Bright and Bold in Fairfield CountyText by Megan Fulweiler Photography by Michael Partenio Produced by Stacy Kunstel
When a young couple packed up their daughter and left London for the States, they had certain requisites in mind for their big move to Boston. Topping their must-have list was a quintessential New England-style house on which they could impart their own spirited stamp. As it turned out, however, the Fairfield County home they purchased couldn’t have been more off the mark. Large rooms—more European than Yankee—yielded few cozy corners, and a dated ambience seeped through the place like a fog.
Fortunately, the wife, who has a talent for design, looked beyond the drawbacks and imagined the possibilities. With help from interior designer Amy Aidinis Hirsch, who happens to be a friend, she forged ahead. First, they blitzed the kitchen, the master suite followed, then came the dining room and so on till every corner had been tweaked. “She was the driving force,” Hirsch says. “She was fearless and ready to take chances.”
Indeed, visitors are in for surprises. A series of deft moves gave the exterior a correct Yankee flair (it originally felt like a French chateau), but the interior transformation is what stops them in their tracks. Bold colors and patterns that might have clashed in less capable hands instead make enviable unions that conjure warmth.
And far more than just places to park a drink or to sit, the furnishings ooze personality. Case in point: the swanky living room where a charming Hermès wallpaper sets off a custom sofa as vibrant as a sunset. A Mitchell Gold chair with a Lucite base appears to float on the faux hide rug, and rather than a staid cupboard to hold books and games, there’s a modern lacquered cabinet. “It’s lined with walnut,” Hirsch points out. “Everything in this house—everything the family touches or engages with—has been elevated.”
Just look at the kitchen, a collaboration that included the expert help of New Canaan’s True North Cabinets. Twin islands, unending storage, and a commanding Lacanche range further the wife’s passion for baking. The range, in a delicious shade of burgundy red, is “the jewelry of the space,” says Hirsch.
“I always pay attention to how people live,” Hirsch says, as if that weren’t obvious in every corner of the house. Consider how the family room next to the kitchen contains ample seating so guests can converse with the cook while meals come together. The dining room table is another example. A perfect size for the family, and it expands for entertaining.
And then there are the unexpected elements—like pinches of flavor-enhancing salt—that make the house memorable. The master suite is as gracious as it gets, but a brass Jean De Merry chandelier adds a spark of whimsy. Its spiky silhouette is the ideal visual foil to the quiet palette and tailored hearth-side seating area.
The house may not have started out as the classic New England-style home the couple originally envisioned, but they ended up with something better than they ever could have imagined: a colorful house as joyful as those who call it home.
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