East Coast Home + Design

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Exceptional Products, Personal Service




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A Home Fit for The Dakota In one of New York City’s most iconic historical buildings, Sasha Bikoff executed a transcendent and tailored lifescape. Story by Deborah J. Brannon Photography by Nicole Cohen


Design Defined


A Modern Makeover

The 2017 Architects Issue

Old meets new in this full renovation in Greenwich, Connecticut

Story by Emily Ballard Photography by Peter Brown & John Woodruff

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Editors Letter Kitchens and Baths In The Field

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Melange Ask the Experts Events


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HOME+DESIGN November / December 2017


Editor-in-Chief Matthew J. Kolk mattkolk@me.com 203-820-1092 Managing Editor James Eagen Contributing Writers Deborah Brannon, Lisa Gant, Susan Heller, Lollie Mathews, Jennifer Jackson-Outlaw, Jessica Rivest, Kait Shea Contributing Photographers Jane Beiles, Michael Biondo, Phillip Ennis, Tria Giovan, John Gruen, John Hannon, Paul Johnson, Neil Landino, Mark La Rosa, Tim Lee, Daniel Milstein, Janice Parker, Durston Saylor, Debra Somerville, Eric Striffler, Jonathan Wallen, Woodruff/Brown Photography Copy Editor Elena Serocki Graphic & Web Design East Coast Home Publishing

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Publisher Shelley E. McCormick shelley_mccormick@yahoo.com 203-545-7091 Account Managers Alessandra Flanagan Patrick Giddings Lollie Mathews Business Development John Oleynick

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East Coast Home + Design 8158 Natures Way #23 Lakewood Ranch, Fl 34202 Fax: 203-286-1850

East Coast Home + Design is published six issues per year. To subscribe: www.eastcoasthomepublishing.com; Subscriptions: one year, $28; two years, $50. Back issues can be purchased at www.eastcoasthomepublishing.com. For editorial inquiries: Editor, East Coast Home + Design, 8158 Natures Way #23 Lakewood Ranch, Fl 34202 or e-mail: mattkolk@me.com. For advertising inquiries: Please call Shelley McCormick at 203-545-7091. Reproduction whole or in part without permission is prohibited. All projects described in this publication are for private, noncommercial use only. No rights for commercial use or exploitation are given or implied. The opinions expressed by writers for articles published by East Coast Home + Design are not necessarily those of the magazine.

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he Dakota is one of the most sought after properties in Manhattan. Filled with a rich history, tradition and a who’s who of current and former residents, it is a rare occasion the an opportunity comes up to publish a feature on this fabulous location.

For this issue we had the fortune to work with Interior Designer Sasha Bikoff to share an amazing residence that Sasha recently completed for, believe it or not her mother! The closet alone is to die for much less this beautiful space with a French flair. Christopher Quinn of Ben Krupinski Builders shares with us a spec home in the Belle Haven section of Greenwich, Connecticut that had sat vacant for years and was brought back to life through the vision of the homeowners and Architect Robert Cardillo of Norwalk, Connecticut. The attention to detail and the fit-and-finish of this gorgeous home makes it an instant classic that will surely last the test of time. The entire team associated with this home have truly shown their talent and skill. All of us at East Coast Home + Design hope you and all of your families a happy and healthy holiday season!



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Refined Design MELANGE


Thayer Coggin Ice Roger Lounge Chair Refreshing, modern, clear acrylic lounge seating. Stunning edition to a marvelous frame.

Frankie Sofa from the Hable Collection For Hickory Chair Defines “sophisticated geometry”. This sofa is embraced by two rectangular maple panels, a maple base, and a delightfully unexpected “x-shaped” base with brass ferules. The Frankie commands attention and appreciation.



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Bridgitte Chair from Mary McDonald for Chaddock Hollywood Glam with a flair. Choice of brass or brushed nickel legs. Choice off fabric or leather and customization is possible. Designed & Crafted in the U.S.A.

Thayer Coggin Roxy Coat-On Swivel-Tilt Tub Chair by Milo Baughman The classic Roxy with a coat-on just intensifies the glam to a Milo Baughman original from 1974. Now available again in either polished stainless steel or satin brass.

Century Furniture Details Case Collection It’s a versatile Cabinet program: you choose your case, drawer/door front, base, then add your choice of hardware, next select its finish and its placement, then select your stain or paint finish. Style that suits your space.

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THOM FILICIA Thom Filicia’s latest collection for Kravet takes a fresh approach to design, creating fabrics and furniture for how we live today. The collection has a relaxed, yet refined point of view, inspired by a sense of light and optimism. The fabric collection, ALTITUDE, features printed linens, geometric velvets, and fresh embroideries, all in keeping with Filicia’s signature aesthetic. It builds on Filicia’s past collections, expanding color lines and introducing an exciting new range of styles. Colors range from sea spray blues to citrine yellows and sandy neutrals, highlighting a sense of serene sophistication. The delicate patterns offer crisp and clean lines with a whimsical touch. Filicia’s newest collection with Kravet goes beyond new textiles, also featuring an inspired furniture collection that includes timeless and classic silhouettes that exude a sense of modern sophistication while feeling effortlessly livable. This latest versatile home collection from Thom Filicia offers unlimited options for mixing color, texture and pattern to create a space that is authentically your own.

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BARBARA BARRY Like much of Barbara’s work, PANORAMA was inspired by nature, in particular by her native Californian landscape. The collection features a wide range of fabrics, wall covering and floorcoverings in hushed tones and textural constructions. A highlight of the collection is AWASH, a generously scaled horizontal watercolor wash from Barbara’s own hand. AWASH is a strong graphic pattern that can make a sophisticated statement and comes in four serene color-ways: Water, Haze, Leek and Cinder. PANORAMA is a collection of textures in natural constructions, inspired by colors and patterns that only nature can provide that both inspire and feed the soul.

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‘Tis the Season KITCHENS + BATHS

Top Drawer Cabinetry


The holidays are a perfect representation of when function meets style in kitchen design

oliday traditions vary, and their significance is obviously different for every family. Yet a constant theme that is celebrated universally is the idea of togetherness. Our homes are our refuge and a place of serenity, but they can also be a spot for gathering and entertaining, especially this time of year. For those who enjoy cooking and hosting family and friends, it is very important to have the appropriate space and layout to maximize comfort and functionality.

Story by Emily Ballard

it is all focused on the way people are using their kitchen and entertaining,” Tyra explains. Traditionally, there was a trend toward people and guests sitting in the living or dining room while food was brought and presented to them. “Today,” says Tyra, “the way we see folks using their luxury kitchen is that guests and family are very much participating in preparation of the meal.”

This can be achieved in a number of different ways, but it begins with design. Top industry experts employ innovative concepts to capture the look and feel their clients dream of—and to build spaces that can accommodate holiday festivities with sparkle, finesse, comfort and function. Lifestyle and Expectations The most important questions that designers, builders and architects must ask their clients are about their needs and lifestyle. This is especially important when tackling a kitchen design. Tyra Dellacroce, vice president of interior sales and marketing for Connecticut Stone in Milford, CT, recognizes the importance of getting to know the client’s lifestyle and expectations. Connecticut Stone specializes in luxury kitchen design and products, and its design team realizes that the best way to produce happy clients is to get to know them first. “For me, 18

This has led to the growing popularity of open concept designs, where the kitchen flows into the dining and living room spaces. Homeowners are more drawn to features such as kitchen islands, which allow for seating that fosters interactive socialization. Tyra has also seen a shift in the concept of wine cellars, which are being replaced by wine towers, wine refrigerators and wine rooms—right in the kitchen space. With handson cooking and entertaining, people want to have everything they need at their fingertips.

Nu Kitchens

Tyra equates the design process to matchmaking. “You can have something that is absolutely fantastic, but you want to make sure it has specific attributes that are appealing to you,” she says. “It is a question of balancing the aesthetic of the product with functionality and durability.” With the evolution of appliances and advancements in technology, it is now easier than ever to accommodate specific requests of homeowners. The latest equipment is smarter, more efficient and


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Connecticut Stone

more aesthetically pleasing—and it is not uncommon to find multiple dishwashers and multiple sinks to facilitate cleanup. “It’s important to ask people how they live, and it is really important for people to be honest about that,” says Tyra. “You can help them get a product that meets design aesthetic, but also serves them functionally for the lifetime of the kitchen.” Connecticut Stone is a stone supplier, and its materials dress kitchens with luxurious and sophisticated elements, such as countertops and back splashes. When designers choose a material, it is critical to assess the customer’s characteristics to ensure that the most durable product is delivered. For instance, if the homeowners entertain often, they may not want to choose a countertop that will become etched from the wine glasses. “We are looking to match people with products to fit their design aesthetic and the functionality they require for their household,” Tyra says. “For us, it is not about selling a countertop, it is about selecting something they will be happy with for decades. To do that, you have to really understand the family and where they are coming from.” No matter what the requirements of the kitchen are for entertaining, family life is the backbone of kitchen design. As a father of six with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Jerry Tomic with Top Drawer Custom Cabinetry in New Rochelle, NY, has firsthand knowledge of what works in the kitchen. “I like to see how big a family it is, and the age of the kids,” he says. “If they have young kids, or kids in college, it makes a difference in what I suggest in terms of materials.” Hardwood floors can be problematic with wear and tear in some cases. Jerry is a proponent of radiant heat flooring for comfort, and embraces open concept for style and flow. He believes the key to a successful design is thorough planning—from the blueprint, to the final design, to the selection of the materials. Blending Function and Style Sarah Blank of Sarah Blank Design Studio in Greenwich, CT, also values the importance of designing to match the client’s lifestyle. “When someone likes to entertain, you have to start at the beginning with your storage needs,” she says. From there, the designer must evaluate the size of the ovens and the number of burners necessary to fit the owner’s culinary needs. And especially for entertaining purposes, it is vital to consider if guests will be in the kitchen. “You want to think about the easy flow, about entertaining and spending time with your guests, but making sure the kitchen is going to accommodate all this,” she says. Sarah often finds that the younger generation has a much greater demand for open spaces, to enable the homeowner to cook in the kitchen while watching the children in the living room or playroom. When she started designing in the 1980s, there was a trend toward open concept, and decades later, people started closing up the kitchen space. Now there is a definitive shift back towards open spaces, a full circle in the design world.

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Deane Rooms Everlasting

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Another generational difference that Sarah has encountered is the collection of formal dinnerware or fine china, which goes back to the storage needs of the client. Designing a space that has a practical organizational and functional flow is key. “I spend a great deal of time with my clients, making sure that things can be put away and there are ample outlets to plug things into. You want to make sure it’s as easy as possible,” she says. “I’ve done it for so many years, it becomes second nature to know what needs to be in a kitchen.” One solution that can address these challenges is the creation and use of a butler’s pantry. This area is typically adjacent to the kitchen area and can be used to store china, linens and wine glasses; it may even have a small refrigerator or sink of its own. This can also be a perfect place to stage meals for dinner parties and events. With ample space, a buffet can be set up in this area for guests to serve themselves and continue with a more modern and open experience. A kitchen design should also provide ample counter space for preparation. “If you are a cook, then one sink isn’t going to do it,” says Sarah. “You are going to want a prep area and a cleanup area.” Having studied classical architecture and spending much time playing with proportions, Sarah has an exceptional talent for analyzing size and style, and integrating them into a kitchen so it is functional and forward-thinking and has a distinct design aesthetic. Function and style have a long history of fighting each other when it comes to design, but there is a plane on which they coexist. In the end, it all comes back to the client. How much use will the kitchen get? Will the family gather there each night for dinner? Will there need to be a place to put the baby down as dinner is being prepared? Will it be a space for entertaining friends and extended family, where the homeowners will enjoy the holidays

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with big meals and wine toasts? Designers must consider these questions when it comes to kitchen design. And, in addition to meeting client needs, the design must match the technical requirements of the appliances. Whether the homeowners are advanced home chefs or barely know how to open a can, they must have all the necessities they will ever need. “We can have clients who never cook, but the one day they do cook is when they put the turkey in the oven,” Sarah jokes. “You’ve got very sophisticated cooking equipment that is wonderful to use, but they all have very specific requirements, and you have to make sure one of them is going to fit a turkey.” Joseph Najmy, with Nu Kitchens in South Norwalk, CT, urges his clients to think about their daily living routine and how the right kitchen design can improve the way they live in their home. “The goal is to think beyond the ordinary and creatively plan a more organized kitchen life that friends and family can share in,” he says. “I grew up in a family with 16 uncles and aunts and 36 cousins living on the same block in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Cooking, eating and cleanup were always a family affair full of great memories, especially Thanksgiving.” Creating style and character is the ultimate goal for Joseph, who does this by incorporating pure elements such as stone, porcelain, warm wood tone and richly colored paints. He also adds texture with materials such as copper, brass, soapstone and walnut. All of this comes together for modern comfort and organization. It’s All in the Layout The layout of a home can be the defining factor when it comes to comfort and functionality, and this aspect is critical when considering a kitchen build.

