A Modern Family Home in Greenwich

July 20, 2020

Text by Marni Elyse Katz    Photography by Jane Beiles

Jim Gardiner builds precisely and pristinely. “I create a canvas for the owners and designers,” he says. “I love to see their vision especially when they take risks with the design.” The Schurs, a young family of four who purchased a modern farmhouse in Greenwich from Gardiner’s firm, CLT Development, most certainly did. Interior designer Kimberly Handler, whose own homes Jessica Schur describes as “magical and enchanting,” made it happen.

With two kids, Schur stressed that every room have a purpose and none be “no-touch.” But practicality and warmth would not be enough. She also insisted on fun. Handler responded by creating neutral backdrops upon which she imposed drama. “I like to mix modern with traditional,” she says. “Each room has an unexpected twist.”

Handler often uses color to invigorate a scheme. In the entry, a repurposed chest got a zippy makeover with an amped-up shade of blue pulled from the animal-print runner on the stairs. The rug itself, a departure from Schur’s usual taste, also infuses fun. “I’m not an animal-print person, but I love the abstract pattern of this rug,” she says.

Chartreuse is the star in the lounge. Acid-green grasscloth backs the bookshelves, adding depth to the monochromatic space. “There was a lot of gray in here,” Handler says. The custom-lacquered backgammon table from Oomph is another hit of the hue. “Jessica’s husband didn’t care what color it was, as long as he had a table, so everyone was happy,” the designer says.

Pattern plays a primary role for zhuzhing up the dining room. “On first impression, the room reads very neutral; nothing seems wild,” Handler says. Until you step in and gaze upwards. Handler lined the ceiling with raffia wallcovering in an eggplant-and-gray chevron. Double chandeliers heighten the effect. “You don’t initially notice that there are two—you need to look up for the excitement,” she says.

Vintage furnishings are a quieter but key ingredient. The klismos dining chairs, reupholstered in crocodile-stamped aubergine velvet, create a staunch tension around the minimalist burlwood table. Upstairs in the main bath, an antique curule bench adds softness and age against the highly polished marble floor. And in the guest room, pieces with French country appeal are a foil for punchy mod drapes. “I love nothing more than bringing in vintage pieces,” Handler says. “It could be something from the 1950s or a Chinese antique. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s different.”

Contrasting materials also make effective juxtapositions. In the main bedroom, a gilded pendant offers statement-making glam compared to the sweater-like wool rug and homey rattan dresser repainted powder blue. Throughout the house, brass hardware elevates traditional tableaus to downright sexy. Without it, the classic white kitchen would be just that—a classic white kitchen. Handler pushes it even further by adding acrylic counter stools for a midcentury-meets-Hollywood-Regency flair.

Schur collaborated with Handler at every turn. “I’d tell her, ‘I have a crazy idea,” the designer recalls. “Jess would look at me like I was nuts, and then say, ‘I love it!’ ”

Interior design: Kimberly Handler, Kimberly Handler Designs
Architecture: Marc G. Andre, Marc G. Andre Architects
Builder: Jim Gardiner, CLT Development


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