The Letter M
The Meylers’ Martinis & Meatballs party brings a house to life
Photographs by Adam Lerner
Allison Meyler’s paintings have a charmingly distinct style: abstract yet unintimidating, colorful yet understated. Her portraits are not true-to-life but capture the soul of the subject. Her nudes exude sensuality but don’t make the coy blush. In the dark of winter, her lively colors and whimsical style reap joy.
It’s this artistic thread that Meyler weaves into the Ridgefield home she shares with husband Stuart and 16-year-old twins Henry and Lily. In 2004, the Meylers moved from the Copps Hill area to this 1890s West Lane farmhouse that sits hard by the road. The first step after moving in was to strip off the wallpaper and paint the entire house a gleaming white, eventually giving the hardwood floors a frosty finish as well.
It’s on that canvas that Meyler created the current home. A small foyer leads guests into a stylish front room, where small pieces of pottery lines narrow white shelves. A grey reupholstered velvet sofa anchors a handcrafted wooden coffee table. Meyler is a member of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists and supporter of the group’s annual Festive Home, a pop-up boutique selling holiday gifts. From Festive Home, she added seasonal décor: a floral string of bling, calling birds, and sparkly stockings. A wide opening welcomes visitors into the dining room, where a tag-sale wooden dining table is centered between a wall of bay windows and a white-lacquer sideboard. A swinging door leads to a stark-white kitchen, with a small-tile backsplash, petite center island, and round dining table filling a spherical windowed nook.
The kitchen leads directly into the family room—which is the star of the show. Large and welcoming, the room is lined on one side by a wall of glass providing a spectacular view of the spacious yard and garden, and by the other with a much-used tile-framed fireplace topped with Meyler’s abstract portrait of daughter Lily. A large sectional anchors the room, punctuated by a circular glass coffee table and accompanied by two mid-century-modern chairs (from the Nutmeg Festival at St. Stephen’s), a bird pillow, and throws.
It’s the family room that holds host to the Meylers’ annual Martinis & Meatballs party. Held in early December, the do is a boisterous affair for 40-some friends who Stuart and Allison have collected from shared interests, through connections of Henry and Lily, and Allison’s art activity. “As you can see from my design sense, I believe in less is more,” says Allison. “So for a party, I did not want to spend the day preparing all these dishes and having guests arrive teetering with platters.”
Now the counter that separates the kitchen from the living room is the martini bar, with vodka, gin, vermouth, stemmed glasses, shakers, and the recipe for this signature drink. A large spigoted glass container holds a pre-made Cosmopolitan mix—a vodka concoction of cranberry juice, lime juice, and Cointreau. Shake and enjoy. And they did.
In the dining room, a silver serving dish of small, piping-hot meatballs rests next to tiny forks and plates. Pigs in a blanket and quichettes break from the M regimen. A glass bowl of white M&Ms (coincidence?) restores order to the lettered theme.
While Allison’s design skills fill the home, she gets whispers of advice from Sue Appleton-Webster, whose Swoon design store in Westport stocks vintage items—coffee-table books, pillows, furniture (and Meyler’s art). But ultimately the home is Meyler’s own inspiration. “When I see something I like, I get it,” she says.
“I love to have a connection to my art, whether I created it or bought it. We went to Aldrich Undercover, and we won a collection of paintings. It was a dream come true,” she says of a fundraiser at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
And while one finely detailed Aldrich work that hangs in her dining room is wildly different than her own whimsical work, it somehow fits right in. “I love mixing different styles and have them work together—the house is mix of small scenes and vignettes. I just love it.”