A Weekend Retreat in Washington Depot
Homeowner Amy Nauiokas, swinging, spectacular stonework and glass expanse on the terrace.
Although it is called the Barn House, don’t look for bales of hay or farm implements. Amy Nauiokas and Harry Harrison have turned a weathered cottage into a spectacular home for their family. And Nauiokas, a venture capitalist by profession, did the interior design herself while running two companies she had started.
“In 2008,” Nauiokas explains. “I started Anthemis Group that invested in early stage technology companies. At the same time I wanted to follow my passion for film and media and learn more about a different industry. So I founded Archer Gray and began producing films, most notably 20th Century Women, which had both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. I didn’t intend to be running two companies, but they both seem to be flourishing, so here I am.”
But there is another side to her as well. She and Harrison have a blended family of six children, ranging in age from 22 to five and she is as content caring for her family and her home as she is in her professional life. And it shows.
“I grew up in Southbury, in a house my father built with his very own hands on land that his grandfather left him,” says Nauiokas. “So Litchfield County has always been very special for me. We lived in Roxbury for several years before we moved to this house.”
“This house” was a simple barn-sided structure that started out as a small cottage from the 1920s. The previous owners built a 5,000-square-foot house and retained the original structure as a guesthouse. The couple knew immediately this was the house for them.
“We had started looking and knew we wanted something that had a significant amount of property and we weren’t averse to renovating. As soon as we walked in we were both stunned into complete silence,” Nauiokas recalls. “We learned that the house had been blessed by monks and there was a special energy and calmness.”
While they fell in love with the house it wasn’t large enough for their family. The 5,000 square feet morphed into a space of slightly north of 11,000, with 75 acres of land.
“I made it cozier by adding wallpaper and brighter colors, which made the double level balcony look less imposing. I added more furniture than was needed just to cozy it up. In the renovation we respected the original footprint and tried to maintain the integrity of what was there.”
The house exudes a feeling of modernism due to the expansive wall of windows. On a sunny day it is flooded with natural light and on a cloudy day there is a certain comfort of being enclosed in a glass-like structure as nature takes its course.
Approaching the house one can see through to the other side where the pool is located. So many homeowners prefer to have the pool away from the main house and sheltered by landscaping. But not at the Barn House.
“The pool that is here now was the pool we inherited,” says Nauiokas. “My father was a builder and a handyman and the idea of moving or destroying something that is perfectly fine was alien to him. So I was determined to work with the pool as it was and where it was. Dobson Pools was most helpful in that respect. They did hardscape around the pool and the masonry was redone.”
The farm and house adjacent to the property was owned by another family and became available in 2011.
“That was the same year my grandmother passed. She had lived with my parents and we asked them if they’d like to move into this house and be closer to their grandchildren. And they did. We also have a private equestrian center with an indoor and outdoor riding range. So the Washington Equestrian Center is the third business I manage.”
While it doesn’t take a village, Nauiokas does have a team in place that allows her and her family to enjoy their time at Barn House. There is the spectacular lan dscaping, natural and lush as if it had always been there, thanks to Beth Whitty Landscaping Design. And the vegetable garden.
“I always had a vegetable garden growing up and one of my happiest memories was watering and weeding it with my parents and picking and eating string beans or grabbing a cucumber, sprinkling some salt on it and it eating it whole! Before the renovation I kept a small garden that I planted but when we met the team from Garden Keep they had such a beautiful vision that I just let them have at it!”
Barn House and its environs is a magical place where everything runs smoothly and at every turn there is something to behold, thanks to the magic of Dan Sweeney, owner of Danco Management Company.
“Dan keeps everything organized and running smoothly and oversaw a big portion of the renovation, working with Mike Criscione who did all the masonry work.”
In addition to decorating the house, tending to her family, and riding whenever she can, Nauiokas has a passion for antique cars and owns four, including an antique Porsche.
“It’s the other passion my father instilled in me,” she explains. “I grew up around cars; he was always tinkering with them and he taught me how to change the oil when I was six years old.”
Nauiokas says that when the family is all together they love being in their house and seldom leave. We wouldn’t either.