After living in various large houses, this woman has downsized, big time
After owning more than ten sprawling Bedford estates, Ginger Getz was looking for a small house where she could start over as a newly single, empty nester. “I was shedding my old life. It was hard for me; I get very attached to my spaces,” explains the veteran real-estate professional. In the process of reinventing herself, Getz spotted a listing for a 2,300-square-foot Colonial on a narrow lane of modest homes located just south of the Village Green.
The 1925 structure was in good condition, and Getz found it oddly compelling, despite the choppy layout. “Even though I knew I would have to gut the entire first floor, and my friends doubted my sanity,” she says with a laugh, “I loved the yard, the proximity to town, and its potential. Also, as a single woman, I liked that there were neighbors nearby.”
While her instincts told her this was the right move, Getz called her friend Leonard Woods for a second opinion. “As soon as I walked in, I could envision what we needed to do,” recalls Woods, a New York-based architect who had redesigned two of Getz’s previous homes.
With Woods’s blessing, Getz purchased the house. Since downsizing would require a drastic reduction of furnishings, she engaged Alicia Orrick, a Greenwich-based interior designer, to help her hand-select the few items that would make the cut. The weeding process was arduous, but together, Getz and Orrick decided to put a positive spin on the process by developing a completely fresh look to complement Woods’s design. Gone would be the French country furnishings, richly patterned fabrics, and accessories accumulated from decades of travel. Instead, they would create something serene and uncluttered, with an emphasis on artwork.
In order to ensure a consistent aesthetic indoors and out, Getz then hired Leslie Needham, a Bedford-based landscape designer. “Ginger has a great sense of style and design, and by bringing us together, she created a collaborative environment from the get-go,” explains Needham, who developed a plan for the one-third-acre lot that would be simplistic and architectural—no fussy gardens.
To begin, Woods took a look at the exterior, and quickly determined that the house sat high on the property. In order to make it more accessible, he had contractor Dennis Cregier build a podium of cascading steps around the home. Needham then enhanced the flow by installing two large rectangle terraces at the base of the steps, essentially creating two outdoor rooms—one for dining and one for lounging and cocktailing.
Unlike Getz’s previous home renovations, this project required a tight budget. Woods helped her make choices and assured her that foregoing expensive moldings and retaining the existing windows and aluminum siding were strategic, cost-saving measures that would not hamper the new design. The one place where Woods did advise upgrading the siding was on the front porch, where he had Cregier install wood boarding around the main entrance.
Inside, Woods reconfigured the first floor to flow around a new central hallway. The front door now opens into a contemporary home office, where Woods wisely advised Getz to invest in custom cabinetry, keeping the perimeter of the space crisp and orderly.
To the right is the new living/dining room. Since Getz wanted a fireside gathering area, and the home did not have a fireplace, Woods installed an economical firebox with a simple surround. Orrick then repurposed some upholstered seating from Getz’s previous home, setting it around a new, oversized limestone cocktail table. When faced with the decision of where to install a flat-screen television, Getz suggested that the only logical solution was to mount it above the fireplace. While he was tempted to quit the project in protest, Woods realized he could solve the conundrum by designing a custom cabinet that would hide the unit behind a sofa, enabling Getz to simply push a button to raise or lower it on demand. Now, to the team’s great satisfaction, a Raoul Dufy watercolor that Getz inherited from her mother takes pride of place over the fireplace.
Beyond the seating area is the dining room with two new sets of French doors to accommodate an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Orrick recovered Getz’s old dining room chairs, added a new square table, and a bespoke plaster chandelier. Around the corner is a brand new, sparkling white kitchen, in which Getz, an avid entertainer, whips up dinners for 12 and cocktails for 45.
A winding staircase leads to the second floor where Getz sought to have the guest bedrooms evoke the ambiance of a Manhattan boutique hotel, providing her children and grandchildren with chic accommodations when they visit from their homes on the west coast. Orrick also helped Getz transform her own bedroom suite into a luxurious, light-filled haven.
“This house is perfect for my stage in life,” says Getz. “It was hard for me to move. Letting go was a new thing for me, but now I see it as an adventure. I’m more independent and more confident, and I think this house shows that. In the past, I have had glamorous and romantic houses, but this is a happy house.”