Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Small is Beautiful

A local artist downsizes in a big way



Photographs by Rana Faure

“Mom, the house you’re buying is a tear down,” said Peggy Thomas’s daughter, diplomatically, when she first saw the house on Dowling Drive that her mother had her eye on. Cut into three illegal apartments, filthy, with the only staircase leading out the front door—the house did have its drawbacks. Cautiously undaunted, Thomas enlisted builder Tom Litwin, who helped her transform a “wreck” into “The Ship”—a smaller, trimmer showcase of simple and stylish living.

In her early 70s, Peggy Thomas is an accomplished ceramicist, who decided to downsize from her 4,700-square-foot Ridgefield home. “Finding a home for Peggy was fun but a challenge,” said realtor Terry Cigno. “We needed to incorporate all her passions into a smaller space with a ceramics studio, room for her grandchildren, and a small garden. I thought Tom Litwin would listen to Peggy, and help her realize her vision.”

Thomas started the renovation by selecting two Benjamin Moore paint chips, Bleeker Beige and Wythe Blue, which she still carries around in her wallet. A two-toned color scheme unifies the house, and simplified the process. The granite surround on the fireplace fits into the scheme, as do the kitchen counter tops. Simple maple cabinets are beautiful and understated. “I don’t like things cluttered. I didn’t want drapes, or a formal dining room. I think of it as Shaker, even though I’m not sure I’m using that word right,” said Thomas.  

The showpiece of the living room is a custom sliding barn door. Made from salvaged barn wood with wrought iron fixtures, the door exemplifies the care Thomas and Litwin put into the house. Along with its natural beauty, it hides the flat screen television during the day, and slides across the side doors to provide privacy at night. The door is also a wonderful backdrop for Thomas’s ceramics.

Litwin installed a dumb waiter in the garage to move fragile ceramics up from the studio to the kiln and the heavy clay down to the studio from the garage.

Cigno sees Thomas as part of a trend of people downsizing for a variety of reasons—empty nest, divorce, or change in financial status. Thomas sees herself as a kind of pioneer of her senior generation. She says that many of her friends are envious of her, but are paralyzed by their possessions. “There’s a cottage industry for someone who could help older people deal with their stuff,” notes Thomas. She managed to sell two-thirds of her furniture to the family who bought her former house, and repurpose her favorite possessions into her new house. She split a massive sectional sofa into pieces that work in the living room and kitchen sitting area.

Thomas is also an inspiration for those of us much or slightly younger because she developed her passion for and skill at ceramics after her daughter was fully grown and out of the house. Today, she still rides horses, is active at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, and enjoys time with her three grandsons.

Downsizing has meant that Thomas can maintain these passions. “I love to garden, but the size of my property was overwhelming. I’d have to hire a gardener, and that’s not me,” says Thomas. Moving has also meant that she has time to begin new adventures. She and her daughter recently developed Stacking Stones, a set of smooth rocks that should be the house gift of the season.

Surrounded by her two dogs, her cavorting clay polar bears, and near her daughter and grandchildren, Thomas renovated a small home to work for a big life.

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.

The Art of It

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

January 2019

Soprano Anna Netrebko joins the ranks of Renata Tebaldi, Montserrat Caballé, and Renata Scotto, taking on—for the first time at the Met—the...

Cost: Tickets: $25 | Members & Seniors $20 | Students $15 Ridgefield Library card hold

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


Sponsor: Support from The Ridgefield Press and Whistle Stop Bakery
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy a story from the book Auroraand then paint your own nightscape featuring the Northern Lights using watercolors. Add trees, buildings, snow, and more to create your own beautiful scene...

Cost: $15; $13.50 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Simon Russell Beale returns to National Theatre Live screens following broadcasts of Timon of Athens and King Lear, and his recent role in the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed...

Cost: See Website

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


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
View map »


Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Do you have a child or teen with emotional or behavioral difficulties?  Join a powerful group course and discover a wealth of facts about mental health conditions and how best to...

Cost: Free

Where:
First Congregational Church of Ridgefield
103 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: NAMI Southwest CT
Telephone: 203-984-8329
Contact Name: Karen West
Website »

More information

Do you have a child or teen with emotional or behavioral difficulties? Join a powerful group course and discover a wealth of facts about mental health conditions and how best to support...

Cost: 0

Where:
First Congregational Church of Ridgefield
103 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: NAMI Southwest CT
Telephone: 203-984-8329
Contact Name: Karen
Website »

More information

Simon Russell Beale returns to National Theatre Live screens following broadcasts of Timon of Athens and King Lear, and his recent role in the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed...

Cost: See Website

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


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
View map »


Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Caring for a loved one with a mental health condition can be overwhelming and stressful. Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session education program for family, friends and significant others...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Greenwich Hospital
5 Perryridge Road
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: NAMI Southwest CT
Telephone: (914) 527-2994
Contact Name: Janet
Website »

More information

We invite you to join us at Dojo Fairfield on Saturday January 19, 2019 when we host the founder/CEO of C.O.B.R.A. Self-Defense, Chris Sutton, for a one-day self-defense/ASRP (Active Shooter...

Cost: $129.00

Where:
DOJO FAIRFIELD
2317 Black Rock Tpke.
FAIRFIELD, CT  06825
View map »


Sponsor: DOJO FAIRFIELD
Telephone: 203.319.9989
Contact Name: Karina Gramesty
Website »

More information

Celebrate Helena Hernmarck’s materials and processes at our monthly free admission day. Work with teaching artists and Museum staff on warm wintery projects while enjoying hot cocoa and seasonal...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
View map »


Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Join artists and crafters Amelia McIsaac of Flowering Heart and Susannah White of Carapace Farm Puppetry to explore the process of felting. Work with plant-dyed wool from their small family flock...

Cost: $15; $13.50 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Comedian, actor, and impressionist Frank Caliendo has been making people laugh his entire life.  He is well known for his impressions of famous personalities: Donald Trump, Morgan Freeman, Al...

Cost: See Website

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


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

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