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January 2007


FEATURES

Ancient Mariner
By Stephen Henderson
Photographs by Aimee Herring
Styled by Steven Autry

A VENERABLE SEASIDE HOME IN GREENWICH STILL SEDUCES ITS INTERIOR DESIGNER

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Most decorators are like Casanova. They can fall passionately in love with the houses they design, yet are fickle enough to walk away once it's over. Certain projects may linger in the memory, though, such as a house in Belle Haven for which designer Cindy Rinfret still carries a torch.

Thought to be a late-19th-century design by Stanford White, the house, which offers breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound, immediately dazzled Rinfret when she first saw it on the Antiquarius House Tour several years ago. In fact, it sits high enough on a strip of land jutting out into the water that sailors have long used it as a navigational landmark. "It's a drop-dead location. I just stood there gazing and thinking that this was the greatest place," Rinfret says. A few years later, in 2004, "the phone rang, and a client from my store had bought the house and wanted me to help pull it all together."

The client, founder and owner of the Go Figure fitness studios, is not only a customer of Rinfret's Home & Garden shop on Greenwich Avenue but has long purchased antiques from around the world. When she was a young woman living in New York, her mentor was the esteemed society decorator Sister Parish.

Over the years the homeowner has amassed an enormous quantity of tableware, chinoiserie furniture, and artwork that celebrates the female form. She's collected houses, too. Along with her investor husband and two children, a teenaged girl and boy, she's moved between several of Greenwich's most esteemed residences before ending up in Belle Haven.

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