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September 2007


FEATURES

One for the Ages
by Diane di Costanzo
photographs by Chi Chi Ubiña

DESIGNER DIANA SAWICKI HELPS A WESTPORT FAMILY CREATE A FLEXIBLE "FOREVER" HOUSE BUILT TO ENDURE AND DELIGHT FOR GENERATIONS

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Architects speak lovingly of "forever" houses built to suit a family so specifically that they can be treasured for generations. A forever house must transcend trends, and along Connecticut's coastline, it must be substantial enough to withstand summer squalls, frigid Nor'easters and year-round, gale-force winds laced with salt.

Three years ago, Diana Sawicki was tapped to help a Westport family build "the house they want to live in for a very long time," recalls the interior designer, also based in Westport, who led the couple through the process of selecting an architect and builder. Sawicki had decorated the family's existing home, so she knew intimately her clients' possessions and predilections: the place of prominence that must be given to the piano; the daughter's favorite color (pink); the fact that the lady of the house is left-handed, prompting the dishwasher to be sited to the left of the kitchen sink.

First and foremost, Sawicki knew that the couple required quality—but not the easy prestige conferred by luxury brand-name appliances and furnishings. "They wanted a house of substance," says Sawicki, who holds up a finger as she steps into the house. Silence. And that quiet is the sound of quality: hurricane-proof glass in the windows; solid walnut floorboards; thick, white marble throughout; slate, stone, copper and cedar used in its construction.

Here is a house for the ages, but credit Sawicki for designing rooms that don't look like museum pieces. In fact, on an average day, with three children at play, what's truly striking is the home's fresh, family-friendly appeal. The designer helped the couple evolve their style from traditional—Aubusson rugs, silk damask upholstery—to a clean, modern look that melds with the seascape out every window.

ENJOY GREAT DESIGN

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