Romance of the Stone
November 18, 2012
Text by Paula M. Bodah Photography by Robert Benson
If a glimpse of this stately Tudor-style house puts you in mind of Newport’s Gilded Age, the couple who live here wouldn’t be surprised. In fact, that’s just what they were aiming for. Not the unabashedly opulent “cottages” like Marble House or the Breakers, mind you, but rather the quietly grand homes built by yesteryear’s more modest captains of industry.
Rising from its perch on a mountaintop overlooking the Farmington Valley, the three-story stone-and-brick house with its turret, dual chimneys and multiple rooflines would look right at home on turn-of-the-twentieth-century Bellevue Avenue. Inside, though, it becomes clear this gracious home was designed for modern-day living. The high-ceilinged rooms flow one into the other for the open feeling favored by today’s families. There’s not a dark, drafty corner to be found; sunlight spills through every window, and each room offers a view to the valley or the home’s own beautifully landscaped seven acres.
All this airy brightness comes from the design devised by Farmington architect Jack Kemper and interior designer Anthony Como of Luxe Interiors in New Rochelle, New York. Along with the homeowners, the two worked as a team from the very beginning of the project. “We spent about six months designing the house,” Como recalls. “We had meetings every single week.”
The first challenge lay in granting the clients’ wishes for a home with all the grandeur and romance—but none of the gloomy reality—of Newport’s English-inspired stone manor houses that so charmed them. “I wanted to bring the outside in,” the wife says. “I wanted lots of light and cross ventilation.”
The solution took the form of a long, slender design that lines the rooms up along the property’s north-south axis and lets light and air flow east to west through them. “The plan is laid out so every room has a view,” Kemper notes. In front, the tall turret and its bank of high windows, a copper-roofed bay window and a series of slim dormers in the roof pull in the eastern light. In back, three bay windows reach out to welcome the afternoon light and show off vistas of the valley.