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Garden of Love

A Stratfield Couple creates their Dream Space, after years of meticulous renovations



Photos by Hulya Kolabas

Twenty years ago, Daryl Duarte threw a birthday party for a friend at his Black Rock apartment. A mutual friend brought David Schiffer, a designer who owns DMSsite Design, a landscape architecture company. As Schiffer wandered through the apartment and garden, he became more intrigued by the man who lived there. “There were vines growing up the house, a very nice sitting porch with hanging baskets, and the apartment was full to the brim with Daryl’s collections. The walls were hung floor to ceiling with paintings done by Daryl’s father and other inexpensive, but pretty, paintings from tag sales and flea markets,” says Schiffer.

As he got to talking to Duarte that night, the two hit it off. He learned that Duarte and his downstairs neighbor had won “Bridgeport in Bloom” twice for enhancing the beauty of streets in the city of Bridgeport. The next day Schiffer brought Duarte some tomatoes from his garden. “We’ve been together ever since,” says Duarte. 

They kept separate apartments for a few years and then decided it was time to share an abode, which is what prompted them to begin house hunting. Schiffer grew up in Stratford and Duarte had lived in Black Rock for almost 20 years, having grown up in Barrington, Rhode Island. But they both gravitated to Fairfield, and specifically the Stratfield section of town. “Stratfield is a neighborhood in the best sense of the word,” explains Schiffer. “We love that people walk their kids to school, children play in the streets, and the houses are close enough to have a strong feeling of community, but far enough apart to provide privacy.”

They fell in love with the home on Inwood Road, with its abundance of storybook charm and curb appeal. Duarte had heard that it was for sale, drove by, and quickly texted Schiffer, “you’re not going to believe this house.” Both are attracted to the construction and style of period homes, and this one is the epitome of all they sought. The rooms are generously proportioned, with high ceilings, and the porch has dramatic stone pillars accessed by two sets of French doors, one from the living room, and one from the dining room—providing great flow.

“The whole house has hardwood floors, and each story of the house has a different wood,” explains Schiffer. “The first floor is quarter-sawn oak, the second floor is fir, and the third floor is heart pine.” Part of the original butler’s pantry, complete with glass front cabinets, remained in the kitchen. Duarte was smitten, as he had substantial vintage pottery collections to put behind those doors.

With its good bones, the house was the ideal canvas for their vision. While they set to work renovating, they never changed the footprint. “We replaced the roof with a AAA-ripped cedar shake roof and copper gutters, and removed the steam radiators as they were very large and too dominant for our tastes and replaced them with forced hot air and central air conditioning,” says Schiffer. They restored the plaster and refinished the wood floors. They were careful to keep much of the home’s 1928 details, maintaining the original window frames and restoring the oversized wood front door. 

Over the years Schiffer and Duarte have tweaked the house, always employing the same treasured team. “We have relied on the same contractors since 2003. Whenever we are thinking about making any changes, or doing any renovation project, we say, “Let’s have a meeting,’” Schiffer says. “That is code between us that we need to meet with plumber Joe Tassitano, electrician David Gasso, carpenter Mark Eigenbrodt, landscape contractor Juan Coyt, and garden assistant Pat Sniffen. “They all know each other, work with each other collaboratively, understand we want the best outcomes we can possibly achieve, and they always exceed expectations.” 

While the house is itself a gem, the park-like garden is something to behold. The plantings and property are a continuous work in progress. In 2005, the couple bought a one-quarteracre parcel from an adjoining neighbor, in the middle of which lay an abandoned, 100-year-old spring-fed swimming pool. It was a “cement pond” without any purification system. Spring water came into the pool, and exited through an infinity edge water spout, dropped into a cistern, which then supplied water to a pond. “We renovated the swimming pool adding modern filtration and a spa accompanied by gardens, walking paths, and destination patios,” says Schiffer.

Later they added the pergola which serves as the nucleus of the property, framing all other features and forming a gate through which they pass from one section to another. “We sit on Adirondack chairs, which were owned by my grandparents, under the shade from the wisteria, sip our cocktails, talk about our day, reminisce about the past and plan our future,” says Schiffer. 

At least once a day, Duarte and Schiffer walk around the entire yard and make plans for future projects. “We love to adjust borders as plants mature, move plants when they outgrow their spot, and divide,” says Schiffer. The couple recently celebrated their 2013 marriage with an overdue honeymoon trip to Italy. They love to travel, but are always thrilled to return to their Inwood Road oasis.

“We don’t take the house for granted, we appreciate our good fortune for having found it, and know that we are lucky to live in a neighborhood surrounded by such giving and lovely people.”

 

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July 2018

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Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Cost: $50-$360

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Waveny Park
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Website »

More information

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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
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Cost: Free and open to the public.

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Pequot Library
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
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Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
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View map »


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
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View map »


Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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Bruce Museum
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View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
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More information

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Cost: $50-$360

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More information

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More information

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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
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More information

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Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
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View map »


Website »

More information

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View map »


Sponsor: Grace Farms Foundation
Telephone: 203-920-1702
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Cost: Free

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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
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Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
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The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Fairfield Sidewalk Sale & Street Fair Saturday, July 21, 2018 10:00am-4:00pm, Rain or Shine First Selectman Mike Tetreau announced today that the Town of Fairfield and Fairfield...

Cost: free

Where:
Downtown Fairfield
Post Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Town of Fairfield & Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-256-3120
Contact Name: Mark Barnhart
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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Mock Stock is going Metal in a nod to AC/DC, Guns N Roses, and Metallica.  Halfway to HELL (Tribute to AC/DC)- Halfway to HELL- AC/DC Tribute features a High energy stage show with two...

Cost: Tickets $20 in advance, $30 at the door.

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
Danbury, CT  06811
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Sponsor: Ives Concert Park and Promotions in Motion
Telephone: 203-837-9227
Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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The Magpie Salute brings together the reunited guitar team of Rich Robinson and Marc Ford from the Black Crowes, bassist Sven Pipien (also from the Crowes) along with lead...

Cost: $48

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company in The Warehouse
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Egotistical leading man, director, and producer Fred Graham is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, when the two are forced to play opposite one another in a new production of...

Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
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An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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