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November 2009


Young at Heart
By Sarah Firshein
Photographs by Tim Lee


Click on any photo for a larger view.

GROWING UP (click photo for larger view)

A YOUNG, HIP COUPLE with two young children was at a crossroads when they stopped to think about how to furnish their home in Greenwich. On the one hand, being young and hip means long, wine-filled dinner parties that wend lazily into the wee hours of the morning. On the other hand, being parents means plastic toys strewn about the family room. The Shingle-style house designed by Wilton-based architect Joseph Cugno offered a compromise—wide hallways allow the owners to view multiple rooms at once and still enjoy each distinct space. Designer Sherrill Canet, Allied ASID, with offices in Nassau County and NYC, wove in a sprightly-yet-sophisticated plan with natural, organic forms, Asian elements and a mix of luxe and child-friendly surfaces.


Canet, a North Jersey native who lives in a 1919 historic home in Locust Valley, NY, is no stranger to coaxing a house's bones—or its owners, for that matter—into full bloom. A dealer herself, she believes antiques live their best-fulfilled life when in the company of upbeat colors and contemporary pieces. "If you had a roomful of old period pieces, it's not that interesting," she says. "When you can take traditional style into the next genre and update it a little bit so it doesn't look like Grandma's house—that's the creative part."

Such was the process here. When the owners first met with Canet they were set on a more conservative approach. Canet pointed out that as they were still a young couple, there was no need to design a house too traditionally. "She said that we should be able to enjoy our youth, and she interspersed a few elements in the house that reflect that. She got us to have fun and take more risks," the wife recalls. As for the zebra-stripe carpet that now runs from the entryway up the main staircase: "I almost fell out of my chair, but after Sherrill got us to sit and think about it, we fell in love with it," she adds, laughing.


Canet saw her clients' tastes evolve as the project drew on. "She didn't know it, but she had a contemporary eye," Canet says of the wife. "It's always fun to work with someone with a fresh eye and a little courage to keeps things bright, colorful and transitional." The couple was taken with weathered, organic forms and shapes—bamboo chairs and vine-print window panels in the breakfast room, a rusticated bamboo-stick wall covering in the dining room and bamboo-legged consoles in the living room.

As the clients didn't transport any artwork from their previous home, Canet found the palette apt for Asian accent pieces of all media and scales. The motif appears, among other places, as a trio of framed-paper wall panels and vintage Chinese lamps in the dining room, as well as in all the bamboo elements. "I love a little Asian influence," says Canet. "Unless the client really has an aversion to it, I seem to put it in every room. Whether it's porcelain or furniture or accessories, I think it's a really nice touch."

DELIGHTFUL, DELOVELY (click photo for larger view)

Child-friendly materials such as indoor-outdoor fabrics and ultrasuede allow this home to be hands-on in certain spaces; luxurious adornments to the more formal "adult" spaces create drama and depth. "They wanted a very child-friendly house, but she was also very interested in having it be elegant enough for adult gatherings and entertaining," Canet says. In the living room, silks and mohair velvets abound above sisal flooring, églomisé mirrors and a slick combo of satin, corduroy silks and horse hair. The dining room, which Canet calls "architecturally fantastic," features a grasscloth wallpaper with bamboo woven into it and a French gilded chandelier from the 1920s. "When I'm entertaining in my living room or dining room, I feel like a real grownup," says the wife. "And when we're in the family room running around having fun, it's so livable."


Of the master bedroom, she adds: "When I turn to our bedroom, I feel like I'm in a villa in Italy. It's just stunning." In that room, a greenish-gray damask wall covering from Brunschwig & Fils is subtly antiqued, and an antique mirrored dresser holds court against one wall. Neutral Roman shades from Summer Hill, as well as an upholstered headboard and sweeping overhead chandelier, make the space sweet and romantic.

Down the hall, there's a guest room painted bright yellow with Osborne & Little botanical-print Roman shades and coordinating slipper-chair upholstery. It embodies the spirit of the home overall: "Something traditional, something contemporary, something youthful, all with a mix of colorful and cheerful and adorable," says Canet. "I'm getting ready to paint my living room—I may just go for that marigold."