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beautiful texture against project of thesedum 2 yearprovides approvalyear-round process – his jobThe situation has tall, thisbecause groundcover color. mid-sumIf the homeowner a large family and frequent guests, there must the quartzite and lacquered changed. Two years, that’s acomparison long time.” mer yellow flowers pale inhas with its foliage, which transisufficient space for walkways so the cook orand multiple cooks countertops.” tions frombechartreuse in spring to shades of orange red in the have fall. room to walk around. “We consider the flow of the space and where It works well in the landscape as well as in containers and rock gardens. guests will naturally land when entering the space. If theoffirstthis few The culmination Hydrangea paniculata ‘Strawberry Sundae™’ (Dwarf Panicle Hydran- MATT KOLK: steps direct guests between the range and the sink, the chef will be project is kitchendiffer revitalme asktrilobum a question? Does the(American timing forCranberrybush): thea process for Viburnum ‘Wentworth’ A large gea): In coastal regions, our obsession with hydrangeas is hard to deny. “Let dancing around them during meal prep,” says Jennifer Howard of ized, atselection last beating in white time building versus renovating?” shrub, this American Beauties Native Plants® produces Although not our first choice when selecting for dry sites, if you must people JWH Design and Cabinetry in Rye, NY. homeowners’ lives. In latethe summer, the bright red have some hydrangeas in your xeriscape, the panicle form is most ap- spring flowers that attract butterflies. with The daily ofsongbirds, the kitchen area must beagreed takenred into chorus of voices sounded mostand of its which that renovation berries provide fooduse for stunning fallconsideration. foliage is a propriate. Strawberry Sundae is a First Editions® Plant, its flowers A designers such asbecause Jennifer mustDESIGN evaluateathestructure needs of KITCHEN be For the that most arduous process reconciling great alternative toreason, the invasive burning bush shrubs. beginning mid-summer as a creamy white, and transitioning to shades could the client with questions such as whether they like to cook and how Kerifaces McKay that met code when originally built now major uphill battles, of deep pink. It is suitable for drying or fresh arrangements. often they host gatherings. Establishing how large the events might Kerinot McKay Interiors sometimes insurmountable. That leaves only the architect and These are just a few of the many plants that, once established, can better beconditions. and buyer the details ofseller such events leads to lurch. decisions whichitapFairfield, CT about but the and a financial handle dry With ourin ever-changing weather patterns, is Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ (Lavender): For the gardener builder, best suit the cooking203.414.0133 needs.reduce For instance, wouldon anthe exto makewillwater-wise decisions that our impact who has struggled with overwintering lavender in New England, this importantpliances tra refrigerator, double ovens or akerimckayinteriors.com warming drawerlandscapes. facilitate efficient SELLARS: environment while still creating aesthetically pleasing recent introduction tolerates both extreme heat and humidity. The ev- ANN Arnold Karp and Robin Carroll planning and execution? “It makes sense to right-size the appliances,” regulatory ergreen silver foliage of this herb is deer-resistant; its prolific fragrant “This is not just about Millennials. This is also about the SCOTT HOBBS: says Jennifer. “We don’t want to overwhelm a space with process wholeappliapResource itself and people wanting to renovate. I explain the huge flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. “When the regulatory process takes 6 months to a year, and is uncer- proval process ances,to butclients the largest units that fit proportionately will provide and their reaction? “WHOA!” Then I get the an tain in terms of results, a lot of the fun goes outSky’ of it for client email, and overall value.” andbest thisfunction has happened three times in the past four months. “We Eva Chiamulera, ASLA, PLA Panicum virgatum Prairie Winds® ‘Cheyenne (RedtheSwitch and for This the architect. Sometimesnativar I can’tbegins even break ground forblueyear decided to bag this project.” Austin Ganim Landscape Design, LLC Grass): Proven Winners® the season with to 18 months waiting for the various approval processes. If we could concept is quite familiar to Peter Deane with Deane Rooms Highway Cutoff green foliage that transitions to a reddish purple in late summer. A 320 Kings This figure that out we’d have better houses, worth more money and of Everlasting in New LATHROP: Canaan, CT. A recent kitchen design for a family Fairfield, CT 06824 midsize grass at almost three feet in height, it works well in a mixed HOWARD greater value, but because of the regulatory environment people are with five childrenPlanning brought & some specific design requests chalwas on the Westport Zoning Commission forand 8 years. 203.333.2003 border with perennials and shrubs, as well as an accent plant in con- “I walking away.” lenges. The family loved to cook, so it was important to have places We tried desperately to change the regulations, make it easier, and AustinGanimLandscapeDesign.com tainer gardens. for the children to sitstill in the kitchen,Clients and thathave the appliances we did improve it, but it’s terrible. said, “Weaccomwant Sarah Blank Design Studio Before STUART DISSTON: modate their needs. This was achieved with an elegant and Westport functional Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ (Stonecrop): Although only a few inches to build or renovate but we don’t want to go through the “I have a client who is about to walk away from an 8 million dollar Choice® selection provides an outstanding display of deep blue flowers through early fall, attracting pollinators of all types. The compact form of this sun-loving shrub mixes well with perennials and grasses.

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JWH Design & Cabinetry

kitchen island with seating for five, so the mother could converse with the kids while cooking. Because of the family’s size, timing for meal preparation was also imperative. A warming drawer is one feature that Peter and his clients knew was a must-have. A butler’s Before Beforepantry with extra sink, refrigerator, storage and counter space enhanced the space with increased organization and efficiency. Great attention was given to materials that could withstand an active family of this size. Inch-and-a-half perimeter stainless-steel with countertops, a rope atstorage the threshold.” for dry goods, Thisand philosophy, increased which refrigerator Barbara andalso freezer embraces, space were is embodied installed, along everywhere with you a 48-inch look in range thiswith timeless custom interior hoodthat andisa refined concretewithout island with being a waterfall a museum. edge. Visual and tactile interest is brought into the living room in layers: an area rug softens the space among plush chairs from Wesley Hall Whenand speaking a sofa from aboutHickory functionality Chair,versus all without style, Peter hidingsays, the“Iluminous think they wood are flooring. complementary A darktocabinet each with other.padded Aesthetic doors, and the styleone areheavy very important piece of furniture to designers in thebecause room, that is balanced is the value by the wetall, bring wide to windows creating opposite, this image,with but just theirasattendant importantPearson is the functionality.” daybed. Barbara’s deliberate use of bold colors throughout achieves that ideal proportion that enlivens the room and breathes vitality into the space, rather than strangling When it comes the room’s to a kitchen atmosphere. build, the Sheoptions also created for design, a focal features point—missing and appliances fromarethe endless. architecture There is of this an ebb living androom—by flow to trends hanging and styles, threebut Osburn certainwall aspects mirrors of this from space Bassett are timeless. side by side. A special Thefeel effect emerges is beguiling, around the delightful holidayand season ultimately that brings surprising, people notes together, Barbara. and so“The oftenroom this congregation feels open yethappens grounded in the and absolutely kitchen. With pleasing,” the proper she design, says. this space can be a beautiful, comfortable and functional area for entertaining friends and in-laws—or just staying home for an intimate dinner with loved ones. This sensational combination of room enough to spread your wings yet still stay down to Earth Resources:the foyer as well. Here, the room’s bright airiness is grounded by the deep wood of a Regina infuses console table, which in turn counterbalanced lamps and the While simplicity of anpeople Ablenay Our different ideas of iswhat comfort by is delicate make us unique. many Connecticut Stone mirror from Uttermost in an antiqued gold finish. Staggered photographs from the client’s personal JWH Design and Cabinetry Sarah Blank Design Studio align their ideas of comfortable spaces with those filled with plush furniture or collection Tyra Dellacroce add interest toany one’s journey up be the comfortable, stairs, like so many fascinating stepping Jennifer Howard Sarah Blank cozy atmospheres, space can even without thosestones. elements. 138 Woodmont Road 1111 Boston Post Road 19 West Putnam Avenue, 202 highly For example, my comfortable kitchen is large, open and bright. ItSuite mixes Altogether, Milford, CT 06460 this collaboration between Barbara Fein and her perfectly captures home that Rye, NY 10580 Greenwich, CT 06830 polished modern elements with a spattering of clients rustic materials. It apushes theis meant 203.882.1000 to be lived in. “That sense of comfort and ease, that sense of home, was the goal for this space,” 914.967.6020 203.655.6900 envelope and brings forth unexpected design components. It is easy to navigate Barbara connecticutstone.com explains.fresh They certainly succeeded achievingand that.a coffee jwhdesigns.com sarahblankdesignstudio.com and includes flowers from myin garden pot with two cups ready to enjoy with a guest. The space wouldn’t be complete or comfortable without Deane Rooms Everlasting DESIGN Nu Kitchens Custom Cabinetry aINTERIOR deep relaxed chair tucked into the corner, next Top to Drawer a full-length window overBarbara Peter Deane Feinstein Joseph Najmy Jerry Tomic looking the gardens. Add the scent of fresh apple pie drifting through the space B Fein 189 ElmInteriors Street 132 Water Streetbackground, and719 Main Street while Motown plays softly in the we’ve achieved my definition 51 Greenacres Avenue New Canaan, CT 06840 South Norwalk, CT New NY 10801 of comfort, or my signature style, Cashmere & Blue Rochelle, Jeans®. It’s a style that is Scarsdale, NY 10583 203.972.8836 203.831.9000 914.632.4222 authentic, polished, supple, rustic, refined, easy, time-honored and, well, just 914.261.1114 deaneinc.com nukitchens.com topdrawercc.com plain comfortable. bfeininteriors.com

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The Importance of Team Building with Brian MacDonald of Davenport Contracting Story by Emily Ballard

When a potential new home customer hears the phrase “team building,” what is the home building industry referring to? Today’s custom homes are multifaceted, complex structures, far more complicated than homes in generations past. All homeowners have a “wish list” and an image in their minds, but effectively turning those into reality is only accomplished as a team effort. It starts with choosing an architectural firm that can translate the customer’s ideas into floor plans and elevations—sometimes with the input of an interior designer and/or landscape architect—and then a general contractor who will complete the project according to those plans and as cost effectively as possible. Bringing the team together early in the process is invaluable in making for a successful project. There is more to it than a snap of the fingers. How does one successfully build a team? Everyone should be able work together; there is constant give and take during the building process. The general contractor assembles the subcontractors—excavators, masons, framers, electricians, plumbers, etc.—and sets up a schedule for each to keep the project moving smoothly. It’s critical that the design team (architect, landscape architect, engineer, interior designer) continues to be engaged even after construction drawings are issued, as inevitably there are questions and issues that come up as the job progresses. It is also quite common for the client to have a change of heart about certain aspects of the house that require the input and guidance of the design team. The most important thing for all to remember in every step of the project is that this is the customer’s home, and they should love it when it is done. Can you give us an example of how this integration works? Certainly. Let’s use the kitchen as an example. The architect has looked at wish 24

list ideas with the client and combined them into a design/floor plan. A structural engineer reviews the plans to determine if there needs to be additional support for heavy appliances, or more involved framing for elements like tray ceilings. The general contractor supervises construction of all aspects of the kitchen, including the layout of lighting, electrical outlets, HVAC grilles, review of cabinet construction/shop drawings, purchase of the specified appliances and plumbing fixtures, etc. The landscape designer will also have taken into account what the homeowners will see when they look out the kitchen windows. The interior designer recommends furnishings and finishing touches that tie the whole scheme together to create the client’s “dream kitchen.” Why is Davenport Contracting the best choice a customer can make? The team at Davenport Contracting has over 30 years of experience building and renovating homes. Our business model has always been based on building/renovating for a specific customer. We have never done speculative work. We are a team-based “family” of employees who thrive on going the extra mile for a client. We pride ourselves on making each job customer-based—your house, your home, uniquely for you—and always with an eye to delivering the best job for the best price. Resources: Brian MacDonald Davenport Contracting, Inc. 78 Harvard Avenue Stamford, CT 06902 203.324.6308 davenportcontracting.com


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One of a Kind in the Heart of Brooklyn Andrea Cross took a small group of designers and architects on a field trip to small artisan workshops IN.SEK Design, Wüd Furniture Design and Avram Rusu Studio


Story by Deborah J. Brannon

emember field trips? Those heady days when you skipped out of school on a condoned trip to someplace new, exciting and filled with fine arts or hands-on experiences? When we leave school and launch our careers, we forget field trips.

