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March 2010


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Artistic License
By Annette M. Rose-Shapiro
Photographs by Keith Scott Morton

A HOUSE HIDDEN IN THE WOODS BECOMES A PEACEFUL HAVEN FOR INDOOR/OUTDOOR LIVING AND ENTERTAINING, WITH NEUTRAL TONES, AMPLE GLASS AND LARGE-SCALE ART

Click on any photo for a larger gallery view.

[Image]
PEACEFUL HAVEN
(click photo for larger view)

Five years ago, interior designer Mar Silver became enchanted with a small house on an overgrown wooded property near her Westport home. The 1810 Colonial had good bones and large rooms, and although it had an oddly placed entrance, Silver had just the vision that would transform it into something special.

Before purchasing the house, Silver and architect André Tchelistcheff did a walk-through and measured all the rooms. Back in Tchelistcheff's NYC studio, the pair began working on a series of sketches. "I'm always inspired by vacation homes," says Silver, whose interiors firm is based in Westport. "It was important to me to build a house and create an environment that made me feel like I was on holiday every day." She wanted a home built for frequent entertaining, inside and out.

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HIGHS AND LOWS
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After some back and forth on the subject, Tchelistcheff proposed increasing the interior square footage, but he wanted to ensure that the size of the rooms in the additions would marry well proportionally with those in the original house. And Silver wanted these very large rooms to flow into each other easily. As a solution, Tchelistcheff designed two separate structures that would connect to the main house with glass skylights and bridges, bringing in more light and creating a seamless transition between the rooms. The architect wanted to add only minimal amounts of Colonial-style embellishment to the home's exterior. "The result is modernism that isn't stark," he says. "But it's not displaced in the community."

Respect for the land was also foremost on Silver's mind. "The house is unique in that it's integrated with the topography," she explains. During the process, she used nature as her guide and the grading to her advantage. "As you walk the grounds, there are changes in elevation and the structures were created to harmonize with the landscape." Unhappy with the original entrance siting, she relocated it so that one enters the property, which has views of the Sound, at the back of the house rather than the front.

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SOMETHING'S COOKIN'
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Inside, Silver chose a neutral palette with lots of texture. "I like a neutral but textural palette with soft shifts in color so that we see the house as a whole, not as separate environments," she says. The flooring throughout the house is unfinished reclaimed French oak. Central to Silver's design philosophy is the presence of artwork throughout the home; there's a mother-and-child painting above the bed in the master suite, a striking photo of a young Brigitte Bardot in the foyer and a metal sculpture above the dining room fireplace, among others. "The emphasis remains on the large-scale art, as I keep the furnishings and vintage pieces quiet, with subtle and interesting lines, she says.

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