Paradise in Pound Ridge
By Jennifer Moore Stahlkrantz
Photographs by Tim Lee and Bruce Katz
Some of the best-kept secrets are hidden down long, dirt driveways, so unremarkable that neighbors have been known to pass them for decades without wondering where they might lead. Traveling down one of these unassuming approaches is exactly where Bill and Linda Kaye found themselves nearly 40 years ago during their search for a country getaway. When they arrived, the homeowner, Dr. Ernest Wynder, who was perhaps as well known for the Hollywood starlets he squired as for the groundbreaking research he conducted, turned on his legendary charm. It didn’t take long for the deal on the rustic, mid-century home to be sealed. “It reminded me of being away on vacation,” Linda recalls. “I loved it then, and I still love it now.”
Today, the Kayes’ woodland contemporary has been opened up and upgraded in ways that salvaged what was best about architect Ann Renehan’s original 1959 design but allowed for a little bit of 21st century fantasy living. Antique, Chinese gates now welcome guests from the parking court to the moss garden, one of three outdoor “rooms” designed by the late, award-winning, landscape architect Kaneji Domoto. Garden walls were later added to create a sense of intimacy as a stone pathway leads through—and sometimes beneath—the moss to the glass foyer walls.
While they had updated the house over the years to accommodate their growing family, the Kayes found that as they travelled, their tastes evolved. On a 2003 visit to Twin Farms resort in Vermont, they saw a glimpse of new possibilities for the Pound Ridge getaway. Bill and Linda wanted to replicate Twin Farms’ aura of escape at their weekend home, and they swiftly hired one of the resort’s architects, Scott Cornelius. Cornelius redesigned the home to feel like a series of outdoor pavilions with a glass hallway leading from the foyer to a renovated master suite. Enlarged and opened up with expanses of glass, the new bedroom was furnished with the architect’s bespoke, Noguchi-inspired pieces. The master bathroom was re-imagined as a luxurious camp, featuring a round copper tub in a redwood hoop, a rustic stone and glass shower, and a television that magically appears in the vanity mirror.
To the right of the foyer, Eileen Gray-inspired sliding panels lead to a great room comprised of three gathering spaces: the “moss room,” the living room, and a fireside nook. Tucked under a second-floor lofted space, the moss room is airy thanks to a wall of glass that blurs the line between indoors and out—making the moss garden the dominant element of the decor. Custom furnishings by SCDS Ltd., a design studio founded by Cornelius and Antoine Bourbon-Parme, as well as heirloom pieces by Stickley, and paintings collected during the Kayes’ international travels complement the verdant view.
A few steps away, the ceiling rises dramatically to accommodate the living room’s two-story glass wall. Here, a majestic, double-sided, stone fireplace might take center stage, if it weren’t for the compelling view out back. Behind the fireplace is a nook, where the Kayes often dine à deux.
Linda, who owns Linda Kaye’s Birthdaybakers Partymakers and served for years as Michael Bloomberg’s event planner, knows a lot about entertainment spaces. Cornelius picked up on her appreciation of space adaptability and specified a pair of pocket screens that can enclose the nook for quiet moments or be retracted to reveal the adjacent dining room where metallic gold walls, antique Chinese ink wash paintings, and a lacquered bamboo ceiling create an Eastern aesthetic. A second series of custom screens separates the dining room from the media room beyond, and a doorway leads to the renovated eat-in-kitchen and a private bedroom suite.
The lofted second floor, accessed by a stairway in the fireside nook, includes an open office and library, which Cornelius refurbished with reupholstered bookcases and custom Nakashima-inspired chairs. A guest suite, designed years ago by David Collins, whose work the Kayes discovered while vacationing in London, was preserved.
After redesigning the indoors, Cornelius turned his attention to the outdoors. Knowing that Bill loved to sit out on the small back terrace and watch life pass by, Cornelius decided to create another outdoor “room.” He designed a large redwood and ipe deck, complete with sunken sitting area and firepit and integrated it into Kaneji Domoto’s landscaping.
Back in the 1970s, Kan involved Bill and Linda in his design as well as the hands on work of developing the property. He would spend hours positioning rocks just-so and even more hours teaching Bill to prune the trees and water the rocks in order to encourage moss growth. He also added a pool, a rock bridge, and a meditation shack, all of which are visible from the vantage point on the back deck.
While the excavation for the new deck was underway, Linda told Cornelius that it might be the perfect time to add the dine-in wine cellar they’d always wanted. An entertainer at heart, she loved the idea of taking guests to an event, so he designed the outdoor space to allow for leaving the house to “go out” to dinner. The Kayes would be able to lead their guests down a woodland path after cocktails on the deck to the subterranean wine cellar for a multi-course meal.
Outdoor family recreation has always been important, as well. A vintage, one-room lake cottage was restored to serve double duty as both a guest house and a pool house; the tennis court was resurfaced; the sandy beach was enlarged; and a half basketball court and target green, complete with water holes and floating golf balls, were added.
Sharing memories of family life here, Bill recalls bringing his father to see the property years ago. “As we walked down to the pond, my father said ‘Bill, this is going to be your Shangri-la.’ And, his words were true.” An earthly paradise, isolated from the outside world? Sounds like paradise in Pound Ridge.