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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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November 2018

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

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Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
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Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

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Maritime Garage Gallery
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

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


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
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1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

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The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

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Maritime Garage Gallery
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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

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Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
200 Barlow Road
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Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
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ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

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Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

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Members of Fairfield’s Arabic Language Club will offer a fun introductory language lesson—learn basic greetings, introductions, and more! Join us on Wednesday, November 14 from 7:00 - 7:30 p.m....

Cost: Free

Where:
Quick Center for the Arts
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

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Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Health Tully Health Center
32 Strawberry Hill Court
1st Floor Auditorium
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Sponsor: HSS Sports Rehab
Telephone: 203-705-2933
Contact Name: Pamela Villagomez
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $25 Members Save:$3 /tckt

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOned
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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Cost: $28 Standing Room Only Limited Seating First Come First Serve No Member Discoun

Where:
The Warehouse at Fairfield Theatre Company
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: BRODY WILKINSON
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The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

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Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

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


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

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

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


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

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Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Each event in our Art in Focus series offers an opportunity for an hour of close looking and informal discussion around a single work of art, led by Curator of Education Michelle DiMarzo. On...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

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

More information

 Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and Brooklawn Country Club Host a Business After Hours: November 15, 2018   The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and Brooklawn Country Club will host its November...

Cost: $20 Chamber Members, $30 Non-Chamber Members

Where:
Brooklawn Country Club
500 Algonquin Rd
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Sponsor: Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-255-1011
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Cost: $125 per student

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Fairfield Museum and the Fairfield Chapter of the National Charity League are pleased announce our 4th annual Holiday Pop-Up Market!  We have had tremendous success with this event and we are...

Cost: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

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Cost: General admission $5; Seniors and Students: $3

Where:
1750 Ogden House
1520 Bronson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

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


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

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

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


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Natural Pet Outlet is hosting Pictures with Santa! Bring your pet on Saturday November 17th from 10am-5pm and join The Natural Pet Outlet staff and Santa for a free 5 x 7 photo. No...

Cost: no cost

Where:
Natural Pet Outlet
3380 Fairfield Avenue
Bridgeport, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Fairfield Museum and the Fairfield Chapter of the National Charity League are pleased announce our 4th annual Holiday Pop-Up Market!  We have had tremendous success with this event and we are...

Cost: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Join us Saturday November 17 from 11-2 in the Sportsplex in Fairfield to find out about LivenUp's custom IV Drips, Hyperbaric Chamber, Beaner, and Wellness Support Systems. Dr. Salerno...

Cost: $39-$275

Where:
LivenUp in the Sportsplex
85 Mill Plain Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

St Joseph High School's Maroon & Gold Gala is a scholarship event that casts a spotlight on the school’s strong commitment to community service and leadership. It is a fabulous...

Cost: $150

Where:
The Waterview
215 Roosevelt Drive
Monroe, CT  06468
View map »


Sponsor: St Joseph High School
Telephone: (203) 378-9378
Contact Name: St Joseph High School
Website »

More information

Described as “one of the sharpest, funniest storytellers in rock” by Rolling Stone and “an exceptional songwriter” by NPR's Fresh Air, Todd Snider’s due diligence...

Cost: 38

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

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


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

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

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


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: $100 lunch included

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

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Cost: 50

Where:
Winston Preparatory School
57 West Rocks Rd.
Norwalk, CT  06851
View map »


Sponsor: Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities
Telephone: 203 682-1664
Contact Name: Alison Brown
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

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Cost: $4/New Pond Farm member ($16 max/family), $6/non-member ($24 max/family)

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

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