Andrea Cross, though, remembers how direct experience with concepts and production can open up new worlds of appreciation and fascination for us, enriching our careers, inspiring us, and improving the value we offer our clients. So she called upon that school-year magic once again, and took her collegues on a field trip. Meet Andrea Cross Andrea Cross is the lively and creative mind behind Axel Interiors, her lovingly curated shop featuring what she calls “extraordinary objects for everyday living.” Andrea happily ran her interior design business entirely from home for many years, before conceiving and opening her retail outlet out of a passion for fine handcrafted furnishings and decorative elements. She strives to support and promote items made by designer/makers—those genius craftsmen (and women!) who create their tables or lights or chairs in small workshops in the


design communities around Connecticut and New York. Andrea often encounters these practitioners sharing their wares at trade shows, but otherwise it can be difficult to find these brands, which produce stunning work but perhaps lack the advertising budget to attain a high profile. Andrea decided her colleagues need access to these brands between shows, and she’s just the ambassador to highlight these designer/makers. So Axel Interiors was born—and later, this field trip. According to Edie van Breems, cofounder of Eleish van Breems, “Axel Interiors is one of our go-to resources for fabulous new furniture manufacturers. Andrea’s edit and eye for new talent is always spot-on, so when Andrea and East Coast Home + Design invited us to visit some of the workrooms of the Brooklyn manufactures represented at Axel Interiors, we knew we were in for an exciting and interesting day.” Edie’s faith was abundantly rewarded. The Field Trip Andrea invited a select group of the most creative and high-level professionals in her community of architects and designers to meet at Axel Interiors early one morning. Attendees included Tina Anastasia (Mark P. Finlay Interiors, South-


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port); Amanda Martocchio (Amanda Martocchio Architecture + Design LLC, New Canaan); Douglas Graneto (Douglas Graneto Design, Greenwich); Anthony Minichetti (Anthony Minichetti Architect LLC, Greenwich); Beth Krupa (Beth Krupa Interiors, Old Greenwich); Rhonda Eleish and Edie van Breems (Eleish van Breems, Westport). Our own editor, Matthew Kolk, was also in attendance. Once assembled, the group took a chartered bus to New York City, where they visited three Brooklyn workshops: IN.SEK Design, WĂźd Furniture Design and Avram Rusu Studio. Andrea also arranged a lavish meal at Leuca at the William Vale hotel, where the group was joined by Ashira Israel, owner of IN.SEK; Corey Springer, founder of WĂźd Furniture Design; and Andreea Avram Rusu, principal of Avram Rusu Studio. IN.SEK Desgin IN.SEK Design works primarily with concrete, wood and metal to create and craft solid, sophisticated furniture and lighting for both corporate offices

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and private residences. The firm operates with a very deliberate and intentional spirit behind a battle flag planted against wasteful, disposable culture and the poorly-made furnishings that go along with it. According to IN.SEK owner Ashira Israel, “Andrea brought a group of colleagues to introduce them to our work and share the back-end part of the furniture and home decor business that most people do not get to see—where all the magic happens and everything gets made—literally something from nothing, all thanks to skilled hands and passionate hearts.” Ashira discussed the careful planning that goes into the layout of their space, along with the materials and tools they use, before sharing some in-progress projects on the workbenches and a selection of pristine finished products. Douglas Graneto found Ashira’s work fascinating, noting that she almost seemed to play with the products she created, experiencing the sheer joy of making something. Reflecting on her light fixtures, he added, “I’m fascinated by her use of concrete; I love the concept. You don’t think of concrete for light fixtures as completely transparent —-nothing gets through it—but she uses it in a really creative manner. Her lighting has stuck with me.” Beth Krupa was equally enthused. “Her work with wood, metal and concrete was so creative and unique,” she said. “My favorite items were the live edge headboard with portable wood rail system, and the poured concrete lighting pendants mixed with wood and a distressed patchiness that makes them so one-of-a-kind 28

and a real focal point. You can feel her love of these materials and unique perspective, creating items that are both functional and sculptural.” Also impressed was Anthony Minichetti, who commented, “IN.SEK’s intermix of concrete, steel, wood and crystal gems in furniture and accessory pieces were tectonic masterpieces.” One piece showcased on the field trip was the firm’s SQR side table. “It is a feat of engineering with a mix of materials, including concrete, wood, and felt,” Ashira revealed. “I showed everyone all the initial prototypes and the nine or so iterations we had to go through during our development of the piece before we finally had one I was happy with.” She explained that the mix between concrete and wood resulted in unique challenges: wood expands and concrete contracts as they each cure. But experimentation and perseverance carried the day, and she’s proud to offer the piece now for purchase. Ashira was delighted with the field trip: her staff modeled their steadfast work ethic and had a chance to declaim on their core philosophies regarding design and sustainability. Indeed, Andrea explained that IN.SEK uses wood from naturally fallen trees whenever possible, and supports planting new trees in place of those used. She also noted that Ashira provides a fresh perspective—especially for designers and architects who are around mid-career—in that she offers a peek into the considerations of millennials. ”She’s a real reflection of her genera-


