INTERVIEW WITH CAMI FARERI LUPPINO & ALANA IRWIN, LULU HOME | PHOTOGRAPHER JANE BEILES
These are clients you’ve worked with before, right?
Cami Fareri Luppino: Yes—the clients are Bruce and Hilary Murray, and they’re wonderful people and great to work with. Bruce is a SiriusXM NFL Radio host, and Hilary is a luxury travel advisor. They have three boys and two dogs, and we had designed their previous home in Chappaqua. Very sadly, they had a devastating house fire and lost all of their belongings. They never had intentions of moving, but as a result of losing their home, they found this new home in Greenwich built by an amazing builder, Jim Gardiner of CLT Development. They called us and said, “We think we found our home. Would you come look at it with us?” They then brought us on, and it was a very fast turnaround. From the moment we stepped inside the house for the first time to the moment we received their sign-off, we had all of our orders placed and everything set within three weeks. The house stayed as is, but we did go in with a cabinetmaker and outfitted a ton of custom built-ins. We also built out the entire basement.
What was their vision for their new home? CL: They wanted luxe, they wanted memorable, they wanted color, and they wanted some unexpected touches. Since we had worked with them in the past, Bruce and Hilary really trusted our vision, and with the timeline we were working with, it was helpful to be on the same visual page as them.
Alana Irwin: I would say the home is very luxe, but in a family-friendly way. For example, there is a grand leather chandelier in the dining room—it’s not glitzy, but it’s still impactful. The home is luxe without the glitz.
CL: It’s livable luxe.
AI: Cami and I looked at the bones of the house and what we thought would work best, and that’s what we presented to Bruce, Hilary and the boys on presentation day. We prayed that they would love it, and thankfully, they did!
Did you collaborate with other design professionals on this project?
CL: The builder was instrumental. Jim is such a yes man. We’d say, “Do you think it’s possible…,” and before we could finish our sentence, he would say, “Yes.” We felt as if we had all been working together for years, and we really functioned as a cohesive team. This was also the first project for Alana and me together as lulu HOME.
How did you arrive on the color palette? CL: There is a continuity in the various spaces, in the sense that the background colors all seamlessly flow from one space to the next. Each room required its own identity, in that we chose to implement a saturated color into each space, giving them all a different color vibe. The clients are drawn to blue, so that’s definitely a theme throughout, with a different hue of it found in each space.
AI: In the family room, we didn’t actually use that much color. We wanted this room to be more layered, neutral and quiet. We didn’t want it to be overpowering with color, but rather relaxing and calm. We think of it as “the Hamptons in Greenwich,” and the Phillip Jeffries grasscloth on the ceiling adds so much texture to the room. We used a lot more color in the bedrooms—we had a lot of fun and went mad with color up there.
The living and dining rooms flow into each other. How did you design these two? CL: I think the rooms are great counterbalances to one another. There are various structural components that repeat, like the texture and the shape and form of the upholstery fabric on the backs of the living room chairs, and we were very mindful about picking the drapery fabrics. Patterns repeating was important. We didn’t want the two rooms to conflict.
AI: When you’re in the dining room looking into the living room, you see the backs of the two chairs in the living room. We came up with the idea to use this structural, almost art-like fabric on the backs of the chairs, and that was the jumping-off point for the living room; we built the space around that. For the dining room, the focus is definitely the leather chandelier, and there is a beautiful gray putty color lacquered on the walls. The color is more in the living room, and there are more muted tones in the dining room. The star was the chandelier.
CL: We were strategic about keeping the dining room quieter, and to Alana’s point, the artwork is certainly the chandelier, so it was intentional that we didn’t include any other art.
AI: And both rooms are definitely being used—right after we installed, Bruce and Hilary had a party the following weekend!
I spy a blue banquette in the kitchen. What was the thought behind this?
CL: The window behind the banquette is on axis with the front door. From a usage and space-planning perspective, this area was a bit snug for a dining table. Because they’re a large family with kids coming and going, it was important to maintain an open flow from the foyer into the kitchen and between the kitchen and the family room. We designed the banquette to nestle into that corner to buy more circulation space.
How did the kitchen and family room influence the design of each other?
CL: As we mentioned, there is a reoccurring pop of blue in various shades in the house. We carried the blue into the family room in a more muted way, just in the artwork and pillows. If you’re in the family room looking into the kitchen, you see a sliver of the blue banquette, and there’s also a blue door that leads into the pantry. The pantry door is mimicked by the artwork in the family room. Given that they’re adjoining spaces, the layering in and continuity of color were purposeful.
What can you tell me about the master suite? AI: We started with the wallpaper, and we used the blue on the sofa to play off of that wallpaper. The nightstands are a shimmery grasscloth, the headboard is a dark gray, and the vanity in the master bath is a very dark blue. We wanted the master suite to be beautiful, serene and elegant, but not too feminine.
I see a room with a herringbone pattern behind the bed—whose is this?
CL: This is one of the sons’ bedrooms. He’s older, so we wanted to give him more of an adult room, yet fun for his age. It’s a rather tonal space, so again it was important that patterns repeat. There’s a grid-like form on the carpet that is carried up through the back wall with the wood herringbone pattern, and then we married that with the wallcovering in a similar pattern in the en suite bath. The room is restful on the eye even though it has a lot of big patterns. It’s very consistent.
AI: We didn’t want any blue in here, and we found that yellow art that we absolutely loved, and we inverted it. We played off of the pattern with the fabric on the Roman shades, and we introduced some citron with the pillows. The bedding is very quiet, the woodwork is quiet, and the carpet is quiet. The room has just a touch of color, but it’s memorable.
What about the room with the blue wallcovering? AI: This is a younger son’s bedroom, and he’s very into Legos. We wanted it to be a cool, in-your-face room, and he loved it. Everything about this room is just fun. We presented our designs to the boys just as we would to the adults, and none of the boys changed a thing, not even a pillow. At the end of the day, these are their rooms, and we wanted them to be happy.
Is there a space you love the most? CL: The dining room. It’s a marriage of everything I love about design. It has super impactful moments. I love a tonal interior. I love the texture of the chandelier. I love the materials, like the mohair on the chairs, the balance of the leather with the lacquer. It’s a thoughtful, layered space.
AI: She took my mine! [laughs] Cami and I finish each other’s sentences.
Any favorite moments on this project? AI: It goes back to the chandelier. It was the longest lead time we had waited for, and when the chandelier came, we were having such problems installing it. We were just holding our breath as they uncrated it. It was scary! [laughs]
CL: That chandelier was a hard sell for Hilary. But she believed in us, and she believed that if we felt so strongly about it, it would work out well.
AI: We definitely decided to go big or go home.
CL: Bruce and Hilary had not set foot in the house from the second they signed off on the designs until the day we revealed it to them after install. They were over the moon. It was so rewarding.
Interior designer: lulu HOME, Greenwich and Bedford, NY; 914-234-8684; luluhomedesign.com
Builder: Jim Gardiner, CLT Development; 646-256-3199
Architect: Marc G. Andre Architects, Fairfield; 203-979-0589; mgandregroup.com