Home at Last
Two designers find their dream house
Photos by Simon Upton & John Gruen
Bruce Glickman and Wilson Henley are known for their ability to take a house and make it into an extraordinary home that is both stylish and comfortable. Since they first discovered Connecticut 22 years ago, they have transformed their various houses into amazing residences, each with a distinct point of view. Their taste is impeccable, as witnessed by their successful shop and furniture line called Duane and Duane Modern, respectively.
“We found this last house by accident,” Glickman explains. “Our realtor had said there was a 1930s cottage across the street from her house in Washington that was for sale. She indicated it was pretty much deserted, needed to be torn down, but it had extraordinary views. So we drove down and this was the only house that looked as if no one was living there. Turns out we had gone to the wrong house and it was not for sale.”
However, as luck would have it, the owners seldom used the house and were willing to entertain an offer. And so began the journey of renovating another house. Built in the late ’30s, the house was in good condition structurally but much of the original character had been lost during a prior renovation. While the men did not change the footprint, they made it a better version of what it was.
“We gave it back that cottage feel,” Henley explains. “It is about 2,400 square feet, with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, library, dining room, and living room. We changed all the windows and doors and enclosed the porch and made it part of the house. The kitchen has been enlarged and we added a dormer upstairs to match the other one and make the roof symmetrical.”
Glickman and Henley describe their home as “warm and fuzzy” but don’t conjure images of flannel pajamas and patchwork quilts. Their new home evokes all of the taste and sophistication one has come to associate with these two men.
Prior to finding their present home, the men bought a 1950s Neutra-inspired ranch house in Bridgewater. Carefully and beautifully decorated, it was the ideal setting for their furniture, but Henley never warmed up to the house—in more ways than one.
“We love the midcentury aesthetic,” Henley says. “But the house became very slick and very precise. While it was perfect for our furniture, it wasn’t right for us. It felt vast, like an airport.”
The allure of the modern house faded and they were ready to move on, which brings us to present day and their new residence. It is a combination of cozy and modern and works like a dream for them. Many of the midcentury pieces complement the more traditional objects they’ve collected and the operative word is comfort. However, there were several challenges Wilson and Glickmanhad to confront.
“The location we’d chosen for the pool was on a slope so we had to put in retaining walls and bring in masses of dirt to create them. Another obstacle was the fact that the house is very close to the road and we had wetlands within the property. So the space was quite limited,” Glickman explains. “We had to keep moving the pool back to get a distance we liked and a size that worked for us. It all came together in the end.”
Interior and garden designer Michael Trapp was brought in to solve some of the landscape issues. The men also created a gravel driveway and car park in front of the house and planted boxwoods to soften the entrance. Now it is all of an exquisite piece.
Having at last found what may be their forever house, Glickman and Henley have made two radical changes to their lives: they have moved out of New York City and are full-ti
me Washington residents and they have opened a shop locally.
“We’d been in New York 37 years and as the leases for the store and the apartment came up, we decided it was time,” Glickman says. “Having a design showroom didn’t seem relevant anymore now that so many people buy online and younger people are not collecting as much. We wanted to open a shop here that offered the items that we ourselves like to buy. We are thrilled that our friend Betsey Nestler has joined us as a partner in George Home.
“We went through a lot of names, including Titus since the shop is on Titus Road. Then a friend suggested George. And here we are. There are several Washington-related items in the store.”
Everything is in place now. The house is a testament to their talent and taste; the shop is a reflection of their keen eye and feels as if it has been there forever.
“We love being part of the community. We have so many good friends and everyday we meet new people. It’s a great place to be,” Glickman says.
And we are all very happy that they are here for good.