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Tour a Timeless Colonial Home in Connecticut

A thoughtful makeover restores a Fairfield home’s architectural integrity.

Text by Paula M. Bodah, From Next Magazine,

Some houses just have a naturally good vibe, even when they’re hardly perfect from an architectural standpoint. Take this 1951 colonial in a leafy Fairfield neighborhood. Over the decades, families had moved in and added bits and pieces, in whatever style was in vogue. By the time its current owners came along, the house sported a mishmash of architectural styles.

Still, the home spoke to the couple. “It had good energy,” the wife says. “It’s clearly been well-loved by everyone who has lived in it, and that energy was really present.”

It was the husband’s idea to call on architect Hannah Robertson, one of his wife’s best friends from college. Robertson had two main goals: to restore the home’s architectural integrity and to create a more cohesive interior floor plan.

On the exterior, she peeled away extraneous details, replacing circular windows with rectangular, black-framed versions and removing the shutters. The blocky, molding-heavy roof of the front portico gave way to a simple peak, and plain columns stood in for the old fluted ones.

Landscape architect Mark Hicks, meanwhile, reworked the approach, laying a new driveway that curves gracefully between a pair of stone walls and puts the focus on the pretty new entrance. As for plantings, he says, “What was there was a bit tired and not well-detailed.” Now, the front yard sports a quietly elegant look, with a semiformal border of boxwood accented with flowering shrubs and perennials for seasonal color.

Inside, Robertson rejiggered walls for a more natural flow that gives every room a view to the outdoors. “She loves a traditional approach,” Robertson says of her client, “but she wanted a looser, more open interior.”

As she did with the outside, Robertson edited the interior architecture for a clean, consistent look. “There were seven or eight different profiles of trim detailing and paneling,” she explains. “We picked two to use throughout; it lets you see the big picture instead of being distracted by details.”

Designers Ariana Villalta (another longtime close friend of the homeowner) and Ali Vanderpool brought a light touch to the interiors. “The whole house is centered around the outside,” says Villalta, “so we wanted to keep the inside simple in terms of lighting and decor.”

“We kept the scheme really classic, so it ties in with the architecture,” adds Vanderpool. In the public spaces, from the living room to the sunny family room to the kitchen, the palette is simple as well, with accents of blue against a backdrop of Benjamin Moore White Dove.

The homeowners, parents to a teenager and two grade-schoolers, are delighted to be next in a long line of people filling the house with joy. All the old house needed, it seems, was one more family to love it.

Project Team Architecture: Hannah Robertson, Hannah I. Robertson Architecture Interior design: Ariana Villalta and Ali Vanderpool, The Elegant Abode Builder: Tallman Segerson Builders Landscape design: Mark Hicks, Elise Landscapes & Nursery


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