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Tag Archives: Connecticut

Lucy Harris Studio Invests in a Classic Look for a Financial Services Headquarters

The custom reception desk is honed Arabescato Ovulato marble, framed by slats of rift white oak veneer in an ebonized stain. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Lucy Harris Studio.

 

When a financial services company needed new offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, its executives wanted the design to embody the firm’s focus on developing long-term client relationships. The headquarters’ ambience, they decided, should not only continue to look fresh as those relationships matured, but also include nods to hospitality to make clients in a jittery financial market feel comfortable. 

Roll & Hill’s Circle pendant hangs above a Knoll table and Bernhardt chairs in the conference room. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Lucy Harris Studio.

Read more: Vocon Opts for Locally-Inspired Design at Its Cleveland Headquarters

“The architect, Dan Radman, had developed a layout that fostered a strong connection between reception and the board room and another conference room, which are client-centered spaces,” says Lucy Harris, principal of her eponymous design firm. Her team polished up the 10,850 square feet with investment pieces that include Charlotte Perriand sconces and concrete side tables by Francesco Balzano

The pantry area features Gubi stools and Apparatus pendants. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Lucy Harris Studio.

Executive offices line the perimeter, with open workstations within, all in what Harris calls “a high-contrast palette of white walls, dark furniture, and architectural elements as it felt fresh, clean, and dramatic.” And just in case the pantry and conference rooms are full, private lounge areas are carved out by slatted walls next to reception. “They open up and connect spaces by giving views and light,” Harris says, two qualities any client might appreciate.

Read more: StudiosC Creates Positive/Negative Volumes for L&R Distributors in Brooklyn

A Living Divani sofa and Thomas Hontz Associates tables form the reception seating area, beneath a Serge Mouille chandelier from Studio Twenty Seven. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Lucy Harris Studio.
The pantry’s lounge area features Vitra chairs and a Knoll table. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Lucy Harris Studio.

Read more: Kurz Architects designs a Skateboard-Friendly Office for SinnerSchrader

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A Connecticut Retreat Designed to Attract Houseguests

Finding a home in the country was the easy part. Creating a place their Manhattan friends would want to visit was the challenge.

A Country House for Their City Friends

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Alexandra Rowley

When Manhattanites Matt Rappoport and Beno Varela began looking for a new home in Connecticut, they had mixed feelings about making the move.

Mr. Rappoport, an attorney, was ready to leave his job at a large law firm, and Dr. Varela, a gastroenterologist, had found a practice he planned to join in Hamden, Conn. But their friends and social lives were in New York, even though Mr. Rappoport had grown up in Fairfield, Conn.

“We were moving out of the city to a neighborhood where we had no social ties, other than Matt’s family,” said Dr. Varela, 35.

 

“There were nerves, as a gay couple, without kids, moving to the suburbs,” said Mr. Rappoport, 31, who is now the chief executive of a finance start-up.

Matt Rappoport and Beno Varela bought and renovated a 19th-century house in Fairfield, Conn., with help from J.P. Franzen Associates Architects and RC Studio.CreditAlexandra Rowley

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Matt Rappoport and Beno Varela bought and renovated a 19th-century house in Fairfield, Conn., with help from J.P. Franzen Associates Architects and RC Studio.CreditAlexandra Rowley

But they had an idea about how to calm those nerves: Find a charming house and transform it into a destination so compelling that it would lure their friends for regular visits.

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“It was really important to us to create a beautiful space,” Dr. Varela said. “I wanted to feel like we could host and welcome people from the city.”

When they began hunting for a house in late 2016, they realized there was another issue: Most homes on lots with the leafy, country feeling they wanted were far too large — between 4,000 and 6,000 square feet.

“Coming from a 1,200-square-foot apartment, which was really big for the city, to a house that was 4,000 square feet seemed crazy to us,” Mr. Rappoport said.

 

Finally, they found a 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom home in Fairfield, dating to the 1830s. It was far from perfect: The main entrance opened directly into the kitchen; it didn’t have the home office Mr. Rappoport needed; and an oddly placed powder room made the ground floor seem dark and chopped up. But they bought it for $937,500 in March 2017 with the intention of making some changes.

The house had originally been built a short distance away, serving as a general store in the 19th century. It was moved to its present location and converted into a home in 1929. A renovation in 2011 produced the kitchen that Mr. Rappoport and Dr. Varela liked and planned to keep.

To overhaul the rest, they turned to Jack Franzen, of J.P. Franzen Associates Architects, and Rena Cherny, an interior designer who owns RC Studio, who developed plans to reconfigure the ground floor by demolishing the powder room — which sat at one end of the living room, blocking light from two windows — and create a single, bright living-and-dining area. Then they used the footprint of the old formal dining room to create a new powder room and home office.

A powder room was demolished to make room for a large, open living and dining area furnished with a Modern Lounge sectional sofa from Montauk Sofa, Fly SC1 chairs from &Tradition (from $3,029), a custom upholstered ottoman and a Lucia wool rug from Tibetano.CreditAlexandra Rowley

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A powder room was demolished to make room for a large, open living and dining area furnished with a Modern Lounge sectional sofa from Montauk Sofa, Fly SC1 chairs from &Tradition (from $3,029), a custom upholstered ottoman and a Lucia wool rug from Tibetano.CreditAlexandra Rowley

The objective was “to clean it up, but to keep the charm of it, while making better use of the spaces,” Mr. Franzen said.

