Minimalist Design in Westport

December 4, 2020

Designer Angela Belt transforms a home from an empty box to fashion-forward fun.

Text by Jennifer Carmichael     Photography by Chinasa Cooper

Sometimes a blank slate is intimidating—or just what’s needed to bring a vision to life.  A young couple, new homeowners who moved from a two-bedroom apartment in New York City to a four-bedroom home in Westport, furnished as many rooms as possible with what they already owned, but the living and dining rooms remained empty for more than a year after moving in. Between hectic work schedules and parenting a toddler, they were crunched for time.

“I definitely had an idea of what I wanted but wasn’t sure how to implement it,” says the wife, who works in the fashion industry and had been commuting into New York City and travelling internationally pre-COVID.

A stark entry and empty rooms surprised West Hartford-based interior designer and stylist Angela Belt. First, she listened to her clients, wanting to understand their tastes. The husband, who had been reverse commuting from New York to Westport for fifteen years, worked in finance yet appreciated abstract art. That’s where he expressed his opinions; otherwise, he opted to stay on the sidelines. So, Belt focused on translating the wife’s fashion style to the interior, while also striving to achieve a minimalist, clean design.

Knowing that her clients hadn’t been entertaining yet love to host friends, Belt aimed to make the spaces party friendly. In the living room, she sought to maximize seating without overcrowding the space. Sourcing Danish-modern styles, she selected two white sofas from Design Within Reach, one a settee and one full scale, both of which pair nicely with two wood-frame, midcentury, black leather accent chairs. A bar cabinet allows the budding entertainers to easily serve drinks without leaving the room.

Belt had the owners’ collection of abstract artwork, previously tucked away in a closet, framed, and added plants to make the room feel fresh. “She had beautiful fashion books and magazines in drawers,” remembers the designer, who couldn’t wait to comb through the collections and give them center stage on the bookcases and accent tables.

Also in storage were three large prints of actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Elle Fanning and French singer Vanessa Paradis that the homeowner had procured from an art exhibit years prior. Perfect conversation for the dining room, the prints complement the original Serge Mouille ceiling lamp—a must-have for the wife due to the fixture’s unfussy lines and big impact. The aesthetic leans Danish again in the selection of the Sami Kallio table and chairs. To highlight the curvature of the lines of the accent chairs, emphasize the taper of the legs on the table, and allow the Serge Mouille fixture to shine, Belt purposely kept the walls light with no foliage or window treatments.

The scope of work expanded to the entryway and an empty guest room, which the wife wanted serene and white. In the latter, Belt mixes styles—a Hans Wegner wishbone chair paired with a sleek, modern desk—to lend interest.

The project required careful curation with an eye toward pieces that would make the biggest impact in order to achieve the homeowners’ vision, says Belt. Ironically, all of the editing led to a welcomed addition: The couple had their second child the following year, making their home and family truly complete.

Project Team
Interior design: Angela Belt, Angela Belt, Art & Style