Weston home serves as canvas for creativity
The seemingly endless choices for fabrics, furnishings, colors and paintings and how and where to position them can make a homeowner dizzy. And this is just for one room, let alone the entire home.
But before putting up the white flag, throwing back a pill and falling back into that out-dated sofa seat, you may want to take a drive to 44 Ridge Road in Weston, where more than a dozen of the finest interior designers from the region have put their prowess to practice for the public's viewing pleasure -- and perhaps to inspire ideas for interior makeovers.
The Weston Designer Show House, the brainchild of Franco Grimaldi, opened Tuesday and runs through Nov. 1. Sponsored by Hearst Connecticut Media Group, the parent company of the Darien News, the show house is also a fund-raiser for the Connecticut Humane Society's Companion Animal Sanctuary program, which provides animals with a comfortable place to live until a permanent home is found.
Situated on a quiet, stonewall-lined street minutes from the Merritt Parkway, the 9,000-square-foot home was designed by Stephen Fuller and built by Euro Classic Construction. For the last few weeks, the interior designers have been working diligently to create their masterpieces -- each given a room to transform in a style that represents their talent and taste. The masterpiece is now complete.
"It's a wonderful house. What the designers did was make it a home," Grimaldi said, sitting on a couch that faces a fireplace in a nook off the spacious kitchen. "They've all put forth so beautifully."
Grimaldi speaks from experience. This is his 22nd show house and many of the designers have worked with him at previous locations.
A three-dimensional exhibit
Upon stepping foot into the grand entrance of the home, one is greeted by striking architectural detail and symmetry. A series of columns provide a sense of strength and support to the space. Splashes of color from throw pillows, paintings and furnishings add life and comfort to the living room.
Designed by George Snead and Chris Gulotta of The Wakefield Design Group, the living room is both functional and elegant. This, of course, was no accident. The two sought to create a comfortable space that encourages casual living. To bring color and balance to the room, which is painted in a fairly neutral tone, they reupholstered two high-back sofas with fabric that features random circles of marigold velvet.
"Every room needs to have some whimsy," Snead said. "It's all about the balance, even with color."
With more than 20 years experience, The Wakefield Design Group began specializing in home makeovers about 13 years ago, before the popular television show turned it into a trend. They still get a tremendous sense of joy from their work.
"It's immediate gratification for everyone," Snead said.
This is the third show they've worked on with Grimaldi. They returned not only to work with him and for the opportunity to showcase their work, but also to support the Connecticut Humane Society. "Really, that's one of the main reasons we got involved," said Snead, who owns two Westies.
A few steps from the living room is the "den of decadence." This library space is far from a traditional reading room -- think of a dark paneled library and picture the exact opposite.
"I was trying to create something that was dreamy," said Tiffany Eastman, who recently relocated her office from Westchester County to Stamford. "I wanted to try and encapsulate what today's library should feel like."
And so, the walls are dressed with white sheers and the geometric shapes in an area rug are mirrored on the ceiling through the plaster craftsmanship of Euclides Pagan, president of Architectural Sculpture and Restoration, Inc., based in Brooklyn, N.Y. The library incorporates an eclectic mix of styles, from traditional d�cor on to Chinese-inspired aesthetics, that all come together to create a coherent theme. One can easily walk in, pick up a book off the shelf, lay on the couch and drift away in the pages of a novel.
"I think design is taking a clearer direction ... a higher level of sophistication," said Eastman, who has been in the business for 12 years.
The master bedroom
Just down the hall on the first-floor is the master bedroom, which was designed by Jennifer Owen of Designs by Jennifer, LLC.
In designing the spacious room, Owen said she sought to create a place that was "Zen-like, peaceful and something that you can really move into."
"I tend to stick to simple elegance in my design," said Owen, as she discussed the materials and methodology she used in the makeover.
"I felt that the space needed to be transformed into a soothing retreat," she said. "And although I utilized soft, serene colors such as taupe and cocoa brown, celadon green, soft blue and ivory, I've also introduced artwork, fabrics and furnishings that bring vitality and life into the room as well."
She was also responsible for designing the master bathroom, which has a jacuzzi tub in the center of the space and gets terrific natural light through an imitation stained-glass window. The bathroom also features his and her closets, as well as toilets and sinks. The ceiling is a pastel blue.
"I don't like white ceilings," said Owen. "They're just so stark."
Asked what a touch of color can do to a ceiling, Owen replied: "It just warms the space amazingly."
Grimaldi said the master bedroom and the kitchen are the two most popular spaces in a home. Asked why that is, he replied: "Because that's where they spend the most time."
The kitchen was designed by Trevor LaMarche of Westport-based Lux Bond & Green. In a brochure, he writes: "As you enter this beautiful home's kitchen, with the light streaming through the palladium windows, carved cabinetry and warm taupe colored granite, you immediately have a feeling of warmth and family."
Artwork is a unifying element through the home, including through a series of large, modern pieces that adorn the walls as one walks up to the second floor -- this transitions nicely into a nearby room that serves as an art gallery.
While artwork is not a major component in "La Salonetta" and its adjoining bath, the design created in the room is very much a work of art. Siegfried Kropf and his son, Patrick, teamed up with Euclides Pagan and Peter Jonas to transport people back in time -- to 19th century France to be exact.
One of the most compelling aspects of the room is the intricately designed plaster moldings, which are Pagan's specialty. "It's definitely a room that needs to be seen," Patrick Kropf said, as he explained the laborious process of creating and painting the moldings to create just the right look and feel. The baseboards were equally exhaustive in the amount of work required to make the existing wood look like marble. Hours of painting, at times with feathers, truly transformed the wood baseboards into an elegant and classy finishing touch, complimenting the colors and feel of the rest of the room. "We're not stuck in the 19th century," Patrick Kropf said, with a smile, noting how their New York-based firm creates modern designs, too.
"It's a craft that got lost after World War II," Pagan said of plaster moldings and detailed craftsmanship.
He moved to the United States from Puerto Rico when he was in his 20s -- in the 1970s. It was then, while Pagan was teaching, that he pursued his passion. He found a masterfully crafted molding and learned that it was manufactured in Brooklyn, N.Y. He went to the factory to check it out and spoke to the owner. "I was so fascinated that he gave me a part-time job," Pagan said.
The owners eventually retired and Pagan bought them out. He now employs a dozen guys. "I love to do things with my hands," he said.
Public tours are open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at the door. Design lectures will take place every Wednesday at noon. Children under 6 will not be admitted. Mapping programs may prove unreliable, so it is advised to call for directions.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 239-4817 or visit www.WestonDesignerShowHouse.com.
The Weston show house is presently available for purchase. Inquiries may be directed to Stephanie Smith of the Wilton Prudential office at 762-8831.