A Greenfield Hill Colonial Gets Outfitted for Fun
Generally the most inviting houses are usually the ones most reflective of those who inhabit them, which is exactly how you would describe Kristen and Patrick McDonald’s home in northern Greenfield Hill. The family moved from Westport eight years ago, and the house has evolved with their growing needs. “We looked at quite a few homes in Greenfield Hill, but we found that the layout of this house with its level acreage held the most potential for us.” explains Kristen. The McDonald’s loved the traditional charm of this 1960s-era Colonial-style house, so they were cautious to make measured improvements while maintaining the integrity of its design.
One of the first additions was a professional tennis court, which was a priority since Patrick McDonald is a ranked player. The court was strategically placed behind the garage so as not to alter the open landscape design, which is bordered by a natural fieldstone wall. Then, as the family grew from two kids to three, and a Rhodesian ridgeback joined the mix, a smaller kitchen soon gave way to a family-sized eat-in kitchen, a mud room, a state-of-the-art exercise room, and a powder room.
However, the most dramatic new space is what the McDonald family affectionately refer to as the Party Barn, which overlooks the tennis court. Designed by Jay Eirquez of Jade Fine Homes in Danbury, the cathedral-ceilinged space is a masterpiece of knotty pinewood craftsmanship, with its carved and intricate details, wide-planked floors and fieldstone hearths, inside and out. Eirquez devoted almost a year to this project: painstakingly tracking down wood and stone to create the look he envisioned. “The exposed trusses were handmade and put together on site,” says Eirquez. One of the most remarkable feats was the creation of “eyebrow windows” that are actually on the roof—not a common location. Step inside and the feeling is transporting—you could be at a ski lodge in Park City or a cabin in Kennebunkport.
The barn needed décor that connected it aesthetically with the main house, and Kristen wanted it to feature her favorite blue and white color combination. “I have always loved blue and white together, it’s cheerful and soothing.” It was a big project, so she turned to a friend for help—but not just any friend. Amy Coe, the former owner of the eponymous and wildly successful shop in Westport, was delighted to join forces to create an interior befitting the family. “I had known Kristen for many years as a customer in my shop and was so excited about the project because we both adore home design.” While Coe was able to anticipate many of Kristen’s selections, and tap her trade resources, they typically joined forces and combed through shops around Fairfield County. Coe also spent time collecting ideas at trade shows, traveling and trusting her own design aesthetic. “It was a labor of love,” says Kristen. They successfully created a look that is fresh, a little preppy, and pretty without being overly feminine. What resulted is a fungible environment where her husband and sons would feel as comfortable watching a Superbowl game as Kristen would be hosting a little girl’s tea party.
The dining area—perfect for a buffet or a sit-down dinner—consists of a vintage table with reclaimed wood and an iron base with casters—allowing it to be moved as needed. “I loved the look and functionality of this table,” says Kristen. “When I saw it, I just knew it would be perfect,” adds Coe. Reed Hyacinth dining chairs from Roost, a Sausalito California company, surround the table and are truly comfortable, something that is important to both Coe and McDonald. “Comfort and beauty should go together,” says Coe. In keeping with the natural woodsy feel of the entire room, vintage bureaus flank the walls and become ideal display areas for books, photos, and decorative small pieces. To enhance and break up the color scheme, Coe added splashes of bright green, optic white and her infamous finds. She is constantly hunting for one of a kind pieces in her travels. Coe installed a close-up picture of fresh green grass by Hudson Valley photographer, Mark Mackinnon, which creates another focal point near the dramatic windows.
A short walk leads to the main house, where Amy Coe’s influence is visible right away, beginning with the McDonald’s sunken family room off the kitchen. The cheerful citrus green from the barn is showcased here along with some hot pink accents for a little drama. Geometric x tables from Tritter Feefer make strong anchors for the rooms. The relaxed Roman window treatments, pillows and upholstery belie the fact that some of the fabrics are indoor/outdoor Duralee material. “When you have two sports-oriented boys with equipment, play dates and dirty cleats, it is a relief to have a room that can take a beating and still look great,” says Kristen. This is a classic example of how to make a living space pretty yet suited to the needs of the family that uses it. “It’s critical to understand your client’s needs while focusing on how the space will be used at all times. Design should make you happy.” says Coe.
The large cooks’ kitchen, expanded with their first renovation in 2008, was also by Jade Fine Homes. The countertops made of sparkly multi-colored recycled glass on one side and shiny black silestone on the other blend beautifully with the custom-made white wooden cabinets and black and white plaid chairs. The woodwork in the kitchen harkens back to the detail found in the design of the barn. In both spaces, the McDonalds deliberately left the windows without treatments to showcase the natural light while highlighting the intricate carvings and moldings of the window trim and frames.
The palette of navy, crème pale grey and optic white returns in the living room, which is a masterful combination of comfort and formality – one of Coe’s many talents. A linen Mitchell Gold sofa and chair surround the antiqued mirrored glass coffee table that adds a subtle sparkle to the room. “The grays and silver tones are perfect for the space, adding just enough shimmer,” says Coe. Over the mantle is a silver wood framed watercolor floating on linen that appears custom-made for the room. “I always look to balance color, textures and lines that complement each other, and I try to find something unpredictable” she explains.
For people who know and love Amy Coe they are most often familiar with her shop or her successful line of hip kids clothing for Babies R’ Us. Not surprisingly, Coe started her interior-design career as friends and customers asked for assistance in designing their baby and child rooms. The McDonald’s little girl lucked out when Kristen asked Amy to help update her daughter’s room. With clever touches, Coe made it less baby and more little girl. A sherbet-colored popsicle print was the show stopper she stumbled upon. “It just read happy,” says Coe. She also layered bold-colored whimsical Designer Guild fabrics into the more traditional scheme. “The room makes everyone smile!”