Classic Cool


What can you tell me about the clients? They’re a young couple with a family, and they both work. The wife called me, and we immediately clicked. We had a great rapport with each other, and I really understood what they wanted. I think that is such an important part of design; it’s really a collaborative art form. They were so wonderful and such a pleasure to work with.

How would you describe the architecture of the home? It’s in a beautiful spot in Darien. It’s a Shingle-style home with an open floor plan, and the kitchen, mudroom and eat-in area flow directly into the family room. It’s a really well-designed home, and the flow is perfect. It’s classic on the outside with a more contemporary layout, and it was really well done.

Since this project was a redecoration, what did the interiors look like at the beginning? The clients had moved from a completely different environment. What they had was great, but it was from a previous time, place and architectural style, and it had a completely different vibe. You can’t show up to a black-tie event in a pair of cut-offs, or go to a pool party in a ball gown. Anyone who hires an interior designer really appreciates having a beautiful environment to live in, and I believe that there are rules. The architecture and interior design need to go hand in hand.

What vibe did you help the clients create? It’s a beautiful Connecticut, young, hip but still classic, vibe. Like the black chairs flanking the family room fireplace—those are based on seventeenth-century fireside chairs, and they’re shaped that way because people would sit near the fireplace, and the curve around the head, the height and the proportion would help keep people warm. What’s great about these chairs is that they’re interesting, they look sculptural, but they’re also kid-friendly. Because the scale of the rooms was so large, the back living space was an interesting thing to conquer. We had to break it up like a salon environment. It’s hard to get the flow, to not overdo it or underdo it. I like a well-edited place, but not a cold one. You want it to reflect back on the clients and what feels good to them, and to pick up on the colorways that work for them.

What colorways spoke to these clients? We wanted a very relaxed understated elegance with pops of warmer and cooler tones. It was a mix, and different colors were appropriate for different rooms. I have a strong background in art, art history and the history of furniture, textiles and fabrications. It came together in a really light-handed way for these clients, and there’s a mix of many different centuries and periods.

How did you approach the entry to the home? That was really fun. We wanted it simple but impactful. It’s not a huge entry, it’s very high-end and very welcoming, but the space needed to have a balance to it. I like the installation of the light fixtures—I chose a lantern, but a more modern interpretation of a lantern, because it’s classic to Connecticut. I was on-site during the installation, and I was there saying, “An inch higher, an inch lower,” and it became a sculptural element in the room. With a long, high space, you can’t forget that the second floor is part of the space that needs to be designed. And while they’re classic Connecticut lanterns, we did it differently and hung them at different heights. There is a large silver mirror that reflects the light outside, and the Moroccan furniture, modern artwork and some of the Venetian glass from their honeymoon are elements that reflect who the clients are.

Off to the left, there’s a room with pops of teal—it’s so pretty! That’s what we would consider the formal living room. It’s not a huge room, and it’s right off the hallway, so it had to flow into that. I wanted to create a moment in there, so I did four corner chairs based on an eighteenth- century Chesterfield design but reinterpreted into a new classic shape. This client liked to keep things simple and classic, like a little black dress. She wanted gray and silver tones, and we added the pop with the teal. We then picked the artwork and all of the objects on the shelves. The shelves were really hard—aquiring all of the things that were sentimental to the clients, and having a pleasing aesthetic, was like creating a visual piece of artwork.

On the other side is the dining room. Tell me about this space. I really love how this room came out. The fabric on the chairs was a good call. I loved the artwork we chose as well as the rug and the curtains. It all creates a mood. There are so many different elements mixed together, so many different centuries, and I feel like it’s very fresh, young and not out-of-the-box; it’s very personal. I like to choose objects—not a lot— that have gravitas and some meaning to them. Every piece was a very specific choice.

How did you handle the open living space in the back? What is so wonderful about this whole area is the way the family engages back there. While the entire house is an open floor plan, it doesn’t feel overwhelming or cold or not addressed. What I love about these spaces are the materials chosen and the mix. There’s an airiness to everything, and it’s all usable. I’ve seen the clients and their children come home and sit around the kitchen table and do homework, and then the kids move into the family room with the Yves Saint Laurent photograph and the touches of green. It’s a very serene space with bursts of color, and it just feels dreamy. It’s really relaxed, and it feels good when you walk in there. That’s the hardest part about making these very large, open spaces feel intimate and have moments within them. Each entity needed to function on its own yet still have a relationship with the others. As you move from space to space within the larger space, there are interior moments that are functional and private and say something different.

I love those stools in the kitchen. They’re an Italian design, and the fabrication is leather with stainless-steel footrests. The design is based on a French chair design but done in a different point of view. There’s a continuity between that design and the design in the dining room, and the shape, size and back height of the chairs are not only comfortable and functional, but the backsides are mimicked in the gentle curve of the hood over the stove. It’s a flow of energy in what could be a cold, white-and-gray kitchen. You can see how that shape is carried through in the graceful lines of the Shaker-style Windsor chairs around the kitchen table. There’s a language between every little detail.

How did you select the furnishings for the family room? The sofa is low, long and deep, and the chairs on either side can be moved and can swivel one way or the other. There’s plenty of room on the sofa, and there are a couple of poufs and a couple of other chairs. There’s plenty of seating for everyone, including the kids and the dog. I really love the softness in here and the hits of color. It’s just livable and elegant.

Who is working in the office? The husband is using the office right now. The desk is from Donghia, the fabric on the curtains is very luxe, and the Alexander McQueen rug is like a piece of artwork. You can use that rug in this room because it’s a small space, and it won’t get a lot of wear and tear.

The master bedroom has an ethereal quality to it. What I love about this space is that I like to incorporate wallpaper whenever I can, and this English wallpaper, this “floating on a cloud” look, is just dreamy; it has a romantic quality to it. And with the settee, everyone is doing that pink, and this tea rose color was really hard to find—it’s a sophisticated pink. At night, when the lights are dim, the little bits of shimmer and reflective elements in here are like candlelight in the room. I love to add elements with some history to them, and the leopard on the chair is a beautiful tapestry-like fabric, done on a midcentury profile. The leopard pattern is over a hundred years old, and that’s where the history of design comes in.

How would you sum up this project? I think the dining room says it very well—it’s youthful and cool but classic. From the artwork to the furniture, it’s educated and well-informed. I love incorporating street art, black-and-white photography, French design, antiques, fine rugs, hand-hammered objects. I love how everything comes together to make a young family home. But it’s never about the objects for me—it’s about creating an overall experience. That’s a very core statement for me.

Interior designer: Lynne Scalo Design, Greenwich; 203-222-4991;

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