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Artistic Tile

tecture wasthe lost.” She thethat homeowners decidedsheon an tion, and she designs pieces that,” said Andrea. makes as well as hope of for aand story is not“For yet example, over—that credirection that would emphasize the stunning views aelegant bed that can be broken up and shipped in a UPS box and be assembled, ation and life continue. I’d like to acknowledge my collaboraof water, high move ceilings, the And coffered and because she knowsthe herCorey peers frequently. wants to spend torsthe and friends, Grant Tippin andnobody Kim ceilings Nelson, who all the other details of incredible architecture. They also $800 to have a shipping company deliver a bed for them when they might have brought a whole lot ARTISTICTILE.COM of beauty into this world.” wanted to showcase collection move in nine months. Sothe she homeowners’ is very thoughtfuloutstanding about every step of the life of pop art. “So, while they still wanted this home to wood feel of a piece of furniture: Is it responsible the way it’s made and where the In showcasing their creativity and compassion is this powerful traditional, they were willing to explore transitional,” Linda comes from? Will this live—will this not wind up in a landfill or on Craigslist window display project, these top designers each offer a unique adds, “and the juxtaposition the modern artthe really gave it or someplace Andreathe also same spokeofenthusiastically about Ashira’s Excavadesign but else?” all convey message: spread word, raise the twist I think we were all looking for.” The art collection tion series that adds quartz crystal to concrete, creating “seemingly weightless awareness and promote care, compassion and hope in the fight set the containers,” mood foraseach room, environment concrete Rhonda Eleishand put it,the withtropical alluring texture and voids. against HIV/AIDS. informed[OK as edited?] their choices among these pieces. “It was a rare opportunity to share our love of making to a receptive audience In the library, ceiling panel who so rarely get tothe seedramatic the processcoffered in the products and and furniture theywalls spec Resources are on stained warm wood tones,“Itwith a lowering [should out a regularin basis,” Ashira commented. was fantastic to see the joy and Christopher Spitzmiller pair of wide zig zag lamps in this bein everyone’s “towering”?]crown of everyone antique brass embodied by wonder faces,christopherspitzmiller.com and to have asking questions and touchmarigold Farrow and Ball Designer Resources a Chameleon Fine Lighting chandelier. A custom-designed ing all the “Yellow materials so enthusiastically.” is the most luminous of all colors in the with purchases shipping,every and can evenit suggest accommodations, Locations and and Designers in almost culture represents sofa by spectrum, Paul Himber is covered in taupe Silverton Weave ifus.farrow-ball.com needed. Alexander Doherty warmth” from Lee Jofa,sunshine,happiness, while the customand chairs were upholstered by WÜD Furniture Design Alexander Doherty Design Paul Furniture Himber Design in Osborne Montacute Crosslee fabric Wüd has been& inLittle business for 15 years, creating innovaWe arrive Doherty at Antichita Trois, where I’m introduced to Alberto Alexander 71 W 85th Street #4A Anfoin aqua andthat white. custom Amiel Medallion area rug tive furniture bridgesA the gap between elegance and practicality. Thefrom firm dillo. again I’m whisked away—indeed, my feet UpperOnce West Side New York, NY barely 10024 touch the Holland & Sherry softens the space, and Paul Himber ’s cusworks with metals (encased in resin), wood, leather and more to craft fine have aGypset habit ofTravel saying, my clients have taste.” And ground!—to the interior ofwith a“All somber palazzo. Of good course, the ground 322 Columbus Avenue 212.390.1572 Acrylic bench Mongolian FurWüd’s Seat tomit’s valances and drapery panels in Zimmer & Rohde’s Stanfurniture that will stand the test of taste and time. Keren Springer said In fact, allworlds-away.com myalta, clients great taste. They knowan assouline.com floor is true. reserved for acqua and have thus left vacant. We enter New York, NY 10023 alexanderdohertydesign.com more Felt—Aari on a felted ground—introduce the field trip waslike, an embroidery opportunity to forge new connections with designers what they but don’t possess the design skills to transelevator that is small even by European standards and are brought to 212.799.0900 more color. The Holmes table from Ferrellis and discuss theSofirm’s and craftsmanship. “Since cozyprocesses - Worlds Awayyetcocktail interesting in communication latevibrant their design preferences into a home that successfully the most spacious rooms ofany hisroom magnificent palazzo. Alberto guides Antonino Buzzetta Mittman and the Roman Thomas “Orbit” side tables often done over email and phone, or at a hectic tradeshow, it is always aconnice expresses they are. us through hiswho treasure trove of antiqueAntonino paintings on reverse Antonino Buzzetta Buzzetta Design glass; trast beautifully softness ofwethe change to have the tradewith out tothe ourcontained shop and showroom, where can room, discuss aFlatiron collection of lions (the symbol of Venice); ancient 39 W 14th Streetboxes, #504some as PUZZLE CHANDELIER complementing the striking walls and modern art.andnew our craft in more detail,” Keren said. “It also allowed us to showcase finish My design approach is toPuzzle learn a Chandelier client’s taste distill beautiful onaStreet the inside as the outside; furniture; glass; and, 32 E.interior 22nd New York,paintings; NY 10011 Inspired by house of cards, our is made samples and current work, and discuss possible custom projects.” that understanding into a is design “vocabulary foralways their been project. of course, chandeliers (this Venice, after all). ”I’ve fond of sheets of solid brass layered into a dynamic composition. New York, NY 10010 917.971.0571 The clients wanted an open, free-flowing that of would Linda transformed the house fullhouse interior thistake magWhen IRuderman useSara this approach, client’s becomes a that home thatadThe Architectural Modernist feel isand warmed by the luminous of Venetian Murano chandeliers, now I’mup convinced antique 212.334.8330 antoninobuzzetta.com Design by Baldwin formy New Ravenna, The Aurelia fromGault Sam vantage of a dramatic waterside location on a cove. Sellars Lathrop nificent home, but hesitates when asked which aspect of Andrea observed that Wüd is the largest of the small-scale studios they a Hang unique expression of who theyabove are. Their interior becomes metal. your Chandelier a circular likesamisis the way to go.isPuzzle Delft Collection a modern American interpretation oftable, a cenArchitects and Artemis Landscape Architects were fortunate to colthe design is her favorite, since every part of the house isa pled on the field trip. While everything is still crafted in-house, Wüd has our Nixon, or in a here fabulous timeless. Carmina turies oldRoth familiar craft, . Shown isCarmina a foyer. hand Roth cut jewel glass laborate on this classic modern home. special. “more The grand living room that connects to the newly somewhat segmented process, with one person working with the resin, jonathanadler.com David isLapis, a Venetian partialMica, Persian descent on hisand father’s hassle.” 32 EastRachtian Putnam Rothfinish. Interiors mosia shown inAvenue Lazuli,ofthem Lolite, Absolute White erie’s team decided to update to “What anCarmiña off-white Doing built loggia was my favorite Linda decides another working with the metal, and sospace,” on. they arefinally best known forsois To be timeless requires confidence to know who side. At hisCT shop we findconfidence—the antique Persian rugs from Tabriz, Kashan, Greenwich, 06830 203.987.5961 Blue Spinel. not only helped lighten the rooms but also offered the enduring look While Howard Lathrop of Sellars Lathrop provided the overall deafter some thought. “It was challenging due to the size of this resin over patinated metal,” Andrea continued. “And the patinated metal Photo credit: Bing. you areand and whatChuan you like. Inimagesbychuan.com a one decade dominated by agray, it’sThis a Isfahan China, around which could easily build room. CHRIS PAGLIARO: 203.422.0990 carminarothinteriors.com jamieshop.com that the couple was seeking. Plus, the color helped provide a sense of sign direction for the house and the site, he knew it was important the space. The sunset with all its blazing sky already set the can be copper, brass, bronze, zinc—and it’s a really rich, elegant material.” challenge to speak with color. In a way, “timeless” is the opposite Ibiza Lounge Collection thoughtfully arrangedapplicable and packed store also features glassThis is particularly for antique the Millennials because they do uniformity within home. to “trend.” bring Tara M.the Vincenta from atofirm known for itsis exbackdrop for the rooms would create.” Her design team The metalsinare safely sealed away under aArtemis, nonreflective surface, so the beauty restorationhardware.com of It’s difficult towe assign adevelopment decade an interior ware, silverware, jewelry and important, sought-after Jewishthat pieces. not have the patience to wait out the of a project. They Connie Cooper Connie Cooper pertise in coastal plants and sensitive ecological locations. Howard threw themselves wholeheartedly into the challenge, creatremains and won’t be scratched or marred by use. While they’ve been workgrays,catches whites, silver, which “really makes the arttimeless; a timeless interior defies categorization. ItDesigns hasthey permaWhat mytaupes eyeapartment areand paperweights from the 1950s, decorated would rather rent an thanresults—a invest atimeless home that don’t 396 Post Road East Connie Cooper The were thrilled with the home that is says he and Tara “worked collaboratively toinmeld the interior of the ing a couple refined, tranquil space frommetal—calling which to enjoy thefor views. ing for over alegitimacy. decade withItthis resin under it “Pb-R” “lead work stand out nicely,” she says. nence and is ageless. with mythological creatures. know willexterior.” be or how much it will They Westport, CTit06880 58 Highcost. Point Road don’t want just aswhen welcoming toready their asamid to their adult guests. house with the An intimate dining table sits white-lacquered McGuire encased in resin,” or “Crs-R” forkids “cold rolled steel encased in resin”—they still to hear, “Public hearing, appeals periods,Westport, Health CT Department 203.221.3117 06880 review, chairs covered inintegrated Spinneybeck’s Acqua upholstery leather think of new forms to useinto the technique. White wasways alsoand sleeker modern powder Orseola and Chiara walk me back and to the where the tour began, 5-6 weeks for a building permit then 10 months tointerplay aand yearI am to 203.256.9183 “Hedgerows and stone walls work together to form the and Sunbrella fabric. A bronze fire screen made by Eric Velroom, which was long andmyself narrow, and needed its fixtures toofI pleasantly surprised to find in familiar surroundings. Then build.” They want answers, deadlines, and an end-game result of Caleb Anderson conniecooperdesigns.com INTERIOR DESIGNER planes and solids that the design he palleca stands before fireplace outfitted with reclaimed anKeren described how fielda create trip attendees had aaesthetic,” chance to view one ofThe Wüd’s be small and modern. Lara believes aresays. important realize we havefinancial made a impact.” large circle, and that theywhites have given me a lesson planning and D & D Building Valerie Grant etteuse oftiles hardscape materials is sideboard, limited washed river rock, tique from the L’Antiquario. The to living room loggia space most popular pieces, Tompkins being put together inno thenarrow metal in smaller rooms that have wininto getting around Venice, too.and dark rooms Suite 1519 Caleb Anderson Valerie Grant Interiors concrete pavers, Ipe wood deck tiles and native stone outcropping. features a custom banquette by Paul Himber, an Artifacts shop; a zinc tabletop being patinated pre-resin; and a Gotham credenza taking dows or don’t get much light. In this case, Lara “didn’t want CHUCK HILTON: 979 ThirdTuck Avenue Drake / Anderson 14 Friar Circle Retaining walls are natural concrete matching pavers. A native International glass topperhaps cocktail table, andthe a project Ralph shape in the woodshop. But the most impressive in Lauren progress to clutter the wall artwork,” she to says, “soa Leaving Venice islong like empty parting with with aagencies lover; I and daydream linger “The problem is there are so many so many interest New York, NY 10022 67atIrving Place, 12th Floor Summit, NJ 07901 stone wall runs adjacent to the road and the parking area. Joshua Tree Chair in Woven Lampacanay. “I loved designing was a Nola island countertop in the resin shop. “Specifically, it was a handinstead I chose a delicately patterned silver-white wallpaper little longer before we’re returning to reality. Visitors at least take groups. Currently, working on a waterfront project. Wecan have a 212.752.5544 New York can NY 10003 917.921.1916 the trelliage with thewalnut, mirror it,”bronze says. picked solid slab of with black where the livebehind edge meets that has to fill the wall a antique bit of shimmer and tons ofLinda interest.” comfort ina bringing something backagency, home—a beautiful lion, tree, box, historian, wetlands agency, coastal zoning, building, 212.754.3099 valeriegrantinteriors.com Taracut provided a clean, landscape that fits the and “No matter where you sit in the loggia, you have water views been with precision andsimple flawlessly affixed to thekeeps curves ofarchitecture the live edges of The white, silver and gray color scheme the small room chandelier, a commissioned Luigi Bevilacqua fabric all forjust that very spebiologist, structural engineer, lighting consultant, to getI were apMichael Herold drakeanderson.com spectacular waterfront setting. As she explains, “Howard and that reflect everywhere.” the walnut,” Keren explained. “Then the bronze is cast in epoxy resin.” light and bright evenunique thoughbag. it has no like windows. cial upholstery and/or Finds these add design sparklethe to proval for 17 a schematic so Ribbon we can was then begin 160 Route North The Jenning Brutalist in agreement that the landscape toactually be simple andtoarchitectural, interiors and wardrobe, lifting onetelling out of thejust sea of get sameness. house. And it’s two years they’re us, to through the Paramus, NJ 07652 Michael Herold Table willofdazzle thethewas particularly atpick the entrance to home, thewith usetoaofvisit clipped INTERIOR DESIGN A long-time admirer Douglas beyond delighted their Lara likesLamp to a Wüd, whitein color for wallwith paint tint of agencies.” 201.265.4030 Michael Herold Design and vermodern home with striking ilboxwood hedges, ivy groundcover, concrete plank walkways Linda Ruderman studio. “To go to their space was just awesome,” he said. “They had four little the color that will coordinate with any other colors in the Venice is a bewitching city that I can’t 287 waitS to getStreet back#8 to as soon Main lumination, simple geometric nacular stone site walls.” Linda Ruderman Interiors boards upShe in their work room, and just towhite watchon how theywindow also continually room. uses brighter trim, as possible. Itthen makes me ayearn for more. And itthe makes me wonder, Looking toward the future, one of the conundrums for residential Patrick Mele Lambertville, NJ 08530 designs and bold metal done 74 Greenwich Avenue play with the product and push its boundaries, I found fascinating.” Anthony doors and ceilings to contrast with the off-white color on Cockatoo Wallcovering Scalamandre Spring 2016 Indoor/Outdoor fabric Where will The Antiques Diva take me to travel and shop next? thea towns with 2project acre zoning is the combined 22 of expanding Upper East Side 609.460.4763 BIZET TABLE inher aThe gold leaf finish. One of the goals was to extend theCatch direct coastal vegetation Greenwich, CT 06830 Minichetti plans to include some of Wüd’s work inare hissteer next design project, wall. Unless clients insist, she tries to them away osborneandlittle.com book. colors Linda has selected the downtown to Street attract new becoming residents and/or allowing multiple hous142 East 73rd mydesignermichael.com A stunning hand-wrought base is topped zincdoor.com into the house, all while part of the shoreline. To achieve 203.552.9700 adding that he’d love to see “an entire library customized in bronze wall panels following: 27056-002 Surf, 27059-002 Surf,for 27058-002 from white fabrics on upholstered items, obvious practiThe Antiques &with Co ing toDiva be built. bucolic settingperhaps is what many people love New York, NY 10021 circular tempered glass. Distinctively Osborne Little -27067-003 fun in awhite/light-colored child’s room aWüd mudSurf, Surf scalamandre.com thisunits theand team used aThe variety of ornamental grasses and perennials, lindaruderman.com with resin-covered bookshelves!” Beth Krupaoridentified as her favorite cal reasons. The only upholstery fabric Toma Clark Haines about their towns but what happens to the mill rate 212.737.7400 Patrick Mele room bathroom or any space needing unexpected pops ofwhen colorofthe tax individual and suitable for a range including echinacea, sage and joe-pye weedwhich to fill is in among studio of theto trip. technique was applied using metals, resin and she likes use“Amazing isup, aRussian faux-leather vinyl fabric, great I love these fabrics forclients, + 49 171 “Surf’s 386 2213 Before period andfresh contemporary settings. base is(0)mostly single family residential? People, just setting. decide 203.550.2264 the native shoreline vegetation and enhance the natural cove woods combined in such a beautiful way,” she exclaimed. “The founder and at resisting stains and dirt. spring, theyand remind me to of the water” christopherguy.com antiquesdiva.com to hop over the border move Westchester. Good Rug schools, patrickmele.com Zanzibar Ticking Woven Cotton




middle Small Architecture.indd Melange.indd Arts Front and Spaces.indd of Book Antiques.indd book.indd Jan 19 33 2016.indd 29 15 Melange.indd Roundtable.indd Interiors.indd Designer Kitchens.indd Melange.indd Mel Interiors.indd Designer Architect In the -of Outdoor.indd Field.indd Section Section Section 25 63 29 37 17A.indd 47 A.indd 53 A.indd 13 3565 35 31 9

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lead designer, Corey Springer, is such a talent.” Amanda Martocchio was quite effusive in her praise as well. “I was fascinated to see Wüd’s shop and the artisans at work,” she said. “Because Wüd’s pieces combine resin, wood and ornamental metals, there is a diverse set of skills, materials and methods of fabrication all coming together. It’s really fascinating to see how it takes place under one roof. Seeing the molten resin begin to cure and be flamed before our eyes was fascinating.” Avram Rusu Studio An architect by training, Andreea Avram Rusu founded Avram Rusu Studio over a decade ago. She designs and assembles potent light fixtures, tables and other elements that capture a startling complexity in fresh, engaging forms. Andreea supports a thriving community of local artists and artisans by utilizing the skills of machinists, glass blowers, woodworkers and others in the New York area. And while she finishes every piece of hers in her studio, the off-site production of some elements lends her space a sense of serenity unavailable to the other workshops that feature more production activity. Andrea Cross described Avram Rusu Studio as a “more quiet, contemplative space,” and pointed out how this more cerebral nature is reflected in Avram Rusu’s work. “She has one chandelier designed in a way that every piece of glass kind of comes out—they’re discs and they can go on and be moved,” Andrea said, describing the Confetti Glass Chandelier. “She can put it up and think about it and see if it needs to be moved again, so it’s a very different feel and more cerebral.” Andreea confirmed they were working with her Confetti Glass Chandelier on the day of the field trip. “We were in the midst of assembling two Confetti fixtures,” she said. “The collection just went through a redesign, and we showed the first two pieces of the new versions.” Attendees also got a look at some of her jewelry-like Link Pendants, Nova collection furniture of marble and metal, Stonehenge coffee table with its thick sculptural legs of satin nickel, and a 10-foot Continuum Collection chandelier, which also features elements that can be moved into different arrangements. Amanda observed, “It made sense that these makers, IN.SEK Design and Avram Rusu, were putting to use their architectural training to make beautiful furniture that combined both wood and concrete, and light fixtures that integrated polished plates of metal and colorful disks of glass. They were each so invested in the quality of the raw materials they used: how they were sourced and the other artisans who were producing components for them. I was struck by the passion with which they pursued their work, and their eagerness to share it with us.” Similarly, Douglas was blown away by Andreea’s use of hand-blown glass and the inspired way she put together her light fixtures. “It reads as loose and random to some degree, but there’s actually no randomness in advance,” he pointed out. “Every single aspect of it has been completely thought out. The way her mind works and the way she’s able to put these concepts to paper before she creates them just absolutely fascinated me.” Anthony summed it up perfectly, declaring that “Avram Rusu lighting is jewelry ready for any room to wear.” Elevated Craft Inspires Andrea is pleased that she was able to help her peers achieve a more direct experience with several of the finest small-scale craftsmen in NYC. Indeed, she gave her colleagues the thrill of a field trip day. She awakened curiosity and wonder in her community, so everyone can be more intentional and deliberate in seeking out and sharing these big gems of the small workshop world. 1700 POST ROAD, FAIRFIELD, CT 06824 203.255.6847 | www.BAKERBATCHELDER.com

