January 9, 2013
Text by Erin Marvin Photography by John Gould Bessler Produced by Stacy Kunstel
The stone and wood facade of this stately home may acquiesce to the architectural style of its nearby neighbors, but on the inside it has a modern spirit all its own.
When Kate and Daryle DiLascia purchased this property in Greenwich it was for location alone. They liked both the private county club community that envelops the house and this particular site’s adjacency to a beautiful lake, which would pull double duty as a spectacular backdrop and a place for their children to enjoy hours of outdoor entertainment. The original house—small, bland, brick—had good bones but needed a facelift and additional space to accommodate the young family. The DiLascias reached out to Ridgefield architect Doug MacMillan for help, asking him to renovate and rebuild the structure to its fullest potential.
MacMillan and his team took the house down to its studs, saving the basic shell but opening up the kitchen, expanding the downstairs public areas and adding a screened-in sunroom and a two-car garage. Bedrooms were moved to the second floor, and all face the lake for panoramic views that promise sweet dreams and sunny mornings.
Throughout the house, floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors, as well as new skylights over the kitchen, bring in copious amounts of natural light. Though the original house rose up a dozen feet from street to front door, the DiLascias didn’t want the same “house on a pedestal” feeling. The design team renovated the surrounding topography, expanding and leveling the backyard and redoing the driveway to soften the appearance of the steep ascent. A grand new stone and wood veneer now faces the neighborhood.
Inside, interior designer Michelle Morgan Harrison, of the New Canaan–based firm Morgan Harrison Home, revamped the interiors with a decidedly modern flair. Kate, trained as a nurse, wanted things to be kept simple yet beautiful—not to mention easy to clean as she’s also the mother of three children under the age of twelve. Spaces suitable for easy entertaining was another important consideration as was—a somewhat more surprising request—a room to house a ping pong table. (Table tennis is one of the family’s favorite pastimes.)
Morgan Harrison, a former fashion editor for ELLE and Mirabella, turned to her roots to find inspiration for the interior palette, talking with Kate about her favorite colors when it comes to clothing. Kate’s penchant for white, cream, light blue and silver apparel—along with the occasional pop of yellow—is reflected in color choices. The overall calming palette has a definite “wow” factor, with crystal chandeliers, frosted glass, Lucite, mirrors and shiny silver chrome glittering throughout the house. “It just adds a lot of life to a room and ups the glamour factor in a really beautiful way,” says Morgan Harrison of her fondness for reflective surfaces.
The dining room, for example, is layer upon layer of sparkle and shine: a large starburst mirror hung on an antique mirrored wall; iridescent silver wallpaper peeking from beneath the luster of large-scale Asian artwork; the sheen of gray silk drapes topped with a valence accented by silver tape; gray mohair dining chairs whose hues change with the light; and chrome, crystal and glass accessories of all sizes catching and casting reflections around the room. When it comes to entertaining, the room is a definite crowd pleaser, and the custom round table can easily accommodate a dozen guests for dinner parties.
The living room is equally glamorous and inviting, with swaths of sunlight pouring through multiple windows and a large mirror over the fireplace reflecting the furniture’s soft cream, silver and blue hues. Plenty of seating options invite large gatherings, with a piano ready to host those musically inclined. Most evenings end in the adjacent game room, where a regulation size, etched-glass-topped ping pong table rests on chrome legs beneath twin chandeliers. “They’re really a fun, amazing family, and I think the house reflects that,” says Morgan Harrison. “They love entertaining and having fun together with friends and family.”
Family-friendliness reigns even in the midst of all this modern elegance, with textiles, surfaces and furnishings chosen for their wearability and wipeability: vinyl, highly durable velvets, Teflon-coated leather, resilient mohair chairs, washable sisal and wool rugs, and patterned carpet to hide the occasional stain.
Though Kate and Daryle favored serene, creamy hues for their master bedroom, the kids wanted color, and lots of it. The boys’ rooms are Jack and Jill, with headboard walls bedecked with wide stripes of blue and white in one room and brown, orange and white in the other. Bright greens and blues were chosen by the DiLascias’ daughter, and the guest room is oh-so-mod with gray and yellow hues in a mix of ikat and chevron patterns. Bedrooms are comfy and cozy and reflect each child’s style, but all boast a contemporary flair that matches the rest of the house.
Even in the kitchen—a sea of stark, cool white—nothing feels untouchable or too delicate for small hands. Morgan Harrison added small bursts of sunny yellow here, too, to warm things up. “The problem with modern is that is can be very bare and lack a lot of character,” the designer says. “That’s the reason for the pop of yellow—to liven it up a bit.”
Horizontal paneling wraps kitchen walls and joins the space to a small adjacent office, a cozy nook Kate loves. Interior millwork throughout the house also nods to a more contemporary aesthetic; MacMillan favored flat panel work, as opposed to raised panels, and cove crown molding with a simple, clean arc, rather than the ornate crown found in more traditional homes. “This house is an interesting blend,” notes MacMillan. “The outside is very traditional, but the inside trim work, millwork and decorating style has a modern flair.”
“It was a challenge to create that balance,” adds Morgan Harrison. “We came up with a very glamorous yet modern transitional look.”
Style labels aside, every element comes together perfectly to make this house a true classic beauty both inside and out.
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