Thoughtful design cleverly connects a family’s home with its lovely surroundings
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The buyers were in a hurry. Needing to find a home for their family and nearly full-term with their third child, the wife was shown a place on a quiet road in New Canaan. The Silvermine River flowed through a pond at the back of the property and the lot’s topography was fairly level, making most of it usable for outdoor play. Since the family loves swimming, canoeing and being outside, the location was appealing.
“I didn’t like the house,” the wife recalls. “It was built on spec and was pretty unremarkable. But the site was good, and I figured we could make it better once we lived in it for a while.” So the family moved in, a few years passed and the couple began to think about how to improve the house and make it work for their active lifestyle. Originally from the South and fond of outdoor entertaining, the wife wanted to make better use of the lovely setting and to connect the house with its surroundings. She called in architect James Schettino, who designed a deep, wraparound porch and enlarged openings from the public rooms. A new shape and function emerged. “My children used to call it the pointy house,” says the wife, referring to the gables and dormers. But as builder Paul Tully constructed Schettino’s design, the porch put all the angles in visual balance within the home’s new and larger footprint. The possibilities of a formerly generic design began to reveal themselves.
Then came the task of outfitting the outdoor spaces with furnishings and fixtures that would enhance it. The wife had become friends with many of her neighbors, including designer Tori Legge, so her next step was a logical one. “I really loved what Tori did with her own house,” recalls the homeowner. “So, I asked her for some help with ours.” Legge, who grew up in California and has an understanding of spaces that flow easily from interior to exterior, went to work. First, she furnished the porch with all the amenities and creature comforts that serve its function in the warmer months as a place to relax and entertain. A full outdoor kitchen with a dining area, a wooden porch swing, a fireplace and two-staircase access to the pool are all accommodated by the vast covered space, creating a flowing transition from the inside to the outside.