Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Art of It

A painter finds her canvas by redesigning her house



Photographs by Tim Lee

Claire Melbourne has always been creative. She studied art in college and designed outerwear for 14 years, before leaving her job to care for her three boys. But it wasn’t until she met interior designers Susan Buzaid and Robin Curnan, owners of Ridgefield’s Olley Court, that she began to think of herself as an artist. “I went into Olley Court to buy pillows, and that is how the whole thing started,” says Melbourne with a laugh. “Now, I feel like I am working again.”    

“Claire’s work caught on like wildfire,” says Curnan, who “discovered” Melbourne while dropping off pillows and other home furnishings at Melbourne’s Waccabuc house. “It’s very decorative,” Curnan says of Melbourne’s style. “She’ll paint with gold, blue or whatever color, depending on what our clients want. We had a successful show of her work this fall.” In fact, Melbourne’s work was hanging in the store on a recent visit.

Inspired by the collaboration, Melbourne turned to Olley Court’s Susan Buzaid to help finish the redesign of her house. “We bought an ugly house on a beautiful property. It was a scary house,” admits Melbourne, who moved out of Manhattan ten years ago and immediately began a three-step renovation. For years, renovating her house was her main creative outlet. Utterly transformed, both inside and out, the house is a testament to the owner’s eye and decorating flair. Her unusual, understated furniture and paint choices provide the perfect backdrop for her bright acrylic paintings and living spaces for her busy family.

The stunning ground-floor kitchen is the ultimate entertainment spot. It features an open floor plan with clean white cabinets and a giant island. There is a wet bar on the other side of a stained oak wall, as well as an ample kitchen sitting area, styled by Buzaid, which includes a cowhide custom table and gas fireplace.

In the full, finished basement, visitors will find a second kitchen, with convenient access to the pool. Melbourne’s oldest son had a dinner party for twenty of his local friends, where the guests cooked together in that kitchen and enjoyed their feast. The rest of the basement features a gym, a ping pong table, and enviable amounts of built in storage.

In the back of the house, overlooking the pool, is a sunroom that is Melbourne’s favorite room. “I call it my Sunday room because I can read, take a nap, watch a movie, and no one bothers me there,” she says. Her new studio over the garage is big enough for her to make large scale commissions and work with unusual compositions, focusing on color and texture.

“Her house is her pride and joy, and it’s beautiful,” comments friend and fellow artist Pamela Stoddart, who lives in Ridgefield. But when Melbourne’s renovation neared completion, Stoddart encouraged her friend to take an abstract painting class at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. “She was always really good at representational art—portraits, especially—but she knew right away what she wanted to do on the canvas,” says Stoddart. “She wanted to go big. I’m happy for her that it’s taking off.”

Melbourne’s unusual, understated furniture and paint choices provide the perfect backdrop for her bright acrylic paintings. Her new studio over the garage is big enough for her to make large-scale commissions and work with unusual compositions, focusing on color and texture.  

Melbourne is enjoying her newfound purpose, and is especially excited about her recent donation of a painting to a major New York City fundraiser for epilepsy. “It’s nice not to play tennis every day,” she jokes, referring to a problem faced by many stay-at-home moms when their children are no longer underfoot.

Melbourne says that her relationship with Olley Court, which often showcases local artists, has pushed her to take her art practice more seriously. “At first, it was hard for me to sell my work—I had to learn to separate,” she says, articulating a problem many artists would be happy to have. “My relationship with Olley Court means that I have a support team, which is great.”

 

SPECIAL TOUCH
With a little help from her friends, artist Claire Melbourne renovated her Waccabuc home. Mixing contemporary furniture and fabrics with antiques, she worked with designers at Olley Court to create a stylish haven for her family. Her rich acrylic paintings are about color, texture, and composition.

GREAT DIMENSIONS
The scale of Melbourne’s kitchen means there are never too many cooks. In the attached sitting room, custom furniture with natural slipcovers is timeless, while bold pillows and paintings provide color and whimsy. The concrete kitchen table is an excellent vantage point to see the room’s dramatic lighting—a woven, organic chandelier hangs over the table; a minimalist pendant lights the bar; and three metal pendants are just right for the island.  

DINING IN
There is nothing sterile about Melbourne’s white kitchen. Many windows, ample seating, and an open floor plan make this one of the most inviting spots in the house—be it for entertaining a crowd or intimate family dinners around the island. The natural wood wall divides the kitchen from the bar without interrupting the flow of the room.  

Mom Cave
The sunroom gives Melbourne her own space to put her feet up and restore. Designers from Olley Court commissioned a North Carolina artist to make the lamp from recycled telephone pole timber. New fabric, ikat pillows, and a Made Goods tray allowed Melbourne to repurpose furniture she already owned.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

See this weekend's events in the area!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Brought to Light

Designer Maureen Rivard was put off by the overgrown property and dark, outdated interior of her future home when she first visited it. It took six visits, including one accompanied by a builder friend, before Rivard realized that cosmetic changes were really all that were needed to convert the house into a charming residence.

Collectors Welcome

When these homeowners returned from abroad, they wanted an antique house large enough to hold the trappings of their travels. They found that and much, much more. A house that's been around more than 250 years is bound to have a few secrets.

Simon Says

Rose-Colored Cool

This North Street home is sleek, clean, and supercool, which is why owner Nicole Rose loves to entertain there.

For Miles

The pale sunlight illuminates a stand of winter birches. Above, a cool blue sky stretches like a canopy. Indeed it’s easy to imagine one has entered an Impressionist painting while standing on the back porch of “Deer Run,” a country estate that occupies more than 300 privately owned acres in Redding.

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