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Andrea Cross Axel Interiors 33 North Avenue Norwalk CT 06851 203.299.3155 Axelinteriors.com

Anthony Minichetti Anthony Minichetti Architect LLC 777 North Street Greenwich, CT 06831 203.992.1922 amarchitectllc.com

Ashira Israel IN.SEK DESIGN 1093 Pacific Street #2D Brooklyn, NY 11238 347.351.8915 insekdesign.com

Tina Anastasia Mark P. Finlay Interiors 96 Old Post Road Suite 300 Southport, CT 06890 203.254.2388 Markfinlayinteriors.com

Beth Krupa Beth Krupa Interiors 259-A Sound Beach Avenue Old Greenwich, CT 06870 203.745.2129 bethkrupainteriors.com

Keren Springer Wüd Furniture Design 1093 Pacific Street Brüklyn, NY 11238 718.486.7952 wudfurniture.com

Amanda Martocchio Amanda Martocchio Architecture + Design 189 Brushy Ridge Road New Canaan, CT 06840 203.966.5707 amandamartocchio.com

Rhonda Eleish Eleish van Breems 22 Railroad Place Westport, CT 06880 203.635.8080 evbantiques.com

Andreea Avram Rusu Avram Rusu Studio 79 Quay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222 718.389.0350 avramrusu.com

Douglas Graneto Douglas Graneto Design 61 Ridgeview Avenue Greenwich, CT 06830 203.622.8383 douglasgraneto.com

Edie van Breems Eleish van Breems 22 Railroad Place Westport, CT 06880 203.635.8080 evbantiques.com

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Black half-moon chairs by Milo Baughman sit before pale double doors with black lacquer detailing.

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A HOME FIT FOR THE DAKOTA In one of New York City’s most iconic historical buildings, Sasha Bikoff executed a transcendent and tailored lifescape. Story by Deborah J. Brannon Photography by Nicole Cohen

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hen Sasha Bikoff sets out to design an interior space, she orients herself to her clients and strikes for their hearts: doing so allows her to corporealize their spirits or desires into vibrant, tailored rooms. Indeed, when you see a Bikoff space, you have no defense against it. It cuts through you with the keen edge of genius. “It is more than just the design of the home for me,” Sasha explains when asked about her process. “It is about having a deep understanding of my client—everything from the shoes on their feet, the cars they drive, to their passions and travels from the past. Everything should have meaning.” Enter the Dakota. Constructed in the 19th century and designed by architect Henry J. Hardenbergh, this grand and remarkable cooperative apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is an embodied synthesis of international influence: German Renaissance architecture, with its steep roofs, oriel windows and balustrades, is layered over the French-inspired design of the interior layout, with its central courtyard. Beyond the building’s inherent grandeur—which is vast, luxurious and more than can be recounted here—the Dakota has played host to many storied individuals. Famous men and women such as Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein and Boris Karloff have dwelt here. John Lennon kept six apartments at the Dakota, and was fatally shot outside its doors. It’s just one apartment we’re captivated by today.It may have once belonged to Judy Garland, and it most certainly belonged to Sasha Bikoff ’s first major client. “The homeowner was my mother, and the entire interior design of the apartment is a homage to her,” she confesses. “I wanted to capEast Coast Home + Design

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A Moroccan floor lamp stands opposite a Steinway grand piano.

ture all of her passions and inspirations in life.” Sasha shares that her mother was a pianist and a ballerina. Much of the art displayed on the walls of her home reflected her Iranian heritage, while Sasha sought elsewhere to capture her mother’s personality (and Studio 54 days!) through an admixture of Old World luxury, ’50s nostalgia and ’70’s glam. “From glamorous lacquered walls to exquisite handpainted wallpaper by de Gournay, to my mother’s inherited Persian Tabriz silk rugs, the apartment is a true reflection of her,” she says. Layered Declaration From the first moment you lay eyes on the lifescape crafted for this Dakota interior, you feel embraced and inspired. The eye glides over layer after layer, touching upon striking walls, fascinating art and heartbeats of color throughout. Sasha’s talent in crafting layered compositions that entice without exhausting is a key aspect of her ingenuity, nurtured by her 38

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An oak table by Timothy Oulton is lined with Julia Gray chairs upholstered in salmon Scalamandre satin. A collection of Versace china for Rosenthal is displayed on wall shelves.

fundamental grounding in the arts— she studied fine arts and art history at George Washington University and the American University in Paris.

makes the room glisten and illuminate when you walk in.” She even lacquered the fireplaces in white, emphasizing their original ornamental molding details.

Every incredible human edifice, whether architecture or interior design, must stand upon a solid foundation if it’s to reach the heavens. Here, that solid foundation is the first layer upon which vintage furniture, fine fabrics and vital color are added: the original properties of the Dakota itself, and her mother’s Persian Tabriz silk rugs. “We redid the floors to the exact pattern of the original floors,” Sasha explains. The new pickled wood floors adhere to the original pattern, while also lightening up the rooms with their pale, whitewashed quality. The Persian Tabriz rugs— stunning pieces of art in their own right—inspired Sasha’s color palette for the rooms in which they lay underfoot. These rugs invite emerald, ultramarine and rose to the select gala of colors cavorting through this sumptuous home. Sasha also points out that they lacquered the walls, most remarkably in one of those intense accent colors. “Getting a perfect lacquer finish takes a great deal of skill and is very labor-intensive. The trick is all in the prep when you are painting and sanding,” she confides. “But the finish is a beautiful high-gloss lacquer statement wall that

In other rooms, Sasha layered silk wallpaper onto the walls to cultivate a certain mood. “Hand-painted silk wallpaper was installed on some of the walls by letting gauze cure on the walls beforehand,” she notes. In the master bedroom, an opulent Japanese-inspired depiction of wisteria drips down the walls from the high ceiling; the wisteria seems to hang caught between breezes across the walls. “My mom had once lived in Aix-en-Provence and loved the fields of lavender,” Sasha reminisces. “de Gournay ’s hand-painted Wisteria wallpaper was a natural fit.” Colorful Commitment So many people—indeed, the majority—have flinched away from bright, vivid colors in their homes; this is a trend Sasha Bikoff bucks in her own work and can’t wait to see change. “I think people are afraid to use color and tend to opt for neutrals because it’s safe,” she says. “Smaller rooms are ideal for color because it creates a little jewel box of a room.” This philosophy is modeled splendidly in the Dakota study, with its blue-lacquered walls: East Coast Home + Design

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The golden-yellow decorative background element, original to the Dakota, plays well with lacquered walls of Yves Klein-style blue.

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A Pierre Cardin white-lacquered console table sits under a Holly Hunt mirror edged in zebra-patterned material, through which a vintage clock can be seen on the opposite wall.

White oak ceiling panels and a polished brass mandala chandelier from John Salibello enliven the salon’s dining area.

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far from being overwhelming, the gleaming blue soothes the eye. It provides the perfect setting for a handsome Ralph Lauren Home desk and accompanying chair, backed by a glistening white, sealed fireplace. The fireplace mantel, original to the Dakota, serves as an impromptu bookshelf featuring a row of books flanked by antique crystal urns mounted on bronze, with bases of lapis lazuli—glamorous bookends for this incredible jewel of a study. A groovy Pierre Cardin white-lacquered console table displays more books, and a Holly Hunt mirror edged in zebra material reflects a vintage clock on the opposite wall. “I used darker tones with the zebra stripes, ebony furniture and deep red spindle chairs, which all are inspired by my mom’s cherished Persian rugs,” Sasha notes. This same philosophy produced the salon chairs covered in jade Ralph Lauren Palace Silk Velvet, and the malachite green of the

Brunschwig & Fils silk curtains in the closet. Sasha doesn’t stop at playing with lively colors: she began her career as she means to go on, making fearless choices to achieve stunning backdrops for everyday life. She embraces bold patterns as readily as vibrant shades, which are scattered throughout the apartment in the study ’s zebra print-upholstered Ralph Lauren desk chair, the salon’s leopard print-covered ottomans and the mesmerizing custom Robert Allen malachite lampshades in the expansive once-bedroom now walk-in closet. Pattern becomes art when it’s writ large in wallcoverings, as shown by the de Gournay Wisteria wallpaper in the master bedroom. A de Gournay wallpaper also sheathes the walls of the apartment’s entryway: the lush foliage illustrated in monochrome across the L’Eden hand-painted silk wallpaper captures the attention of everyone[OK as edited?] who steps East Coast Home + Design

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In the master bedroom, lilac bed curtains of Oscar de la Renta silk play off a Timothy Oulton velvet sofa in purple, while a Philip and Kelvin LaVernedesigned table (circa 1960s) steals the show.

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through this apartment’s doors. Detailed Enchantment An extravagance of captivating details put the finishing touches on this apartment, delicately forging disparate elements into a cohesive lifescape. “The style is meant to channel a mix of French rococo and French midcentury for a chic aesthetic that also draws upon Italian antiques, whimsical accents and a touch of disco,” Sasha explainss. “Having lived on the Le SaintLouis and attended the Sorbonne, I also incorporated my mother’s appreciation for French aesthetic.” Lavish chandeliers perfectly encompass these intentions: the multitiered Marie Antoinette chandelier by Bisazza, featuring black lampshades among scintillating crystal, cuts a dramatic figure over the salon, while another Marie Antoinette chandelier illuminates the dining table in white light. A breathtaking French Bronze Palm Chandelier by Baguès is an absolute showstopper in the entryway. Elsewhere, the lighting stands as fascinating sculptural components—two floor lamps by Tommaso Barbi lend metallic organic elements through the shapes of flowers and leaves. Sasha’s tribute to her mother and French influences extend to opulent detailing as well. “Throughout the entire apartment,” she says, “24k gold leaf detail on the moldings and fireplaces pay homage to Versailles and Marie Antoinette.” There’s more gilt to go around: in the walk-in closet, an antique giltwood mirror shaped like a sunburst ornaments one wall, while 18th-century gilded trumeau mirrors Sasha found while antiquing in Paris flank the salon’s double doors leading to the study. Art can be functional as well, which is shown to compelling effect in the fashionista’s dream of a walk-in closet. (Yes, Sasha converted one of the apartment’s bedrooms into an expansive walk-in closet!) Built-ins were installed in the walls to provide floor-to-ceiling hanging space for garments, tastefully covered with crisp shades when access is not required. On display in this space are various fine shoes that are pieces of art in themselves—a pair of Manolo Blahniks and a pair of Alaïa heels perch on a Dorothy Draper-designed dresser between snake-wrapped lamps East Coast Home + Design

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found at auction in Palm Beach. A striking Charlotte Olympia boot in red and black is displayed on a rustic stool by Andrianna Shamaris with ornamented legs. Shoes aren’t the only functional art on display—Sasha also understands the beauty of Louis Vuitton, and one of LV’s exemplary cases is displayed on the study ’s fireplace mantel. Not all art is meant solely to be admired, and Sasha’s design aes46

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thetic in this Dakota apartment revels in that philosophy. Art is meant to be moved through and lived with—it uplifts our days, captures our spirits and can even be worn or traveled with in several fantastic cases. When crafting a tailored lifescape for her clients, whether her beloved mother or a stranger she’s only just met, Sasha brings her nuanced layering, bold colors and captivating details to bear. She creates stage after stage where life can unfold.


