Mother of Reinvention: A Westport Home Gets a Makeover

February 21, 2014

Text by Maria LaPiana    Photography by Michael Partenio    Produced by Stacy Kunstel

A clever designer takes a fresh look at her old possessions and brings a new glamour to her own classic colonial.

A homeowner who calls on an interior designer may have in mind a top-to-bottom metamorphosis or a barely-there freshening up. The client’s budget and the degree of displeasure with his or her surroundings figure into the scope of the project.

But when the home is a designer’s own—when she has invested in high-quality furnishings, but has grown weary of her dated spaces, when she loves her things but is inspired every day by new colors, fabrics, and finishes—the project may fall somewhere between a total makeover and a clever ruse made possible by fresh paint, new materials, and a few well-chosen accessories.

Fortunately, Susan Glick, a designer with a penchant for a decidedly modern aesthetic, has a knack for reinventing fundamentally sound interiors, and her Westport home is a case in point. “I really can envision what a space will look like,” Glick says. “Beyond the current furnishings, I can see where it’s going.”

Several years ago, she got the bug to redo her house, a center-hall colonial she and her husband built sixteen years ago. Back then, she says, she was careful to choose an architectural style that was classic and clean, and decorated it in “a traditional manner, what was in vogue at the time.”

Because the bones of the house were good, and because Glick still loved much of what she’d filled it with the first time around, she felt that updating would mean “repurposing much of what I had, cleaning up the details, and reinventing rooms with a new color palette.” So while her home has changed significantly, she didn’t switch everything out—not even close. She resurfaced, reupholstered, and revamped. She fine-tuned it room by room, ditching the trendy and keeping the classics, albeit giving them a fresh look.

The transformation started in the kitchen and progressed to the nearby family room. Next came the master bedroom, then the living room and center hall. Glick made only a few changes in the dining room. All told, the project took close to two years. “When it’s your own home, the process is a little bit slower,” she says. “You have to squeeze it in.”

The kitchen had been white with dark-green granite countertops and a backsplash adorned with ceramic fruits and vegetables. “The first thing I did was take away all the details,” says Glick. “I left only the cabinetry and the flooring.”

Now, Calacatta marble counters and a backsplash of marble subway tile complement the clean, light cabinetry. Polished-nickel hardware and a serene gray wall color by Farrow & Ball add to the sophisticated vibe. The country pine table and traditional chairs in the casual dining area gave way to a round table in dark wood with a contemporary X-leg base and streamlined chairs covered in white leather. Overhead, a pendant lamp sports a drum shade in shiny nickel.

The family room as Glick designed it originally was, she says, “gorgeous, with a very English feel.” As much as she loved it, though, the room, with its skirted sofa, faux-linen wall treatment, and brick fireplace now felt a bit too heavy and layered.

Glick stripped the sofa of its skirt and bullion fringe and re-covered it in quiet beige. With its exposed legs stained a darker color, the piece took on a more current attitude. “In order to really understand how to convert existing furnishings into new ones, it helps if you have a really good workroom,” she says. She does, in Norwalk-based Artistic Upholstery.

A platinum-hued sisal rug with a diamond pattern adds texture and panache, while the silver-colored travertine that replaced the red brick of the fireplace further ratchets up the contemporary feel. A decorative painter repainted and glazed the classic white bookcases in silvery gray, adding a strié finish for dimension. Glick gave the cocktail table new life by changing its cherry stain to walnut and updated a console table by replacing its turned legs with streamlined ones. As a backdrop for her new-old pieces, Glick covered the walls with an extra-fine grasscloth in pale platinum. Lillian August chairs in dark-gray velvet and furry white pillows add the final touch to a room that now feels light, airy, and thoroughly up-to-date.

Moving on to the master bedroom, the designer swapped out the Swedish Country style for a sophisticated look reminiscent of a fine hotel suite. She wanted everything here to be soothing, but at the same time she wanted to up the glamour factor. The ceiling, outfitted in crushed-mica wallpaper, shimmers above walls that wear a subtle but stunning blue-gray paper with a textured Moroccan-gate pattern. The room’s crowning glory is its light fixture—an upside-down pyramid of round and teardrop-shaped crystals set in a mount trimmed with silver leaf. The piece, Glick says, “has a very clean, clear light that reflects the mica paper and bounces off the walls.”

More sheen comes from the custom headboard of silk and mohair, silk charmeuse bedding, and the draperies in pale silvery-blue accented with horizontal bands of taupe chenille. And for pull-out-all-the-stops sparkle, Glick took a floral painted chest and had it completely refinished with silver metallic paint and mirrored sides.

Back downstairs, Glick reinvented the living room from the baseboards to the crown molding. Originally, she says, “it had beautiful, chocolate-brown walls and an olive sofa. It was warm and cozy, and nearly every finish was antique gold leaf or bronze.”

With an eye toward modern chic, the designer replaced her dark palette with a variety of dusty grays, amethysts, and blues. New, custom-made wing chairs in wool and linen embellished with nail-head trim keep company with the old sofa, now reupholstered in matte gray velvet. Pieces finished in gold leaf and bronze were redone with finishes of pewter and silver. The new draperies hang from nickel hardware, and, over the fireplace, polished-nickel sconces flank a favorite painting that adds a jolt of vivid color. For the finishing touch, Glick covered the ceiling in a Donghia silver-leaf tea paper.

“I like to think our house has a little history now,” Glick says. “It took a combination of vision and reinvention,” she says, but the result is a modern, classic home, more in sync with her signature style as a designer. •

Interior design: Susan Glick