Waterfront Residence

These clients, empty nesters, desired what Glenn calls “a new old house,” a residence with all the charm–including the detailing, stone and millwork–of a 19th century house, but the amenities of a contemporary one. The siting of this 1960s house was magnificent; it overlooked Kirby Pond and Long Island Sound in a neighborhood of beautiful late 19th and early 20th century houses. But massive renovation was necessary to create an aura of age as well as to effectuate modern conveniences. From the footprint of a generic Colonial-style house, we forged a house redolent with late 19th and early 20th century architectural references which meshed with the ethos of the early houses nearby.

Windows and doors were added, especially to emphasize views of the pond, and the layout was reconfigured, with some room additions, notably the vaulted-ceilinged dining room. The master bedroom, with his and hers bathrooms, remained downstairs, while one of three bedrooms upstairs was converted into an office for the lady of the house.

In furnishing the house, we made use of some pieces already owned by the clients, as well as selecting antique furniture that had patina and character, not necessarily heavily pedigreed. Rugs throughout the house were custom, and included some interesting techniques of fabrication, including braiding and hooking. The overarching decorative effect of these rooms is a kind of restrained, even reductive American Colonialism, a fresh interpretation of the style with a light streamlined touch.

French doors in the living room open onto splendidly landscaped views of Kirby Pond. The custom Tibetan weave rug resembles an updated Colonial hooked rug, with its warm tones. The curtains are a traditional print; and the porch chairs are rockers from Charleston, South Carolina. The husband’s desk and work area are at right.

Rebuilding the house from virtually the ground up, we redesigned the elevations with multiple windows to augment symmetry, natural light and views. A stately curving gravel drive leads to the entry. Beautifully mullioned sash windows now flank the front door.

A 1780s English bureau in the Entry signals the character of the whole house.

In another view of the living room, we accentuated the existing homely low ceilings by adding beams. An antique Chinese bed is used as a coffee table; and we commissioned a contemporary landscape painter to create a view of the pond at dusk.

"We purchased an unremarkable Colonial house on a great site overlooking the Long Island Sound that needed a complete renovation, and found Glenn Gissler Design after researching interior design experts on the internet. We could not be happier with the process and the results."

– Client

In the kitchen, vernacular elements–beadboard ceilings, rustic tiles and an antique rug–create an atmosphere of slightly countrified tradition rendered with new lightness and energy. Eighteenth century pewter plates on the wall accentuate the early American feeling.

Windows added on three sides provide expansive views for the breakfast room. The table, chairs and chandelier are antique; the rug is custom braided.

The powder room is resplendent with a hand-blocked golden wallpaper by Alpha Workshops. The bronze washstand contrasts beautifully with the countertop of black combed granite. The light fixture is early 20th century French.

In the master bedroom, a four-poster bed with caned headboard is illuminated by a Christopher Spitzmiller lamp in black pearl finish.

The “Hers” master bath is a luminous essay in off-white, highlighted by Perlino Bianco floor tile.

The guest room is an enclave of rich simplicity, created by an ensemble of sisal matting, an antique barley-twist table, crewel curtains, and iron bedstead with antique quilt.

In the guest bath, an intricate floor of mosaic tile creates a textured ground for a traditional wooden washstand.

An ultra-simple Mudroom epitomizes honest construction, reminiscent of that in Shaker houses. The walls are beadboard with hooks for clothing, the floor a durable dark green slate.

An outdoor view overlooking Kirby Pond shows a low, curving fieldstone wall added by Glenn.