May 13, 2011
Text by Paula M. Bodah Photography by Michael Partenio
The Goodkinds had summered in Stony Creek for some years before they decided it was time to make it their year-round home. Who can blame them for wanting to enjoy the quaint seaside village that hugs the Connecticut shore where it meets Long Island Sound? A water view is grand enough, but Stony Creek has the distinction of looking out over the Thimble Islands, a jumble of glacial rocks ranging in size from acres across to not much bigger than a stepping stone. “This is what’s special about this part of Connecticut,” says Tony Terry, the architect who worked with Sandy and David Goodkind on their home. “It’s not just a blank horizon; the islands give you something to focus on. There’s always something interesting to look at, and any time there’s any change in the light it affects the water, the islands, the houses, shadows, reflections.”
The summer house the Goodkinds had enjoyed over the years wasn’t quite big enough for year-round living, Sandy says. What’s more, she’d grown tired of their other home, a large colonial that she says was “dark, dark, dark.” The solution was clear: it was time to move.
David heard about a house for sale, so the couple stopped in for a look. “I walked in and said, ‘There’s no question,’ ” Sandy recalls. “The bones of the house, the lot, the view—I was never so excited in my life.”
Of course, nothing’s ever perfect, and the Goodkinds quickly realized the house needed some major renovations. Both client and architect describe it as a 1970s ranch that had been added on to over the years until it became a two-story house with lots of smallish rooms. “It was one of those houses that are common on the shoreline,” Terry says. “It started out modest, then people would do a little here and a little there. No one ever started from scratch, so by the time the Goodkinds bought it, it was kind of patchy.”
Part of what makes this house special is what you don’t see. Because it sits in a floodplain, renovations had to conform to governmental regulations that didn’t exist back when the house was built. Terry’s plan involved lifting the structure and setting it on a slab. “In this climate, slabs must be supported by frost walls, foundation walls that carry the weight that they support down to a level of the earth that is not affected by freezing temperatures,” he explains. “We had to design, structurally, for conditions that include a tidal surge and winds of a high velocity—simultaneously. This foundation is strong enough to protect the entire city of New Orleans. The Army Corps of Engineers would take their hats off.”
The basement level became the home’s first floor and now holds a family room, a study, a bathroom and a bedroom. The second level holds the living spaces—dining and living rooms, kitchen, another family room—as well as the couple’s daughter’s bedroom. The third floor belongs to Sandy and David alone, with its spacious master bedroom and bath.
The first-floor family room opens onto a large covered porch with interior walls and pillars clad in stone. The stone mimics the Stony Creek granite walls that line the lawn at the water’s edge and anchors the house firmly to the lot. “The ground floor is basically a stone pedestal for a two-story house,” Terry explains. “We sort of hid the ground floor behind the porch.”
At the front of the house, a walkway leads from the driveway to the front door—which opens to the second level of the house—via a gentle rise up wide stone steps bordered by welcoming landscaping.
Both inside and out, clients and architect sought to balance the traditional with the contemporary. Shingles, stone, multiple gables and white trim give the exterior a classic look. Windows, though, have fewer panes than a traditional house would have. “I wanted lots of light,” Sandy says. “I wanted windows everywhere—not mullioned windows but not too contemporary. My main requirement was lots of light.”
For the main living area, Sandy and Terry struck the balance by creating an open floor plan embellished with pilasters and ceiling beams that define spaces and add a classic touch. “I wanted it to be open but cozy,” Sandy says.
Most of the space is painted white, but Sandy took advantage of the minimal wall space, painting it a soft sky-blue in some places and covering it with grasscloth in others. “Because it’s so open and has so many views, I didn’t want too much color,” she says. “It needed to flow. Too much color would bombard you with sensory overload. I wanted it to be soothing and calming.”
Sandy filled the space with furniture and accessories that run the gamut from contemporary to antique to somewhere in between. Sleek dining chairs covered in beige linen surround a table composed of a slab of oxidized zinc nailed to an old trestle. An antique dentist’s cabinet she found in Paris sits next to a clean-lined sofa in the living room. And in the stair hall a wet bar crafted of old barn floorboards has cabinet doors made from a set of antique diamond-paned leaded-glass windows Sandy had been saving for just the right use.
When she’s not helping people design their living spaces, Sandy designs jewelry that she sells at her Branford shop, Crowning Glory. Her house is a reflection of her design sensibilities in every area. “Everything—what I wear, my jewelry, what I surround myself with—I like it all to have a little age, a history,” she says.
Their new home is everything the Goodkinds hoped for. “In the winter, there’s nothing like looking out to the islands covered in snow,” Sandy says. “They look like little marshmallows plopped in the water.”
Then of course, there’s spring and summer when the gardens are in full bloom, and autumn when both trees and water glisten golden. “With Tony’s help, I think we got it right,” says Sandy. “I walk around every day saying, ‘I love my house.’ ”
Architecture: Anthony Terry, Terry Architecture
Interior design: Sandra Goodkind
Landscape design: Rick Bette, South Wind Consulting
Builder: Al Rose Construction