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A glossy black dresser with white accents designed by Dorothy Draper offers a stark counterpoint to the closet’s extravagance.

Resources: Interior Designer & CEO Sasha Bikoff Interior Design Sasha Bikoff New York, NY 10013 646.524.5941 sashabikoff.com

Comfortable seating is provided by a De Sede vintage sofa with antique pillows from India and a cashmere and feathered blanket; an acrylic coffee table designed by Sasha Bikoff sits before the sofa on a Persian Tariz rug.

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DESIGN DEFINED Our favorite architects are assigned a term in design and asked how it integrates into their visions


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nyone familiar with my work knows that the use of symmetry resonates deeply in just about everything I design. Symmetry, very simply, is the equal arrangement of parts or elements about a plane or point. Symmetry is everywhere and has a long history in both the natural world and the man-made

environment. It is easily the most recognizable, familiar and pleasing ordering principle in design and architecture. I think the fact that symmetry, particularly in architectural design, is so satisfying is due partly to the human need for order and arrangement, as well as the fact that, as Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing demonstrated, it reflects the human body, which has a right side and a left, a back and a front, and the navel in the very center. Symmetry is also strengthened by its purity and perfection, which have helped create some of the most sacred and special places on Earth. I am generally inspired by classical architecture, a design based completely on the most rigid order of symmetry. The design challenge with symmetry is incorporating its use into modern building and floor plans that must function properly and respond to the desires and needs of clients. In this way, symmetry in my practice sometimes becomes more generalized as an East Coast Home + Design

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overall ordering principle and a bit less rigid. The “appearance” of symmetry sometimes becomes the necessary goal, versus actual symmetry. This can be challenging, as a lot of design value can be lost in the gray area between the appearance and the actual. Ironically, this has changed for me over time as I’ve become more comfortable with aspects of asymmetry in my work. As you gain experience in design and construction, you have a better understanding of what works and doesn’t work within the general framework of the project. As such, you can make better, more educated decisions about form versus function. The concepts of balance, proportion and detail start to become important, especially if you are working on larger, more complex designs with a more specific architectural program of spaces.

Photo credit: Jane Beiles

Our firm generally views each project as client-specific and works to create custom solutions that respond to the client’s wishes, the environment and the historical context of the project. The underlying design philosophy of the firm centers on the idea that the careful application of the design principles of simplicity, consistency and authenticity will yield a timeless work of architecture regardless of the style or type of building East Coast Home + Design

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very project begins with an assessment of a client’s goals and design preferences, of course, but finding a solution that both reflects those goals and fits comfortably into the surroundings— the “vernacular”—is the architect’s challenge. In the 21st century, it is often difficult to decide exactly what the local vernacular is for a particular location. Traditionally, “vernacular architecture” has been that which reflects local building traditions, materials and, thus, aesthetics. A familiar example is the old, gray-shingled fisherman’s cottages on Nantucket Island, utilizing materials and forms perfectly suited to their climate and use. But site features such as stone walls, topography, plantings and the best location of a house on the land —not only the scale of neighboring homes—are equally as important and can help “ground” the design. None of this suggests to me that a new house must be of the same style as 52


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its neighbors, although it certainly must be a good neighbor. While I love white Colonial houses (and grew up in a 1740s farmhouse), the current proliferation of new modern farmhouses has led to many poorly detailed and overscaled houses that suggest more concern with fashion than anything else. In the end, they really don’t fit in as comfortably as they should. In every house I design, I try very hard to use local, traditional materials in a way that a relationship to the surroundings can be seen. I have designed many modern homes that, while of concern to neighbors while under construction, have subsequently been recognized as fitting right in. A very modern ski house in Vermont, recently completed, sits quietly among its Jackson Hole lodge-style neighbors by virtue of its low profile on the landscape and creative use of native stone and dark wood siding. In my mind, that house is more in the spirit of Vermont vernacular homes than the nearby log mega-houses. In many ways, designing “transitional” houses is great fun, as modern ideas and traditional forms need to be balanced carefully and appropriately. That design effort is a place I especially enjoy working. Understanding the vernacular architecture of a region—the traditional buildings built 50, 100 or 200 years ago in the area—is one important starting point for the design of a home. But it should not be the only one!

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veryone has heard the phrase “God is in the details,� by Mies van der Rohe. The details are the culmination of the design where the project is at an intimate scale. Details transform a project into something special. At Alisberg Parker, we believe in bringing the same level of design integrity to every facet of a project. From the alignment of a grout line to a piece of cabinetry to the coordinating fabric patterns into the larger motif, making correct choices accentuates the overall finished product.


Details make life easier, like utensil holders in kitchen drawers, or USB chargers by a bedside table. Details create holistic environments, like coordinating door, window and cabinet hardware. Details reflect level of craft, like a bracketed cornice or a properly proportioned entablature. In our work, Alisberg Parker focuses on all details. We design a home from its overall concept down to the doorstop hardware. Our interior design department allows us to continue the design into the furnish-


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ings, art and fabrics, creating a consistent whole. Detailing for every project is different: it is a reflection of our client’s needs and personalities, which are shown in the final product. Some details are timeless—classic details like dentil molding and brackets, brick jack arches and keystones. Other details reflect the time—TV niches, Sonos systems and smart homes. Detailing and architectural design constantly change because of new materials and technology. We get to know our clients and their tastes. It is our job to introduce ideas that work with the overall design aesthetic and solve a need our clients may have. We often present various ideas to settle an issue based on budget and design sensibility, discussing the options and the pros and cons of each to help the client make informed decisions. Our vision is to create beautiful projects based on our client’s tastes. We don’t have a signature architectural style, but work well in various typologies. Each project gets our personal attention to design and detail, as we create a custom home that reflects our client’s personality and needs. East Coast Home + Design

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believe the term “avant-garde” has different connotations for different professions. For our profession, I would define it as “progressive approach in design.” We try to be in the forefront of our profession, everything from design to implementation of design. We like to believe that we go beyond the “up-to-date” line of thought, and actually look for the new boundaries. Everything we call “classic” or “traditional” today was once an avant-garde expression. Every switch in styles was revolution in design. We try to leave a mark behind, and whether or not we like it, we will be history ourselves at some point.

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Every client we have lives in the present and expects a product that relates to a contemporary lifestyle, regardless of whether the final product is modern or traditional. And here is where progressive thought comes into action. Avantgarde is not necessarily breaking the rules, but constantly modifying and reinterpreting them. It’s a very subtle and delicate process, and it requires a very intricate thought process. Look, learn and listen. Everything from a bird nest to the sound of the wind can trigger an emotion, a thought, an idea. The next step is putting that vision into reality. And if that turns out to be a new design direction, maybe we can call it “avant-garde.”

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In most traditional architecture, which is still favored for residences, the fenestration of a house is particularly important. The placement of windows creates a rhythm that can feel harmonious or awkward. Windows that are too large in relation to the surrounding siding look silly, and if they are too small they look cheap and don’t allow enough natural light into a house. Of course, fenestration is also related to architectural style or The spacing needs to be symmetrical off a center line, and not vernacular. Homes built before the days of central heating and too close or too far apart. the technology to produce large sections of plate glass tended to have smaller multi-paned windows. When glassmaking was Although the principle of the Golden Section (the ratio of improved (late 1800s, Victorian, Shingle Style, etc.), there was 1:1.68, or phi) seems to “explain” much about what we hua trend toward larger windows, often grouped, with some sashes man beings perceive as beautiful—be it faces, flowers or buildwith no muntins (dividing bars), or two-over-two lite windows. ings—it is difficult to say exactly what makes the fenestration As glass technology and heating and cooling improved, modern of a building beautiful. As with so much about good design, it architecture with fenestration that is mostly—if not all—glass just is. became popular, especially for commercial buildings.


enestration relates intimately with symmetry, balance, proportion and scale. Most important to me is the natural light that windows invite into a building, along with the views out from the various rooms and hallways. Light is so important to the human spirit.


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Symmetrical / Asymmetrical


uch of classical architecture was based on symmetry—space formed by order. Consider the American college campus or the government building, where both the building design and urban contextual design are symmetrical, much like Versailles once we see beyond its grandness. Colonial American residential architecture is much the same way: comfortable.

In New England, the advent of the Shingle Style began to convey the house as a volume—the building as an envelope of different spaces, rather than the mass of symmetry. The interior spaces want to be different in scale, want to bend toward a view, playing a hierarchy 62

that isn’t possible in the sterile layouts of Colonial symmetry.

Our clients hire us for what we do. For example, if you have a living room and want the fireplace in a certain spot that isn’t centered, we can create symmetrical shelving on either side of the fireplace, and then create a window or “void” within the leftover part. Now it’s “symmetrically asymmetrical”! Historical examples of this include Chartres Cathedral, “symmetrically asymmetrical” about its north/south axis, where the asymmetrical motifs energize within a symmetrical composition, and vice versa. One depends on the other, point-counterpoint. The two spires are symmetrically about the center axis and tell the same story as each other, but are completely


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different. Window scale and placement speak to each other, as does their width. Movement! Musical! We “just design,” as if we were creating a musical piece. Which notes are accentuated? How do we build up to those? Where is the crescendo? We don’t seek to create any certain way; it just happens based on what looks and feels right: the balance, the movement, etc. We experience art differently. We hear music differently. We read literature differently. There is a movement, a structural framework that underlies order, a rhythm and a singular note. Architecture uses all of this, combining the subconscious with the physical. Aesthetic meets form, function and scale, drawing us in—to wonder. East Coast Home + Design

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cale is about measurement and how it relates to something else. Architects use scale from the macro to the micro: appropriate size of the building in relationship to its site. The individual components of the building—such as room size and height, finishes, doors, windows and built-ins—are designed to relate in scale and proportion to each other. One can use scale to exaggerate and give a sense of importance, such as the Lincoln Memorial, or to be intimate and personal, such as a lamp and bedside table. My firm, Elizabeth Jahn Architecture first looks at how the building relates East Coast Home + Design


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to the site and landscape. In the White Fall Pavilion, the pool house sits on an edge of the property that falls into a stream bordered by trees. The pool house defines the edge, and the trees form a backdrop to give a sense of place and context to the building.

the high clerestory windows. The interior of the Vermont Guest House has similar elements used differently. The upper windows are individual, the beams are aged, the floor is traditional wood and the boards are painted. Each element contributes to the scale, yet the style is different.

The rooms of a house are designed in relation to the overall body of the house. In the Vermont Guest House, for example, the interior contains a double-height space that does not reveal itself from the outside. The exterior is designed with upper windows to resemble a traditional second story and keep the building at a more modest scale, so the double-height space is a surprise when you walk into the house. The interior of the double-height space has levels of detail—including the beams, horizontal board wainscot and stone chimney—to bring warmth, texture and life to the room. The details give a sense of comfort by relating to you on a human scale.

Every client is unique, and thus every project reflects that. We listen, interpret the goals of our clients and share ideas about the project. Initially, we will provide options at schematic design and get reactions and comments from the client. Design meetings are very interactive, and we find the design evolves over the process and gets more specific and tailored to our clients’ needs. We use our expertise and experience to guide them through the choices, whether it be a room size or a sink specification.

Styles may change, and how one uses scale in those styles of architecture may be different. For example, in the modern pool house, we used horizontal boarding, oversize shower tiles, large concrete floor tiles to define the walls, and ceilings and floors in the interior of the changing room, while infusing it with lots of natural light with

Our team believes design is a collaborative process and each project is unique. We are involved in all phases from schematic design through construction, working with different-sized projects and budgets tailored to fit our client’s needs. We are committed to design excellence and strive to build in harmony with our natural surroundings to produce buildings that are well scaled, detailed and crafted.

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ood design is all about balance. Just as in other forms of design, balance in architecture is achieved when there is an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements. Architectural design is unique, however, in that it must also solve functional needs. The role of the architect is to balance functional requirements with aesthetic considerations to enhance people’s lives and generate a sense of comfort and well-being.

meaningful about it. We are always balancing the cost of certain design decisions with their relative contribution to the overall design. Our clients do not have unlimited budgets, so we are making value judgments all the time, identifying what is most important in a design solution.