“We wanted it to be cozy for entertaining, but definitely modern and fresh, while maintaining all the elements of an old home: the original windows, doors, hardware and shutters,” Ms. Cherny said. “The vibe of a country home, but with fresh furnishings.”

Achieving that took about a year and $250,000, as Ms. Cherny delicately negotiated the purchase of furniture and accessories that suited Mr. Rappoport’s preference for midcentury-modern design and Dr. Varela’s desire for softness and a touch of the traditional.

“Part of what we needed her for was to mediate between us,” Mr. Rappoport said. “To understand both of us, and find things that worked.”

Added Dr. Varela, “She was really our therapist for that entire year.”

Ms. Cherny furnished the living room with a carefully chosen mix of clean-lined, comfortable furniture, including a cushy Montauk sectional sofa, a corduroy wool Tibetano rug and a large custom-upholstered ottoman.

The dining area has harder, more angular elements, including steel-and-wood Standard chairs from Vitra, an Agnes chandelier from Roll & Hill and a slender concrete dining table from ABC Carpet & Home, as well as a moody Jenny Boot photograph that the couple bought at the New York Affordable Art Fair.

The lounge space outdoors has a Terassi sofa ($3,995) and chairs ($1,695) from Design Within Reach and Shoreline ceramic side tables from Serena & Lily ($258) arranged around a gas Kove fire table from Brown Jordan Fires ($2,636).CreditAlexandra Rowley

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The lounge space outdoors has a Terassi sofa ($3,995) and chairs ($1,695) from Design Within Reach and Shoreline ceramic side tables from Serena & Lily ($258) arranged around a gas Kove fire table from Brown Jordan Fires ($2,636).CreditAlexandra Rowley

Beyond a Dutch door, Ms. Cherny also designed a patio with a lounging area around a firepit, and a separate outdoor dining area with a long table that can seat eight, to take advantage of the bucolic, one-acre lot.

This spring, Mr. Rappoport and Dr. Varela are rerouting the driveway, to bring guests to the proper front door of the house rather than the kitchen door. But since finishing the majority of the renovation last summer, they have been pleased to discover that their house is already having the desired effect on friends.

“They enjoy it,” Dr. Varela said. “People actually do want to get out of the city more than I thought they would.”

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A version of this article appears in print on , on Page RE6 of the New York edition with the headline: This Retreat Is Designed to Attract Houseguests. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

 

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More sellers than buyers for luxury homes

Michael J. Berens

Monday, May 13, 2019

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More sellers than buyers for luxury homes

Sales of luxury homes have been falling since the beginning of the year. In most areas of the country, the number of luxury homes for sale has increased while selling prices have declined. Among higher-end properties, demand has especially dropped off as tax changes and fluctuations in the stock market have made luxury home purchases less desirable.

Many luxury homes were put up for sale following the tax reform changes that took effect as of Jan. 1 this year. Although the wealthiest households receive substantial tax breaks under the new law, those living in states with high state and local income, property, sales, and other taxes ended up paying more taxes this year because of new limits to state and local tax (SALT) deductions.

Interviews conducted by wealth investment advisors the Spectrum Group found households with incomes between $500,000 and $749,000 and those between $750,000 and $1,000,000 felt the greatest impact on their personal financial situation.

Among those hardest hit were residents of California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York — states with a substantial number of high-end luxury homes. Spectrum says there is now a wave of investors moving from high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and Illinois to low or no-tax states, such as Florida, Washington and Nevada.

That exodus is reflected in the changes in the luxury home market in recent months. Web-based real estate brokerage Redfin reports that luxury home sales declined for the second quarter in a row during the first quarter of this year.

The average sales price for luxury homes nationwide fell by 1.6%, compared to the same time last year — the first annual decline in three years. Moreover, sales of homes priced at $2 million or more plummeted by 16% to their lowest point in nearly a decade.

In its Luxury Market Report for April 2019, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing states that it is a buyer’s market for luxury homes at present. The number of listings between February and March was up by more than 2,000.

On average, homes are selling for below list price. However, the report indicates there are signs the market may be beginning to normalize. The median sales price was up $25,000 in March compared to February, at $1,425,000. Some 1,800 more luxury homes sold in March than in February, and homes were on the market 16 days less than in the previous month.

Part of the reason for the uptick in sales is the high demand for housing in some highly affluent metropolitan areas.

Even though California is one of the SALT states, it is still very much a seller’s market for homes priced at $1 million or more in tech-intensive centers like San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Sacramento. Other high-demand metro areas include Seattle; Arlington-Alexandria in Virginia; Los Angeles and nearby San Fernando Valley cities; and Denver and Boulder.

Those states with no state income tax that attract wealthy relocated households also have experienced higher-than-average sales of luxury homes. In Florida, for example, homes priced at $2 million or more have sold briskly in cities such as Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, according to local real estate website The Real Deal. Luxury homes sales in Miami have jumped 161% since a year ago. Other areas experiencing higher sales include Charleston, Boise, and Nashville.

All this shifting about will impact interior designers differently in different areas. Taking the longer view, with the luxury prices beginning to stabilize and the economy barreling along with no signs of slowing down any time soon, the market is likely to perform much better in the second quarter, leading to demand for designer services in the second half of the year.

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About the Author

Michael J. Berens

Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at mjberensresearch@gmail.com.

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Richard Meier Revisits the House That Launched His Career—50 Years Later

Five decades after completing the iconic Smith House in Connecticut, the starchitect talks with AD about designing buildings that last

Continue reading Richard Meier Revisits the House That Launched His Career—50 Years Later

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