Holding on to the past, a Lakeville house is reborn
Photos by Peter Peirce
It is hard to believe that the magnificent, sprawling, modern house in Lakeville began its life as a single-story log cabin. The land on which the original 1980s structure sat afforded extraordinary views and deserved a house that enhanced the beauty of the property. When Sofia and Jacques Chappuis saw the house and its surroundings they knew it was a great place to escape from the city with their two children.
“We discovered Lakeville accidently,” Sofia Chappuis remembers. “We were visiting friends in Millerton and looking for a weekend place. We had no idea the Connecticut border was so close, so we decided to do more exploring. We found a couple of really nice places in Washington, but when we saw this house and the property we fell instantly in love, even though the house today bares little resemblance to the original.”
The modest log cabin measured 1,140 square feet and was dark and dour. A developer purchased it around 2003 and engaged the design firm Demetriades + Walker to renovate and enlarge the cabin. Located in Lakeville, the award-winning firm does primarily residential work and is known for its innovative approach to modernism. Both Demetriades and Walker have the talent and sensibility to select materials for sustainability and that uphold their architectural objectives as well as respecting the environment. The firm has been recognized in numerous publications and is the recipient of multiple awards including two recent AIA Design awards.
“The developer was planning to demolish the original building when we saw it,” explains Elizabeth Demetriades. “We felt there was nothing wrong with the structure and saw no reason why we couldn’t add on to it and put on a second floor. So we were hired and when the project was complete the house had taken on a more traditional country aspect.”
They added a second level with dormer windows, which comprised the master suite. All of the interiors were upgraded, including the bathrooms and kitchen. The building was further transformed by the addition of white siding over the brown logs. It was this remodeled version that the Chappuises bought in 2007. “We liked what Demetriades + Walker had done and decided we would hire them to continue the project and fulfill our vision for the house,” says Sofia.
“I was pregnant at the time, and while we only wanted a small getaway we knew we needed more space than the original house afforded. Elizabeth and Patrick’s design was perfect. We kept the original footprint but expanded the first floor area, added a basement and built the pool house and garage.”
“One of the challenges of the project is that the road on which the house is located is a small private road,” Elizabeth explains. “The original house was built right on the setback, so we were limited as to how much we could add on. We explored the possibility of moving the house to increase the setback but there were grading problems that made that impossible.”
Demetriades + Walker seamlessly created a long, sleek modern structure that echoes their midcentury modern aesthetic. It is impossible to tell that th
e whole house was not built at the same time. While the first conversion from log cabin to farmhouse added a modest 560 square feet, the recent renovation brought the total square footage to 3,000. The owners couldn’t be happier.
Simple dryset stone pavers lead up to front entrance, encased in cedar and stone, which opens in to the center of the house, with the original living room to the left. Straight ahead is a narrow vertical slit of a window, which creates a frame for the landscape at the back of the house. In addition to the public rooms on the first floor, there are two bedrooms at one end. A corridor lined with floor to ceiling windows connects the original part of the house with the new wing. The second level houses the master bedroom, bath, and dressing room.
Sofia, who is Swedish, did the interior design herself. Influenced by her Scandinavian roots, she has kept the décor pure, simple, light, and refined, and in keeping with the lines of the house. Neutral shades of gray and beige are invigorated by a splash of color from a wall or the perfectly placed throw pillow. There are no superfluous objects – perhaps just a vase of flowers, a stack of books. The abundance of light complements the peace and tranquility of the décor.
“Jacques and I both appreciate midcentury modern and are very good about paring down. Our New York apartment has a slightly more upholstered look but keeps to the same clean lines with no clutter. While we enjoy contemporary art we have kept that to a minimum as well, mainly because of the tremendous light. But we have three Noh mask photographs in the living room and a wonderful horse photograph at the end of a hallway.”
The west-facing house has beautiful pastoral views of rolling hillsides, the kind one associates with the best of New England landscape. While Sofia took on the interior design, Jacques, who is global head of sales and marketing and co-head of the solutions and multiasset group at Morgan Stanley, dealt with the landscaping, taking down trees and widening the lawn, and enhancing the incredible mountain views.
It is all of a piece now. “So much of this area reminds me of Sweden,” says Sofia. “The types of flowers you find growing along the roadside, the extraordinary vistas. We like hiking a lot and the beauty of nature has just pulled us in. While you feel you are in a rural atmosphere, you are afforded all the sophistication one needs—great produce, interesting shopping, restaurants, and wonderful people.
Our son Axel is only two, but Lily, who is 11½, has made friends her own age. It’s wonderful to be able to open the back door and have space and nature at your feet. It eases the tenseness of being in the city.”
What more could anyone ask for!