A SoHo Twist
A Southport family creates its dream house
Halfway up Southport’s historic Sasco Hill Road stands a majestic and transitional—yet classically designed—colonial with all of yesterday’s charms plus the comforts and technology of today. Elegant, stately, and graceful—this house was designed for a young family with a penchant for living well.
In this home, a growing family found a way to marry all their New York City sophistication with subtle hints of coastal Connecticut charm. This isn’t a Nantucket-style beach house for it is much too grand. Yet it is in no way too formal for the pitter-patter of little feet and four-legged friends. Despite its grandeur, the house is warm, and inviting—apparent from the very moment you walk in the front door. Designed by Southport’s own award-winning Mark P. Finlay Architects, with interiors by Megan Downing and Sarah Barrett of New York City’s Elemental Interiors, the ultimate dream house comes to life.
Here science, technology, and art meld to create the modern home. This smart home is uber efficient with geothermal energy and radiant heat throughout. No detail has been spared or omitted. As you enter the generously sized foyer you’re immediately drawn to the exquisite views of the backyard, pool, and barn beyond—visible through the family room’s floor to ceiling windows.
You don’t immediately notice the lack of the center hall staircase. This detail was very much planned and sets this colonial home apart from most others.
“We didn’t think that classic center hall staircase should be the first thing you saw when you entered,” explains the homeowner. “Instead you can immediately see the gorgeous backyard and the pretty rooms that lead you there.”
To the left of the foyer is a handsome study and to the right the dining room. These generously sized rooms give the appearance of an open floor plan, but the oversized pocket doors allow for each space to be closed off for optimal privacy. The family room just ahead was designed to be the heart of the home and it is to the left of this room where the main staircase is tucked away so that the backyard—highlighted by an impressive red barn—takes center stage.
Just shy of 10,000 square feet, this home despite its size has a comfortable, cozy feel about it; an ambiance that is leisurely and relaxing—like you favorite vacation house. “It’s really a very special place,” says Sarah Barrett of Elemental Interiors of Manhattan. “This house was designed to be both a showpiece and an entertaining space for an active family with young children and pets. It needed to be beautiful yet durable with a look and feel that would translate well for both daytime living and evening entertaining.”
In order to achieve this, Downing and her partner Barrett spent a great deal of time getting to know the family.
“We are very client driven and before we begin any project we really want to know as much about our clients as possible. We want to know about our clients’ likes and dislikes and how they live; we then factor all those details into the design of the home.”
In order to give this large home its intimate feel, Barrett and Downing incorporated a universal color scheme through the home using deep blues and greys as their color palettes with hints of chocolate brown and crisp clean whites.
“These colors are timeless,” Barrett explains. “They are also calming colors that work well in a home. Because of the size of the home we wanted the rooms to have an individual feel with a common thread that flows from space to space so that the rooms are unified as well as feeling very individual.”
This theme is carried throughout the entire home and incorporated in the master bedroom suite and even the nursery where the deep chocolate browns give the playful pinks a more grown-up feel, so that both the room and child can grow together. By selecting the timeless colors pops of pattern and color are incorporated in the accessories.
“People naturally tire of their spaces after a while,” and Barrett explains that it’s easier to renew and refresh accessories than to repaint or re-wallpaper an entire room.
The real pièce de resistance is outside where a post and beam constructed barn sits by the oversized saltwater gunite pool. Casual and relaxing, the barn is a multi-function building. Pops of bright reds and oranges are added for fun and whimsy. The red bentwood bar chairs perfectly enhance the space’s warm tones. Handcrafted of clear Douglas fir, the hammered copper top bar, floor to ceiling stone fireplace, forged iron railings and newel posts along with the reclaimed wood on the walls and dining room table give this building a feel that is completely unique and individual from the main house. Step inside, and you feel as though you’ve stepped into a cabin deep in the Vermont woods. “It’s wonderful in any season,” explains the homeowner.
“The barn is the perfect retreat. It transports you to an entirely new place without having to leave the property,” explains Downing. “Guests are encouraged to wander in as they are, in their bathing suits, as they come out of the pool. The casual seating, and the welcoming bar area make the barn a perfect entertaining spot.”
Yet upstairs, a full service workspace and a separate area outfitted with a pullout couch create a perfect satellite office or guestroom, making this a truly multi-functional building. A full bath and shower along with washer and dryer allows this building to be a perfect, full functioning guesthouse. The barn’s décor is eclectic and timeless with warm, rich hues. This too was created to be a place for entertaining and celebrating.
“The design philosophy here was to create a space that would be inviting and fluid that would reflect the owners’ personalities and grow with them over time, “ explains Downing. “The barn was designed for a family who loves to entertain and who loves to celebrate. It’s a space where everyone, children, adults—and of course dogs—are always welcome.”