Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Magical Mystery Tour

A Carriage House transforms at Christmas



Photos by Rana Faure

If ever there was a house that cried Christmas, it is Tom and Mary McInerney’s home, where just a step inside during the holidays immediately evokes nostalgic memories of hanging stockings and anxiously awaiting Santa.

The former carriage house is on the Ridgefield Historical Society registry and along with an antique icehouse was once part of the 30-acre Nydeggen Estate, built around 1910 and subdivided in the 1950s. When the McInerneys found the property 40-some years ago, it had two buildings in terrible disrepair. The icehouse still had remnants of the corncob stuffing in the walls. The cottage itself had holes in the floors where workers could access the underside of the carriages. The kitchen, which had been the “carriage wash,” was practically non-existent and still had a cement floor with a drain. 

But the cottage had irresistible charm with its original ceiling beams. The couple easily envisioned its transformation. Another appeal was the Robert Stubner painting found in one of the dilapidated buildings. The German artist was popular in the early 1900s and this painting had likely graced the walls of
 the original manor house. 

Calling themselves the “ugly-duckling specialists,” Mary says making the ramshackle house into a home while still keeping it true to its carriage house roots became their passion. The icehouse was transitioned into a guesthouse. The carriage house became a comfortable place to raise their five children.

Much of the millwork and finishing touches as well as a newly renovated kitchen were later updated by their talented son, Thomas McInerney of McInerney Building and Remodeling, who, Mary says, “cut his teeth on renovations.”

There is no better time to tour such a house than at Christmas because Mary McInerney goes all out and her creative flair is evident in every nook and cranny of the antique home. Mary actually decorates for all seasons, but no other time is quite so impressive as the magical transformation that takes place every December.

Each year she climbs into the attic and tosses down one of the many boxes of decorations. The theme is always a mystery until she opens the box and peers inside. Whatever she finds, she builds on. This year, she has outdone herself with glittering red ornaments showing up just about everywhere the eye travels. 

Enter the small foyer and to the left is an ample-sized living room highlighted by an oversized window, a wall of bookcases, a corner built-in, and an antique fireplace surround that Tom found in Brooklyn, their former home. The room literally glitters with an under-lit glasstop table decorated with a wintery scene of shimmering white deer and trees, all accented with red bulbs. “You should see it with martini glasses on it,” Mary says. 

Over a hundred antique bottles topped with varying sizes of shiny red ornaments are prominently displayed in the lit corner cabinet. Every bottle in the collection was found on the property by three generations of McInerneys and painstakingly cleaned to take its place beside the others.  Apparently, a portion of the former estate behind the icehouse was once used as a “dumping ground” and gradually over time the bottles have moved to the surface. 

“The grandchildren are still bringing me bottles every time they play in our woods,” says Mary.

The mantel is decorated with greenery found on the grounds and more ornaments. A sparkling tree sits in the corner and the window is draped in garland, lights, and ornaments. It is a festive room, one that would make children and adults alike clap their hands in delight, exactly the effect Mary strives for. 

The Christmas spirit doesn’t stop at the living room. On the other side of the small foyer is a large dining room and this too is decorated from top to bottom. Crafted wooden Santas and trees that Mary made herself 30 years ago lean against windows. Special shelving at ceiling level shows off Tom’s Lionel-train collection.

Tiny white lights are draped to highlight red rose topiaries. The table is set and even a menu entitled “Carriage House Christmas Dinner” sits on a music stand. This is the room the family calls the “Sistine Chapel” because of the exquisite millwork and wainscoting. This is also the room where their coveted Robert Stubner painting proudly hangs.

Beyond the dining room is a bar/pantry open to an expansive kitchen. The former “carriage wash” is very roomy with an island that is large enough to accommodate everyone at the annual “Christmas Craft Day” that Mary and Tom host. All five children, spouses, and 12 grandchildren gather to decorate gingerbread houses and personalize holiday centerpieces for their own homes.

Countertops, cupboards, and shelving all glitter with holiday decorations. Even the chandelier has sparkling ornaments dangling. It’s enough to be festive, but not so much as to take away from the pristine uncluttered appeal of the kitchen. 

No detail was left unaddressed in the kitchen remodel. From the under-lit island, to the double sink and dual faucet cleanup area, to the magnetic backsplash in the message center and the separate bar opening into the pantry, it is a kitchen to envy. During the renovation, the McInerneys gave their son full rein, and Mary says, “It exceeded our expectations.” The kitchen was completely designed to reflect their needs and habits, right down to the utility drawer configurations. 

A small family room off the kitchen is where Tom and Mary like to relax and it too is decked out with a skeletal tree smothered in glittering lights and ornaments. Clever place settings using a red felt background and white plates are created to look like a snowman.

The house has multiple quirky little corners that the McInerneys like to highlight rather than hide. One space in the kitchen was used to create an exposed brick backed shelf and displays small topiaries. Another in the dining room is a highlight for the children—an open window from a staircase in the adjacent room acts as a small stage where the grandchildren delight in putting on puppet shows for the adults.

Like its owners, the house exudes comfort, charm and personality. During the holidays, it becomes downright magical. 

“Once you live in a house like this, you can never buy new,” says Mary. “It has been our passion.”

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Worth the Weight

John Frey’s life-changing experience

Showtime

Performing artists glam up locally to take on the town

Play House

A Putnam County Couple finds home

How We Met: It’s a Small Web

Finding love with online dating

Double H Time

A book recounts Hunter Harrison’s remarkable life

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

September 2018

Ridgefield Magazine Broadway & Cabaret Series Northeast Builders of Ridgefield LLC Emerging Artist Series Partially Underwritten by Adam Broderick Salon & Spa Cynthia Erivo rose to...

Cost: $86

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A.A. Milne's classic tales, Winne-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, have delighted readers for nearly a century. The story's characters -- Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and the rest of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Friends of the Ridgefield Library
Telephone: 203-438-2282
Contact Name: Lesley Lambton
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In January of 2015, American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3,000 foot rock...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Moffly Media Evening of Art, Wine & Jazz Pepsi Rock Series powered by Xfinity Join us in the lobby at 7:15pm for an Italian wine tasting by Pera Wines and an art exhibit! This ten-time...

Cost: $95

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

FREE community event: Join Dawn Kurth, of No Kidding Nutrition (www.nokiddingnutrition.com) for a workshop sure to be of interest for anyone who's dealt with the six o'clock scramble or had one too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Ave.
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“The Father of Newgrass and King of Telluride” If joy were a person, Sam would bring both peace and frenzy. He’d be full of music, light, and energy that soothes even as it...

Cost: Reserved – $35, General Admission Lawn – $22

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Avenue Extension
Western Connecticut State University
Danbury, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Woodcock Nature Center plans Under the Harvest Moon Benefit Event Friday, September 21 One of the largest fundraisers of the year for Woodcock Nature Center, Under the Harvest Moon on Friday,...

Cost: $80/person

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Rd
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Wildlife trafficking generates more than $10 billion a year for transnational organized criminal networks. Join us to learn about the work our Nature Initiative is doing to further the strategic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Magazine Broadway & Cabaret Series Partially underwritten by Adam Broderick Salon & Spa This Opera/Rock Mash-up sensation blends iconic opera classics with rock and roll hits...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

The 58th annual Lewisboro Library Fair is Saturday, September 22 from 10 am to 4 pm at Onatru Farm Town Park (99 Elmwood Road in South Salem). The Fair features huge Book, “Attic Treasures”...

Cost: free

Where:
Onatru Farm Town Park
99 Elmwood Road
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Lewisboro Library
Telephone: 914-875-9004
Contact Name: Liz Gabriele
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags