CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) APRIL 2021

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HERE ARE TWO KINDS OF WINDOWS, both in evidence in this Westport traditional Colonial. There are, of course, the kind you see through, and then there is the window of opportunity, of which these homeowners and interior designer Michelle Hogue took full advantage. Although the planning for the redesign of the first floor of this house began prior to the pandemic, it wasn’t until all interiors—except our own—closed that the real work could begin inside this home. “We started demolition July 12, 2020,” recalls Hogue, “and by August 24, all was done.” Adds homeowner Lauren Nathan, “It was summer and we knew to seize the moment. My husband, Gil, and I had planned on sending our kids to camp, and when that couldn’t happen, we went ahead with the redesign. We spent our days living our ‘Wizard of Oz’ existence, going into and out of our basement,” she says, referencing those storm doors into which Dorothy’s family retreated when the tornado came. Hogue, who has offices in Westport, CT, and Santa Rosa Beach, FL, is unusual in the business in that she’s an interior designer and a licensed general


ctc&g cottagesgardens.com april 2021

contractor. “I believe strongly that the design process is as important as the implementation,” she says. “The shorter the distance between signing the contract and finishing the job, the happier the client and the happier my team.” Nathan sought Hogue’s help not because she was unhappy with the house she and her family had occupied since 2009, but rather because “it looked lived in and was showing wear and tear. Plus, my husband was working from home and had no dedicated office in which to work.” What began as a way to transform a playroom into an office/studio morphed into a vaster project involving replacing floors, buying new furniture, removing transoms and moldings, filling in skylights, adding closets, applying shiplap to select walls and framing out a fireplace wall in the family room to create reading niches. “When Michelle came to the house,” says Nathan, “she assured me that she could make the home an even happier, livelier place.” In keeping her promise to her client, Hogue chose, for instance, decidedly fun sheepskin coverings for the dining chairs. “With three kids, I thought, white, in the dining room?” asks Nathan rhetorically, “but they’re easily removed and the chairs underneath are made of rope and designed for indoor/outdoor use.”