Design 4 Life
A New Home Overflows with Personal Style
The Dudley dining room features a Terrain outdoor patio table that Gaelle cleverly uses indoors to enhance the indoor/outdoor feel of the entire home. Turquoise metal chairs from Lillian August offer contrast, and the beaded chandelier from Made Goods brings more fun to the space, while adding a touch of elegance.
Photos by Jane Beiles
Over a year ago, Gaelle Lemarchand Dudley stood on the sidewalk watching her husband Alex run by in the Fairfield half marathon. Westport residents then, the couple and their two boys were enjoying that summer day in Fairfield when she had an epiphany. “I just knew we needed to move to Fairfield—near the beach,” explains Dudley. “We love the Fairfield vibe and the wide flat bikeable roads, the diversity of people, and the young spirit of the town. Having two universities in town infuses energy that is priceless. We are avid beach goers and love that the town center is so close to the coast. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Built by Love Where You Live Homes, the height of the Dudley’s blue-grey shingled house is what you will notice first—it’s 16 feet off the ground, five feet above FEMA’s new beach-area standards. With two gabled roofs pointing to the sky, the home gives the appearance of— and certainly feels much larger than—its 2,800 square feet. Dudley, principal of GLDesign, is an interior and exterior designer of homes and gardens, and at this pretty spot on Birch Road, one block from Penfield, she saw a perfect blank canvas for all her ideas and creativity to come to life.
Working with contractor FJ Burkowsky and a talented cadre of people on her team, she transformed the space in under eight months to be her dream house. “For starters, we decided to have the house wrapped from head to toe in shiplap. Then we redesigned kitchen, replaced fixtures, and brought in locally sourced barn wood elements to add throughout our home.”
Dudley’s talent in design, from the bold uses of bright colors to the clever use of “high/low” pieces would lead anyone to believe she is a design school graduate and has spent a lifetime amassing experience. That’s not exactly the case. Paris-born—Dudley grew up speaking English like an American (thanks to the American School of Paris and internationally-minded parents) and graduated from Skidmore College. Clearly possessing business savvy with a creative mind, she made a career in marketing, most recently working for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Dudley thought she would be there long-term, but a bump in the road—in the form of a health crisis—inspired her to change her path, leaving the corporate life and following her passion in designing spaces, inside and out.
Settled into their new home, everywhere you look in the Dudley home there are reminders of the beach, from the colorful surfboards mounted on the wall, to the “Nantucket” sign or a vintage poster that reads, “Beach Rules.” And there are also more meaningful quotes—including her favorite one from a Mumford & Sons song, “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” It may sound like a cliché, but it couldn’t be more true: love abounds in the Dudley home. Not just in the warm rapport of the close-knit family, but also stylistically in the artistic creations that surround them. A prominent feature of the home’s decor is the art, much of which is by Westport artist Kerri Rosenthal of XOKR, who recently opened her Concept Shop in Sconset Square.
“Kerri and I met through Instagram!” exclaims Dudley. “I loved her art and one day contacted her regarding one piece in particular and the rest is history.” Dudley is particularly excited with Rosenthal’s new line of fabric and wallpaper, which aligns with her coastal design vibe. “Working with Kerri is simply the most inspiring experience. Whether it be incorporating her art into my client’s homes, infusing her happy color palette and spirit throughout my story boards via her fabrics, pillows, poufs or more, she is a force to be reckoned with and makes all of us designers lives much easier.”
Their collaboration began in Dudley’s living room, where the centerpiece is the dramatic blue and white flag featuring Rosenthal’s signature drippy hearts in The United State of Love. In the dining room, an oversized white/indigo drippy heart entitled Super Love is the perfect complement to the simple lines of the Terrain sourced wood table and bench.
Never fearful of pattern or color, Dudley employs Serena & Lily painted wallpaper in the kitchen and shibori Scion wallpaper in the dining room. The kitchen bar, with its sleek Calacatta Marble and Serena & Lily counter stools have a bit of a Provençal café feel. Rosenthal signature pillows dot the luxe sofas from Restoration Hardware in the room opposite the kitchen. “Splashes of bright colors add whimsy. And I love whimsy,” explains Dudley.
One of the unique features of the home celebrates both form and function. Again following FEMA rules, the lowest level allows water to flow through in the event of any flooding, but Dudley made this indoor-outdoor space the most inviting room of all. Dubbing it the “loggia,” corrugated galvanized steel on one side and stone on the opposing wall give it an industrial yet contemporary feel. Bluestone flooring, chic cedar sliding barn doors, and comfy pillows and chairs make this a rec room like no other. The Dudleys leave the doors open in almost all weather.
“We love to sit in here and watch a rain storm,” says Hayden, the Dudley’s ten-year-old son.
The Dudley boys both have aesthetic input, clearly taking after their mom, and chose dark dramatic matte paint colors for each of their bedrooms. Dudley’s GLDesign office is something to behold—with its bright white walls and colorful repeat pattern of painted paper on the ceiling from Rosenthal’s studio floor, aptly named “Studio Floor.” Just like every inch of the Dudley home, it’s a marriage of great personal style and an endless supply of good vibes.