At Home with Designer Cassandra Byrnes
July 26, 2023
One designer’s ultimate meet-cute leads to a stylish summer retreat.
Text by Kathryn O’Shea-Evans Photography by Photography by Amy Vischio. Portrait by Andrea Carson.
When Cassandra Byrnes first began working on her new client’s summer home in coastal Niantic, she had no idea it would one day be her home, too. The owner—Chris Lafond—had enlisted the designer, known for her comfortable yet elegant interiors, to work with him on his newly built abode on Long Island Sound, in the same area where he’d spent his childhood summers.
Like a backdrop from a Nicholas Sparks novel, the locale provided a picturesque spot to fall in love…and soon enough, they did. “It’s this beautiful piece of property on a cove that looks across Niantic Bay with almost 360-degree views,” Byrnes says. “You can see the water from almost every room.”
A simpatico appreciation for aesthetics aided the couple’s instant chemistry. “He has a wonderful eye for architecture and was this really great client,” Byrnes says. “We started on the project, and it was seamless, and really went from there….” Now, the home they designed together is a welcoming respite of soft, sandy neutrals and bay blues that often plays host to getaways for their blended family. (The couple married about a year ago in Florida and has four children between them.) And their timeless summer retreat is sure to wow for generations. “It is a sophisticated beach house, but it’s also an interesting mix of transitional and traditional,” she says.
It was important for Byrnes to source locally made curios and shop in regional boutiques to give the space a true sense of place. “You can achieve sophistication and elegance and also have it be comfortable, especially in a home like this,” she says.
And comfort is truly key in a residence that “swells with people on the weekends,” Byrnes says. “We go from two people during the week to, on any given weekend, fourteen—when our grown children bring their friends. And I think the memories just keep being created as our children grow and we enjoy them as adults.” In other words, they all lived happily ever after.