A view into a home built by Peter Cadoux on Long Island Sound. Grand and energy efficient, the house boasts an elegant and whimsy interior designed by Debra Failla.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET A CALL from the gas company asking if your meters are broken because you aren’t using a lot of energy? And how often do you think that would happen if you owned a brand new 7,000-square-foot waterfront house? When that call came in at this Newport Victorian-style home, the owners and their architect had a very satisfying laugh.
Architect Peter Cadoux says that energy efficiency is just one of the many hallmarks of this home, but it’s one of the most important. From fiberglass and PVC exterior moldings to the slate roof to the high performance spray-on insulation, the owners want this house to age well. The inspiration for the home’s style—both inside and out—came from the owners’ love of Newport, Rhode Island, and their passion for architecture. “While the exterior may look more traditional, they wanted an elegant yet relaxed interior,” says Cadoux. “We achieved that through architectural details and unexpected touches of whimsy that reflect their playful sophistication and welcoming personality.”
Many of the indoor and outdoor spaces are designed for entertaining, and the house is on the April 30 Near & Far Aid Designer House Tour (nearandfar.org), featuring five Fairfield area homes. What the owners didn’t want in the five-bedroom abode was unused space. The ground level is dominated by an open-floor plan. There is no formal living room and no breakfast room and every single area capitalizes on the spectacular views of Long Island Sound. “The house is almost like a stage front,” says Cadoux. “It’s long and narrow to capture as many views as possible.” In fact, most of the house is only 25 feet deep.
The two and a half floors visible from the street are highly finished but with materials that are kid and environmentally friendly. The wood floors throughout are bamboo, reclaimed walnut, and hickory. One of the bathrooms sports reclaimed redwood slabs. “For all the design projects I’ve done, this one used the most diverse materials,” says interior designer Debra Failla. “They didn’t want fabrics or materials that are off limits to kids because they really want to live in the house.” Failla describes the decor as beachy, but with a very local feel. “We used elements you would actually find at Fairfield County beaches,” she says. “For example, instead of a seahorse theme we used horseshoe crabs.” She even collected dozens of oyster shells from the shoreline and hand-glued them in an upstairs powder room to create shell-encrusted walls.
The second floor is occupied by the owners’ suite, including an office, and the two boys’ bedrooms. The kids wanted a surfer feel in their shared bathroom so Failla created a cabana-style shower with wood slats running all the way around—though the slats are actually tile.
In keeping with the owners’ desire to use all the space in the house, the attic is used as a yoga/meditation room complete with a small veranda to bring in the serenity of the water. The finished basement, however, is a completely different story. “It’s more of a departure,” says Cadoux. “Everything changes and becomes more like a ship.” With separate areas for adults and kids, the lower level is done in dark wood and polished metal finishes. It will surely be a destination place for years to come thanks to the billiard area, wine cellar, tricked-out media room and a stop-and-stare fish tank; not to mention one of the three different juice bars that are scattered throughout the house.
The home was built by Wojanowski Brothers, and designed and decorated by professionals; but the experts credit the homeowners with the vision that led to this grand, fun, airy home. “You can’t imagine the feedback we’ve had from it,” says Cadoux.