I would call “balance” a design principle. For me, balance is independent of style, and has been a component of design thinking since humans have thought creatively about their environment. We balance the conceptual ideas that underpin our designs with Vitruvius, the ancient Roman architect, believed that buildings the details and materials that support them and bring them to should be designed applying a balance of firmitas (strength), utililife. In our designs for buildings and spaces, we balance what is tas (functionality) and venustas (beauty). appreciated and relevant now with what is timeless and durable for Even though the materials and the methods of construction may the future. differ vastly, balance is an ingredient in all good architecture, from When developing a site strategy to support our building designs, New England’s vernacular dwellings to Philip Johnson’s Glass we seek to establish a balance between making new design interven- House. Formal balance has historically been thought to be symtions in a site, while preserving what is inherently beautiful and metrical, especially for monumental or civic buildings. Meanwhile, 68


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Balance informal balance—that is, asymmetrical or partially symmetrical—has been used as an organizing principle in buildings of the Arts and Crafts period, or in Case Study Houses of the mid-century. Our work consists of both symmetrical and asymmetrical elements, which we believe add interest when combined. We believe that listening to our clients regarding their needs and dreams is the starting place. Once we understand their goals, we seek to study the context of the project—whether a remodel, addition or new home—and evaluate, with them, what is important about the original conditions that should be preserved, responded

to or even celebrated. We design environments to enrich people’s lives. We believe that beauty is the result of design solutions that emerge from authentic conversations with our clients, an understanding of the context, a commitment to ideas, and a love of materials and craft. Providing personal attention and applying nearly 30 years of experience, we help our clients stretch their imaginations to realize their dreams. We feel honored to be entrusted as architect and designer with what is often their most personal asset, their home. East Coast Home + Design

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atural light is the primary design element, defining the form and enhancing the best qualities of a home. When direct sunlight plays along paneling or any textured surface, it creates wonderful moving displays, while filtered sunlight softens a room and brings a calm vibe to the space. Daylight streaming from above gives a bright and sunny feel to a room with only a northern exposure. In creating a room, I always aim for at least two exposures to natural light; the second exposure enhances a room over one with a single exposure. Natural light, whether sunlight or moonlight, is the intangible yet essential and invaluable design element that brings life to a home Beyond natural light, placement and selection of light fixtures plays just as crucial a role in creating quality spaces that clients respond to in a very positive way. Tangible elements create the look, while intangible lighting effects create the feel and enhance the comfort. I approach a project by first observing how the natural and artificial light illuminates the existing home. I then evaluate how the clients’ design goals can inspire changes to improve and enhance the quality of the home. This includes evaluating with clients the important views out, as well as how light and shadow impact the exterior of the house. I then use their insights to introduce varying sources of light into the architecture. Porches play an important role in designing homes, as the new homes of today have high ceilings, leading to large façades that can effectively be scaled down by the play of light and shadow that porches create.


Because we can create energy-efficient and comfortable homes with large windows, the inclusion of large areas of glass has become common in homes over the past 30 years. Gradually, as technology has changed, the size of windows in homes has increased. I begin each project by listening and absorbing the client’s requests and preferences for the project, and then creating a very informal presentation of preliminary design solutions. It is not unusual for two design solutions to be reviewed and compared. This discussion is invaluable, as we together explore how best to make the project suit their life as well as their budget. The understanding of design choices is so important in the early stages as we set priorities and investigate solutions, before lots of time and money have been spent developing the project. Architecture is a service profession. While the art of architecture is critical, service to the client is the foundation of my business. I am there to guide clients through the entire process, whether it is the renovation of their existing home or the creation of a new one from the ground up.



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ernacular architecture refers to the building traditions that have developed over time in response to the climate, locally available construction materials, and social and cultural needs. As these typologies were developed before we learned to control our climate through heating and cooling, there is a wisdom contained within vernacular architecture regarding how these buildings perform, both environmentally and culturally, that make them sustainable. The connection to geography and place mean these buildings belong and contribute positively to make the places we live more beautiful.

a sustainable certification, and literally down the road from the project site.

Although I don’t think today ’s architecture needs to look like the traditional vernacular buildings of our region, I do believe our buildings need to perform with the climate of the Northeast so we can be comfortable with as little energy input as possible. This means balancing the needs of our hot, humid summers with those of our diametrically opposite cold, dry winters. Daylighting and visual connection to the outdoors are always important aspects of how I approach every project. I love using natural local materials, and in this studio, the granite piers supporting the west side are from the Stony Creek Granite quarry, one of only four quarries in the country with

Today, with climate change on everybody ’s mind, sustainability has been fully embraced by the architectural profession. Whereas in the 70s, sustainable design was peripheral to the profession as a whole, and thought of as having a “technical” look, sustainable design today is synonymous with good design and doesn’t necessarily have an associated aesthetic. As we design Net-Zero and Living buildings that generate all their own energy, architects have had to embrace passive design principles. This has meant a return to thinking regionally and looking to the vernacular built fabric of a place.


One challenge of the photo studio was to plan for the future so that as my clients age, the studio and darkroom could transition to a first-floor master bedroom and bathroom. Their current bedroom is on the second floor of a historic 1700s house with a very narrow and steep staircase. Thinking about this ultimate transition in use meant we were approaching the design with a long-time horizon, another important aspect of sustainability.


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Vernacular Sustainability

I believe that part of sustainability is doing more with less—an economy of means and maximizing the impact of the design decisions that are made. My inspiration comes from the local geography and climate, and the beauty and irregularity of the natural world. As long as spaces are designed with good daylight and ventilation, comfortable proportions and enduring materials, they can adapt over time and continue to serve as places where our lives are lived. Ultimately, my hope is for my architecture to uplift and inspire, and to create spaces where people want to be. East Coast Home + Design

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A Before

transformed house goes way beyond the scope of a typical home remodeling project. It is a completely new reenvisioning of what a house can be at its very best, how it can function to best support and enhance the lives of the occupants. Transforming a house at the very least involves unifying a hodgepodge of stylistic features, rectifying bad design or resolving an unfortunate sequence of previous repairs and DIY remodeling that don’t quite work. But it can also be an entirely new and exciting architectural statement. Whether a Colonial, cape, farmhouse, ranch or raised ranch, any house can be transformed to something entirely different in style and appearance.


can be expanded—or the opposite, where a large space is subdivided to create an additional bedroom or more closets and storage rooms. For me, the process of transformation begins with identifying and preserving all the design elements of the house that are architecturally worth redeeming and fit the client’s program. What emerges is a single harmonious architectural expression that is at once beautiful and cohesive. A transformed house is the ultimate before and after project. Imagine you can wave an architectural magic wand and instantly change a frog-of-a-house into a stunningly beautiful and radiant home that you fall in love with. This is what transforming a house is all about.

Transforming a house is much more than removing walls so a space My work style and design approach is very collaborative and client 74


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driven. There are specific skills and tools that I as the architect bring to the table, but it is the client who leads the way with a program of what they want the project to accomplish. In fact, in terms of the design process, there are really three players: the client, the architect and the house itself. Over time, as I have worked on project after project and dealt with all the typical problems and constraints, I have learned to identify what an existing house lends itself to in terms of alterations. I have learned to assess the potential for how a house can be transformed. One of the biggest challenges is getting the client to be able to see and understand the new design ideas independent of the existing house. It is very difficult for clients to imagine anything other than what exists. It is especially hard if, over time, the client has developed emotional connections to the peculiarities of the house and all its idiosyncrasies, even if these are things you’d never want in a house in the first place. It is my job to use all the tools in my envisioning tool bag to help the client be able to see, simulate and experience new ideas for proposed spaces. The idea of transformation in architecture, particularly when referring to residential projects and single-family homes, is an exciting and rewarding process. Although it is not always the easiest, or least expensive, option for homeowners contemplating major improvements to their home, the final result is always extraordinary and amazing.


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A Modern Makeover Old meets new in this full renovation in Greenwich, Connecticut Story by Emily Ballard | Photography by Peter Brown & John Woodruff

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The reconstructed front entry was built with a stone veneer masonry to blend with existing structure. Custom gas lanterns were added to provide a warm welcome.

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riginally built as a spec house, this almost 14,000-square-foot home sat vacant for years after the 2008 market crash. A young family that resided in the same neighborhood took notice of its potential and saw the opportunity to upgrade the property and customize it to the home they desired. They hired Ben Krupinski Builders to make their dream a reality. Ben Krupinski has been in the building business for nearly 40 years. What started as a window installation for someone who needed help has grown and evolved into a well-respected business that focuses on residential projects of various scales, including new homes, renovations and remodels. With three offices and projects that cast a wide geographical net, the firm always strives to deliver quality work and build trusted client relationships. Christopher Quinn is the managing director of the Connecticut office, covering Connecticut, Westchester and New York City. Coming from a construction family, Chris comes by his craft

honestly. Shortly after graduating college he started working with Ben and has stayed on for over 12 years. He believes that their collaborative, hands-on approach with clients is what sets them apart from other firms. “We pride ourselves on being custom builders that are custom solution finders,” says Chris. “We never try to repeat something because it was easy.” Getting to the Bones This Belle Haven waterfront property was in need of a major overhaul to fit the clients’ needs and wants. The owners hired architectural firm Robert Cardello from Norwalk, CT, to draw up the plans, and enlisted Brian J. McCarthy of New York City for a full interior design. After the architectural set of plans was decided upon, Ben Krupinski Builders was asked to develop a budget number for the project. The firm took that number directly to the homeowner and began deciding how to allocate the funds, where to spend money and what alternatives were available to cut costs. Chris refers to this as “value engineering,” a process by which the team East Coast Home + Design

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The custom-built lighting fixture cascades down three stories, and was commissioned by an artist to fit this unique structure with an awe-inspiring statement.

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works with the client to optimize the budget to capture the same look as the architectural design, but goes about it in a different, cost-efficient manner. This involves determining the most important elements and must-haves of the client. “That was one of the biggest things the owner liked about it,” says Chris. “They were able to achieve the final look of what the design was, and save money while value engineering it.” This was important for a project of this magnitude. By working with these expert builders, the clients were able to get the same results with a few adjustments and compromises. For the homeowners, it was essential to focus on the finishes, such as high-gloss paint, and specialty plumbing fixtures. Of course, these were just pieces of the puzzle. This was not new construction—there was an already existing structure—but almost all features were stripped away for a full-scale reconstruction. “Basically, it was a full gut renovation to the house,” Chris explains. “We took all the interiors out and ended up taking off most of the exterior finishes as well, changing the entire architectural vernacular and language of the house, both interior and exterior.” The next step was rebuilding. With only the skeleton of the house remaining, it was time to create new mechanical systems, electrical systems, plumbing, cabinetry, flooring, doors and windows. The team sourced marble, wood and stone materials. One of the unique features of this property is its location. The house is tucked away on a site that used to be an old quarry that has historical significance: it was the source of all the stone found at the base of the George Washington Bridge. This secluded waterfront property on the Long Island Sound would be a challenge to build on today with current building codes, thus a full renovation was much more advantageous to the homeowners. To maintain some of the original feel of the home, the team was able to use materials that fit the unique language of the structure, especially the exterior stone veneer of the house. “When you are walking around the property, you feel you are in something that has been around for awhile and not a brand-new construction,” says Chris. “We never want to make it feel like a museum. We build homes and these homes get lived in, and we wanted it to feel comfortable for the clients.”

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Transformation With a custom design in place and a plan for executing it, it was time to get to work. Over a period of 16 months, the home would experience a complete revamp and emerge with a face that nods to the original, but has a life all its own. Builders removed the entire roof, replaced it with a Vermont gray slate and framed new dormers. They replaced the stucco siding with new cedar siding and new trim, and installed new custom wood windows and doors. They removed and replaced an existing tower with a larger conservatory featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and copper roofing. Keeping with the original landscape, Ben and his team refurbished the pool area to reflect the color and texture of the sandstone patio. The homeowners can enjoy the expansive views of the sound from the custom-designed balconies and decks. The team redesigned the front entrance to create a more inviting atmosphere with gas lanterns and a covered porch that ties in with the rest of the home. “Because the house is so large, the architects didn’t want you to feel that when you pulled up the driveway, East Coast Home + Design

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The master bathroom was fitted with new marble flooring, showers and countertops, creating an airy space with clean lines and amazing views.

