April 13, 2011
Text by Katie Keating Photography by Laura Moss
Winter’s frigid grip has finally relaxed its tight hold and surrendered to the gentler spring breezes that seem to bring us back to life each year in New England. The lengthening days infuse our homes with natural light and help awaken the sleeping landscape that surrounds us. It’s a time for change, both inside and out.
Situated on fourteen acres in the backcountry of Greenwich, this classic center-hall colonial epitomizes just such a sense of transition. While traditional architectural elements provide a framework for the home, the interiors have been given a fresh, contemporary design by Linda Ruderman-Rosier, of Greenwich-based Linda Ruderman Interiors. “The clients’ goal for their home was to have a comfortable living space that was functional for their young family, with a sophisticated design aesthetic,” Ruderman-Rosier says. Frequent travelers and avid art collectors, her clients wanted to be “surrounded by peacefulness and comfort” when they returned home.
The foyer establishes that peaceful sensibility right away with walls painted a quiet neutral set off by handsome millwork in a crisp white. Such tranquility doesn’t preclude a dose of the theatrical, however, in the form of a vivid painting by Australian artist Tracey Moffatt, which hangs above a clean-lined sofa the color of a Meyer lemon tucked in a niche along one wall. The black-and-white marble floor adds further excitement, pulling the eye through the space and into the heart of the house.
Quiet drama reigns again in the formal living room, where the designer made the most of the long, narrow space. “This proved to be the most challenging room of the project because of its size,” says Ruderman-Rosier. “My intent was to create three different seating areas, yet make the room feel very interactive when occupied by a large group.”
Taking center stage is a custom mahogany and velvet back-to-back, “see-through” sofa designed by Ruderman-Rosier to bring a touch of old Hollywood glamour to the room. One side of the sofa looks toward a wall of windows, where the light spills onto a second seating area presided over by a grand piano. The other side of the sofa completes an arrangement that includes a set of Edward Ferrell club chairs and a Henry Royer bronze-and-glass coffee table. Glass-and-acrylic cigarette tables—just the right size to hold an evening cocktail—provide a bit of additional sparkle. A second sofa snuggles in a classical recessed niche opposite the room’s fireplace. French doors flanking the fireplace lead to the well-manicured grounds, which are also visible from cleverly designed window seats at each end of the room. Windows have been purposefully left unadorned, blurring the lines between interior and exterior and flooding the room with natural light. The Jim Thompson silk wallcovering adds a sumptuous layer to the room and, along with the Paul Lee rug of silk and wool, brings the seating arrangements into happy cohabitation. The result is a room equally well suited to the energetic buzz of a large cocktail party or a quiet evening with a few close friends.
In contrast to the subtle tones of the living room, the library boasts rich, warm color in the knotty pine paneling surrounding the fireplace and in the deep blue of the room’s velvet sofa. “I wanted the room to embrace you as you entered the space,” Ruderman-Rosier explains. To accomplish that, she says, “I incorporated varying textures, such as luxurious velvet, cashmere, leather and wool, into the design scheme.” Brass andirons in a classical Greek key motif shine from the double-sided fireplace, which looks through to the dining room. A sleek brass-trimmed Jansen coffee table echoes the gleam of the andirons. A painting by Damien Hirst, part of the homeowners’ large collection of contemporary art, keeps watch over the cozy scene.
Nowhere is the connection between indoor and outdoor environments more evident than in the airy double-height breakfast room off the kitchen. Windows on two levels and multiple French doors that open to the landscape convey the feeling of being in a large, luxurious greenhouse. The strong rectilinear elements of the room’s architecture are softened by the curvaceous table and chairs and the hexagonal floor tiles.
One set of French doors looks out on a terrace, where the JANUS et Cie table and chairs seem to mirror their indoor counterparts. The terrace is part of a creative landscape, designed by Ruderman-Rosier along with Wesley Stout Associates, that weaves together native plantings, verdant lawns and architecturally inspired planters overflowing with colorful blooms.
The importance of the outdoor environment comes into play again in the master suite, where Ruderman-Rosier integrated the views into her design. In the sitting area, three windows behind a desk have been left bare to allow maximum exposure to the outside. The large center picture window that frames the custom contemporary desk is bordered on either side with double-hung windows adorned with a circular motif. That delicate scrolling is echoed in the ceiling medallion and chandelier, as well as in the sleeping-area fabrics that drape the windows and cover the bed.
Millwork, including the recessed-panel doors of the sitting room’s built-in cupboards, gives the suite a rich, classical look. In the sitting area, Ruderman-Rosier created a little sanctuary, covering the curved sofa, club chair and tufted ottoman in a calming neutral fabric with an interlocking trim motif. A glass-and-metal oval table adds more texture to the space and provides a reflective surface to catch the light that floods in through the windows. The designer tied the sleeping and sitting areas together with another carpet of silk and wool by Paul Lee. The sleeping area holds a second spot for lounging, a custom-designed sofa in a recessed bay along an expanse of divided light windows. Here, the windows are dressed in a combination of gently pleated roman shades and traditional floor-to-ceiling drapery panels. “If I had to use one word to describe this room it would be serene,” Ruderman-Rosier says. “My intention was to create a clean, tailored, relaxing sanctuary, and I think my clients would agree that we were successful in doing just that.”
As night falls, the room’s sense of restfulness and tranquility offers the perfect ending to the day and the promise of a bright tomorrow.