rhythms of circles and squares echoing Art Deco and mid-century design sensibilities.
The resulting vibe is sophistication, not Playskool.
“Now I’m cognizant of this square/circle thing. I know I’m geometric,” laughs Anne, a busy mother of three.
Anne has chosen a wide variety of materials from which to execute the shapes: ranging from sleek Lucite semicircular benches and enormous multiple aubergine Murano glass disc wall sconces, to plush chenille, leather and silk wools. It all creates a certain order, without monotony.
“I grew up in a pretty traditional house. But I’ve moved toward clean lines and a minimalist way of living because my life is so chaotic that I like less clutter, less things around. My husband is a neat freak — proud to be a neat freak,” she explains.
Until several years ago, it was a challenge keeping order in the Carr home. “We moved in 10 years ago and lived with it for seven. It was a house built for a lifestyle of the 1920s: no closets, no family area. It was the era. We needed to update it,” Anne says.
The couple called in Roger Bartels of Bartels Pagliaro Architects in South Norwalk to rework the home but keep its traditional exterior. “We were adamant about that. We didn’t want someone driving up and saying there’s the new part of the house,” she says.
Bartels converted a drafty one-season sun porch into a glorious sunroom, juxtaposed to a circular breakfast area, a rectangular kitchen space, a mudroom and a back staircase. What had been a dark, dreary kitchen in the front of the house, which faced north, was now a spacious family/play room. On the second floor of the turret — which mimics that at the entry of the house — is the
master bathroom that anchors the dressing room, a reading niche and the master bedroom.
With the renovation nearing completion, it was time to think about decorating the new space. Anne has been collecting mid-century antiques all along, and to save time, turned to the Internet to find design inspiration in keeping with that vision. Around the same time, her friend, Connie Dirvin, was also completing her home’s renovation down the street. In the fall of 2006, the pair launched blinkdecor.com, a guide to online decorating and renovating that features a well-edited mix of modern, contemporary, antique and eclectic vendors organized by category.
“Even if you’re not comfortable buying online, you save a lot of leg work this way,” Anne says. “The vendors are seeing that their business is going online. As a result they’ve developed really user-friendly websites,” she explains.
For her own home, Anne combined on-site and online shopping. One of the hazards of buying online is miscalculating scale. “I’ve had some mistakes,” she confesses. “A sofa I bought for the sunroom is now in the living room. I didn’t realize the scale. It looked like it was sinking!” She found the perfect sofa, an eight-foot beauty in acid green, at Homenature in Southampton, and constructed the sunroom around it. To ground the airy white walls and high ceilings, Anne had the wood floors stained a diluted color of ebony.
A pair of French, mid-century Art Deco chairs sit opposite the sofa. Anne had seen them online, but they were out of reach monetarily. “I wanted them forever, then they went on sale,” she says. Originally in red velvet, she recovered them in a funky geometric fabric that set her color palette. To find an area rug, Anne says she “pre-shopped” online at The Rug Company, found the pattern she wanted, then headed into the SoHo showroom with all her fabric swatches. Most of the room’s accessories were found in local shops. From Pimlico, in New Canaan, Anne found white lacquered end tables that flank the sofa, as well as the circular tuffet in light blue leather and the ultrasuede throw pillows. The bronze and laminate coffee table is from HB Home in Westport.
One of Anne’s favorite vendors, Capitol Furnishings in New York City, created the round table in the circular breakfast room. The base is Lucite, but instead of a glass top, Anne requested Carrara marble. The company also made complementary semicircular benches of Lucite, covered in vinyl, “so I can Windex them,” says the designer. Suspended above in a feathered flurry is the Birdies chandelier, from Signorello in Westport.
In the kitchen, adjustable Lucite barstools with a Jetsons look were found at “a random store in the city, a real hole in the wall,” notes Anne, who spotted them as she was driving by. The kitchen cabinetry is painted a blue/gray, inspired by a Martha Stewart salt glaze. Countertops are Bristol Gray marble. Pillow-shaped glass tiles called Quilt by Erin Adams from Ann Sacks comprise the backsplash and are in the same hue as the cabinets. The island, covered in stainless steel, gleams from the cylindrical glass “Florence” pendant lamps overhead, into which Anne put mercury-tipped light bulbs. They were found at Juliska in Stamford.
Upstairs, the master bedroom overlooks Scott’s Cove and Long Island Sound beyond. Anne has painted the walls with Benjamin Moore’s Healing Aloe, which, she says, “I’ve used in three different houses.” A rug from online vendor Popcows jazzes up the floor. Walking into the dressing area, Anne stops and says, “This is so Roger Bartels,” indicating a hyper-glass-cubed niche that frames the view. Her kids love to read on the double chaise tufted in beige faux leather, which reposes there, from Area ID in New York.
From glass cube to hedonistic circle, the master bath, which occupies the turret, shimmers with glass mosaic tiles from Waterworks and Bisazza Loom. Waterworks fittings in polished nickel and Spectra Decor drawer pulls made from recycled glass bejewel the space.
The original master bath was converted into Anne’s home office. The process caused the living room ceiling to fall down, fortunately missing the Jonathan Adler sofa that had finally found the perfect spot, sitting squarely in front of the fireplace.
Ann Sacks Tile & Stone Inc., Greenwich, 622-1689; annsacks.com
Area ID, New York City, 212-219-9903
Bartels Pagliaro Architects, South Norwalk, 838-5517; bartels-pagliaro.com
Capitol Furnishings, New York City, 212-925-6760
HB Home, Westport, 226-8777
Homenature, Southampton, New York, 631-287-6277
Juliska, Stamford, 316-0212; juliska.com
Pimlico, New Canaan, 972-8166
Popcows, Culver City, California, 866-788-4289; popcows.com
Signorello of Westport, Westport, 221-3200
The Rug Company, New York City, 212-274-0444; therugcompany.info
Waterworks, Westport, 227-5008; waterworks.com