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it was imposing on you and you felt dwarfed,” Chris says. “We wanted it to feel like people were invited to the front door as opposed to an overpowering massive house when you stood in front.” In the interior of the home, the builders removed and replaced all existing trim, sheetrock and insulation. They accommodated the client’s request for a new floor plan on the third floor, adding new steel columns for support after some structural inefficiencies were revealed. Barrel-vaulted ceilings were added along with

new oak flooring throughout, with the exception of the living room, where antique original flooring was refinished to resurrect existing luster. Ben’s team added decorative Venetian plaster to the formal living room and stair tower, installed marble flooring and new showers in the master bathrooms, and updated kitchenware and countertops in the kitchen. They updated and refinished almost all areas, including the butler’s pantry, kitchen and kitchen office, family room, mudroom, master bath, kids’ homework room, library and East Coast Home + Design

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library office. To say this was an extensive project would be an understatement. Livable Space It was important for this family to have ample and usable space for the children. The renovation included a sports court with authentic maple flooring, equipped with a basketball hoop and a climbing wall. Beyond that is the homework room, and adjacent to that hallway are the children’s bedrooms. “They wanted to make that feel like the children’s wing, so as they grow up and have more friends when they get older, they don’t feel like this is the formal living room where they are not allowed to put their feet up,” Chris explains. To enhance the space even further, the team finished the basement with a new gym with rubber flooring, a kid’s movie space 88

and a future wine cellar. The goal was to increase comfort levels without sacrificing design style. Each project taken on by Ben Krupinski Builders is customized and unique to the client, and this property is chock full of one-of-a-kind details that distinguish it from any other home. The winding stairwell with custom metal railings and stonework shines with impressive natural light, and is a highlight to an already breathtaking environment. The intricate lighting throughout the house was designed by Christian Rae Studio of Norwalk, and the impressive light fixture that seems to float down the stairwell is a commissioned, custom piece of art. The artist came to the house and saw the size of the stairwell, then coordinated with the interior designer


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It was essential to create a usable and fun area for the entire family, and the children can enjoy a gym with maple flooring for basketball or climbing.

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to create this light piece, which illuminates three stories. All lighting fixtures were designed to enable a more energy-efficient space. A project of this size and scale is successful only when the multiple teams can work together and coordinate. “With a good architect, a talented interior designer and a builder that can hold to realistic time frames and budgets, this made for a smooth execution and a beautiful outcome,” says Chris. This amazing feat was accomplished by expert designers and executed by seasoned builders. Ben Krupinski Builders has stayed in business for 40 years because it approaches each client and project with a hands-on approach. Chris says the firm’s reputation and approach ensures the happiness of their clients. “We will jump through whichever hoop and value engineer, and go the extra mile to ensure they are receiving the best possible project,” he says. “We would much rather roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty than push paperwork.” A home of this magnitude can be built only by utilizing the best of the best when it comes to resources and manpower. The homeowners expected to be wowed—and this home certainly does not disappoint. Resources Builder Ben Krupinski Builders 13 Arcadia Road, Suite 12 Old Greenwich, CT 06870 203.990.0633 bkbuilder.com Architect Robert Cardello 97 Washington Street South Norwalk, CT 06854 203.853.2524 cardelloarchitects.com Interior Design Brian J. McCarthy 57 West 57th Street, Suite 505 New York, NY 10019 212.308.7600 bjminc.com

Built on an old rock quarry, it was important to the homeowners and builders to maintain elements of the original building.

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Lighting Christian Rae Studio 8 Knight Street Norwalk, CT 06851 203.939.1505 christianraestudio.com

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DELVE INTO DECO On October 5th, Heidi Holzer Decorative Work and East Coast Home + Design hosted a demostration of a variety of faboulous finishes to selected architects, builders and interior designers at Heidi Holzer’s studio in West Redding, Connecticut. Guests were challanged with an interactive quest through Heidi’s spectacular home and studio and prizes were awarded to the people who could identify the finishes used in the various spaces. 92

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11/13/17 12:45 AM


The Shade Store Opens Flagship Showroom in SoHo


ith a major nationwide expansion well underway, The Shade Store, a leading resource for premium custom window treatments, opens an expansive new flagship showroom in SoHo, New York. With 57 showrooms now open nationwide and six in New York City alone, the new SoHo location represents the largest showroom in Manhattan. Located in the heart of SoHo on Wooster Street (77 Wooster Street), the new showroom features an open floorplan showcasing The Shade Store’s vast range of custom window treatments, including new collections by Nate Berkus, The Novogratz and Ralph Lauren. At 2,400 square feet, the SoHo showroom is The Shade Store’s largest showroom in the greater New York area and is nearly five times the size of the original showroom. It replaces the previous SoHo location at 198 Spring Street and joins other New York City locations including standalone locations on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Midtown and Williamsburg and a shopin-shop in Kravet at the New York Design Center. “SoHo is where we opened our very first showroom in 2008 and as the business has grown, we’ve realized the need for a much larger showroom to accommodate our expanded product offering and the heavy foot traffic that the neighborhood draws,” said Ian Gibbs, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer “When we learned that the Wooster Street building had an opening, it was a simple, strategic choice for the brand to move to this new location which allows us to enhance the customer experience and better position ourselves as their premium resource for window treatments in NYC.”

Upon entering the SoHo flagship, customers will be greeted by a cast iron façade with beautiful architectural details and heavy wooden doors. The interior features large work areas, a conference table and comfortable lounge areas below a decorative tin ceiling showcasing classic downtown Manhattan style. Both consumers and design professionals alike can enjoy a seamless shopping experience courtesy of expert design consultants who are able to assist in every step of the window treatment selection process, from inspiration to installation – including free professional window measurements. Customers can choose free swatches from an exclusive collection of 1,300+ instock materials for Roller Shades, Solar Shades, Roman Shades, and Drapery to take home and test with their windows and interior color scheme. A bold mix of classic and modern patterns will be available for customers to choose from, with new collections and classic designs alike featured prominently in inspirational vignettes. “We work seamlessly with professional designers to help you achieve the perfect style for your clients.” said Michael Crotty, Chief Marketing Officer “Our goal is to make your job easier. We want you to be able to focus on the rest of the room while we help create the perfect, luxury custom window treatments.” The Shade Store 77 Wooster Street New York, NY 10012 646.783.4218 theshadestore.com East Coast Home + Design

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11/13/17 12:10 AM


Function Meets Innovation with Style

The new release of the EB 333 oven commemorates the impressive 333rd anniversary of Gaggenau.


hree decades ago, Gaggenau released the EB 300, a 36-inch oven that became an icon and a favorite for home chefs. Its sleek design and intuitive functionality ensured the longevity of the product. This year, Gaggenau introduced a redesign of the EB 300 to coincide with the company’s 333rd anniversary. The new model retains the avant-garde design with stainlesssteel materials, but features the latest technology upgrades, such as a TFT touch display for heat management. Gaggenau is the largest manufacturer of home appliances in Europe, and one of the leading companies in the industry worldwide. When the original EB 300 was introduced to Europe, it was a revolutionary and well-received product. Inspired by the size and style of American range cookers, the oven was built with a distinctive aesthetic, utilizing clean lines with a minimalist approach. Its state-of-the-art design blended tradition with modern features, creating a professional cooking experience. Craftsmanship remains of the utmost importance to the brand. The newly released EB 333 is constructed by hand, utilizing quality select materials. It stays true to the original design and is engineered for substantial durability, yet with effortless ease of use. Revisions to the interior design correspond with the latest concepts in lighting and functionality. Consumers


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can choose between black or stainless-steel control knobs. The front door remains 36 inches wide and is 3 mm thick, and is equipped with soft opening and closing technology for enhanced user experience. Epitomizing the Gaggenau experience, the EB 333 celebrates history and consistency, yet paves the way to the future. This German company dates back to 1683, and has been a subsidiary of BSH Hausgerate GmbH in Munich since 1995. Its rich history has pioneered the evolution of the kitchen. Gaggenau leads the industry by creating the highest standards for design and construction: indeed, its products are internationally acclaimed and known for innovative technology, revolutionary design and maximized functionality. Authenticity, quality and efficiency are just a few of the attributes that chefs and consumers enjoy when they use a Gaggenau oven. Available at: Aitoro Appliances 401 Westport Avenue Norwalk, CT 06851 203.847.2471 aitoro.com


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HOBI 2017 Award Winner Karen Bradbury Story by Ashley Rose Marino


aren Bradbury and her Closet & Storage Concepts team in Norwalk, CT, have been creating entirely custom design solutions for every room and lifestyle since 2012.

Karen believes her background in global corporate real estate prepared her for her switch to the custom home organization field. The two occupations are very similar, she says, in that both ask the same question: “How you can use space as efficiently as possible and work within a fixed budget?” Karen found that returning to her roots as an interior designer was a happy change of pace from living out of her suitcase and traveling the globe. She was delighted to become part of the Closet & Storage Concepts network, which for 30+ years has been working to bring clients across the nation the best in custom cabinetry. “The real distinction between us and our competitors is our approach to servicing our clients, the time and effort we put into the design process, and understanding our clients’ requirements,” says Karen. Many companies design on-site while the clients are present which takes considerable time and design under pressure does not always yield the best results. Karen takes a different approach. “We spend our time with the client asking questions, reviewing their wardrobe and conducting a complete inventory, taking accurate measurements and considering obstacles that may influence the design,” she says. Some of our competitors do not leave the drawings following the consultation unless they make a purchase. We take 24 – 48 hours to develop the drawings which include plan & elevation views as well as renderings for each room and then e-mail them together with the proposal to our clients. Karen and her associates work diligently to make the design process as clear as possible.

Karen specializes in “working with the design elements of the house itself,” she says, and “making sure the closet complements the rest of the home.” She and her team use laser measurers to take accurate measurements to provide her in-house manufacturers with all the information they need to quickly produce the custom storage pieces. “Our cycle is three to four weeks from intake to install,” she says. “Having production in the same location as our designers optimizes communication between the two.” To add credibility and visibility to the process, Karen shows her clients the production area when they come to the showroom to choose finishes and accessories. Karen won the 2017 Home Building Industry Award in Connecticut for best walk-in closet for her work on a new construction contemporary master closet. She worked in conjunction with the builders and homeowners to create a gorgeous entirely custom space. The closet built-ins act as a piece of furniture in this bedroom-sized closet; she used glass to break up the cabinetry to make it feel modern and keep it true to the style of the home. Karen has worked with thousands of clients in Connecticut; Putnam, Dutchess and Westchester counties in New York; and NYC. She promises to bring her clients’ ideas beautifully to life. Closets and Storage Concepts Karen Bradbury 356 Ely Avenue Norwalk, CT 06854 203.957.3304 closetandstorageconcepts.com East Coast Home + Design

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Local Art, Custom Lighting & Client Connections: About Danise Talbot Design Story by Ashley Rose Marino


anise’s designs are anything but ordinary. Her favorite colors, oranges and blues, can be seen alongside original artworks from local artists in any one of her meticulously decorated rooms. Danise Talbot Design is a full-service design firm that helps clients choose everything in their homes, including the kitchen sink. Danise, principal and owner, specializes in kitchen and bathroom design, but works with clients to create homes that are truly customized inside and out. This Westport, CT, designer has been in business for four years and has made a huge impression on her clients in that short period of time. The hallmark of Danise Talbot Design is her ability to connect with her clients. “I love to go to where my clients are and see what’s going on near them,” she says. The way she personally interacts with her clients and the way she locally sources are what set her apart from other interior design businesses in the area. “A house is never finished until you have some artwork in it,” says Danise. Her studio is located next to a gallery, with whom she often collaborates to bring original art to her clients. Danise also works with specialty lighting services to bring an exclusive custom touch to her clients’ space. The lighting company she works with “makes the lighting new,” she says, “so


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it looks like the masters have made it.” She steers her clients away from pieces that are easily recognizable to give them a look that is anything but cookie cutter. In an article published earlier this year, Danise said that “to evolve in design means to be open to inspiration and information.” Her clients are always looking to refresh their spaces, and she says she’ll be there with them along their design journey. Creating fresh spaces that last generations is what Danise Talbot Design is all about, but she recognizes and embraces the fact that people are always re-creating and making their spaces new again. She promises to move with her clients as their lives change, which further shows her commitment to personally connect with each of them, and create the lasting relationships that set her firm apart from the rest. Danise Talbot Design serves clients in Connecticut and NYC and around the country. Danise Talbot Designs 263 Westport Avenue Westport, CT 06880 203.952.1112 danisetalbotdesign.com


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