The New Old House
October 26, 2022
A historic home in the heart of town makes the perfect retirement condo for a Ridgefield, Connecticut, couple.
Text by Paula M. Bodah Photography by Kyle Caldwell
Downsizing often means moving from a house to a condominium, and in fact, that’s just what Karen and Richard Calo did. It just so happens that their condo is a 4,200-square-foot house built in 1760 and
situated in the very heart of Ridgefield’s town center.
From 1799 to well into this century, the house operated as tavern or restaurant in some form. A decade ago, the property’s owners converted the site’s several buildings into a condominium community, with the original old dwelling—now restored to a single-family home—as its centerpiece.
“When we talked about a condo, we knew we didn’t want something cookie-cutter,” Karen Calo says. “We wanted something unique. When this came on the market, it just felt right.”
The house had been respectfully and beautifully restored, so making it the couple’s own meant just modifying a few things in the layout and introducing furniture, colors, and materials that suited them. For the former, the two enlisted Chris Shea of Domus Constructors. For the latter they called on a longtime collaborator and friend, interior designer Patti Watson of Taste Design.
Shea reworked the basement level to turn storage spaces into usable living space, including adding a powder room. Elsewhere he collaborated with Watson on tweaks like additional cabinetry, new fireplace surrounds, and the couple’s luxurious new bathroom. “It was great to work with the Calos and Patti to bring this beautiful project together,” he says.
In a historic house, where ceilings are low and rooms are small, scale can be a challenge. Watson worked with the petite scale by employing a subtle palette of neutrals and soft blues and greens that flow easily across the first-floor living spaces. Furniture keeps a low profile. In the living room, for instance, the sofa has a low back and the chairs flanking the fireplace have a longer leg for an airier feel. To generate interest, the designer says,
“We leaned on texture to create the varied compositions.”
Watson says the house suits the Calos perfectly. “It puts them right in the center of the town they love,” she says. “They can walk to shops, host friends on the front porch. It’s a perfect place to start retired life, and we got to create a house that supports this chapter. It was such a joy.”