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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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TOUR KATHRYN M. IRELAND’S SANTA MONICA HOME THAT’S BIG ON BOHEMIAN DECOR

The former Million Dollar Decorators star plays and works amid her boho “mishmash” — complete with a garden straight out of a Moroccan riad.

“I spent so much time going to work when my kids were younger that the only person who got to enjoy my house was my housekeeper,” quips British-born designer of textiles and interiors Kathryn M. Ireland.

After 25 years in Santa Monica, California, she has finally committed to the city’s work-from-home ethos with her new micro-compound, purchased last year from the actor Tobey ­Maguire. “I wanted to be able to cross the courtyard to go to the office,” she explains.

Kathryn ireland

Ireland cools off in her pool, framed by the back of the main house, a 1990s addition by architect Ruben S. Ojeda to the original 1920s Spanish-style cottage.

Known for her boho spirit and exuberant use of color, Ireland has warmed up the 1920s Spanish main house and made it feel more cohesive with the property’s two other structures — a guest cottage and a modern back studio.

And she’s done it using a “mishmash” (as she likes to call it) of her brand’s signature textiles, English and French antiques, patchwork rugs, and eclectic accents, from a hand-painted Sicilian table to the whimsical photograph of a horse having tea that hangs in one of two kitchens. (“Yes, I use them both,” she says.)

bohemian decor santa monica homes
Trevor Tondro

In the living room, the custom sofa is in a linen velvet from Ireland’s fabric collection, and the armchairs are covered in an Otis Textiles linen slipcover (left) and a fabric purchased in Marrakech (right). The rag rug is from Amadi Carpets, the steel-framed sliding doors are by Chateau Domingue, and the wall hanging is a 19th-century suzani.

The former Million Dollar Decorators star — her clients include Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Steve Martin — turned the courtyard into an oasis. The outdoor lounge, with its wicker pendants and striped banquettes, is now the perfect vantage point for watching watercolor sunsets. Newly planted succulents and a freshly installed swimming pool create, she says, an “Ibiza-meets–Luis Barragán” vibe.

She hosts dinner parties in the back studio, roasting chicken in her cherry-red AGA stove. Instead of cabinets, she uses her own textiles as curtains to disguise shelves of pots and pans. Defining the dining area is a monolithic, floor-to-ceiling 18th-century English wooden cabinet that’s filled with design books, several of them written by Ireland herself. The table, which seats up to 26, is also antique and “very important,” she observes, adding, “I like to use that word when an antique’s good.”

bohemian decor santa monica homes

Artworks by Hugo Guinness, Martin Mull, Thomas Hart Benton, and others hang above a Mexican console.

Keeping watch over guests is a photo of Ireland in the style of an odalisque taken from an old Scalamandré advertising campaign. “It’s kind of cheeky,” she says. There’s also a piano (“because someone can always play”), and when she’s ready to scamper off in her Birkenstocks across the courtyard to bed, the revelry will often continue into the night.

bohemian decor santa Monica homes
Trevor Tondro

The built-in stucco sectional in the outdoor lounge is topped with cushions in a custom Kathryn M. Ireland outdoor fabric. The table is from her French Finds collection, and the chairs are by Consort.

When it’s just her, she eats in the combined kitchen and TV room in the main house. Under a vivid landscape of the Santa Monica Pier by photographer Stephen Wilkes, she settles into the oversize L‑shaped sofa, which is topped with pillows in beach-glass hues.

bohemian decor santa monica homes
Trevor Tondro

At Kathryn M. Ireland’s live-work compound in Santa Monica, a studio building designed in the 1970s by the firm Koning Eizenberg serves as both an office and entertaining area. The vintage Willy Guhl fiber-cement chairs and planters are from Inner Gardens.

The stonewashed linen fabrics are from her son Otis Weis’s new textile line, Otis Textiles, which he describes as “a contemporary collaboration of both our tastes.” (Also launching this spring is her new online site, the Perfect Room, which will offer room bundles curated by Ireland and other designers, including Michael S. Smith, Barry Dixon, and Beth Webb.)

In the living room, a 19th-century Uzbek textile hangs over the red linen-velvet sofa as a symbol of Ireland’s design empire. “This I bought many years ago, and it was the inspiration for my Safi Suzani print,” she says of her iconic textile pattern. “You mix things up with old and new,” she says in a room where the furnishings include 17th-century French chairs, an 18th-century Mexican console, and a cocktail table from her furniture line.

bohemian decor santa monica homes
Trevor Tondro

Ireland designed the hand hammered–iron canopy bed and the sofa in the master bedroom. The cocktail table is African, and the bed-curtains are in one of her fabrics.

The latter, a simple wood piece, is covered with objects both precious and not. “I’m always picking things up,” she says, “whether it’s an Indian cowbell, a flea-market Buddha, or that little tartan chair in the corner. Things just speak to me.”

The powder room is covered in a pale paisley wallpaper, and in her son Louis’s bedroom, Indian blankets from the Santa Monica flea market reflect Ireland’s lifelong love of needlework. “I won a prize when I was seven years old for my patchwork quilt,” she muses. “I used to do perfect hexagons, but now you can do it so rustically.”

bohemian decor santa monica homes
Trevor Tondro

Below: Ireland’s Barley Twist bed is topped with Indian bedding from her collection. The pillows and curtains are in her fabrics, the chair is by Sika Design, the lamp is from Hollywood at Home, and the rug is by Woven.

Upstairs, there’s a reading nook with an upholstered chair and ottoman in a new pattern — her first foray into digital printing — inspired by a summer trip to Maine.

“I’ve always been a hand printer, but when my mentor, Robert Kime, said he was doing digital and I realized what it could do, especially this painterly look, I had to try it,” she says. “There’s a movement back from beige and plain to color and pattern again—whether it’s on fashion models or on the walls.”

bohemian decor santa monica homes

In the powder room, the sink and stand are by Kreoo, the fittings are by Fantini, the mirror is by Arteriors, and the wallpaper is from Ireland’s line.

The raffia sheers floating around her iron canopy bed are another of her designs, and the bedspread is an antique Indian textile in vivid oranges and reds, a pair of hues (“They are just so uplifting”) that recur throughout the compound.

By contrast, the master bath — which sports a contemporary look with its quartz floors and modern glass shower — might just be the most understated room in the whole place. “I like to hide the loo, so I’m a big believer in a little pony wall,” she says.

Back to Ireland’s reality in the bedroom, where a quirky red Sicilian mirror has a prominent place. “It’s Persian candlesticks living well with Chinese nightstands, an African table, and a French piece,” she says, describing her beloved mishmash. “If only people could live so effortlessly together.”

This story was originally published in the April 2018 issue of ELLE DECOR.

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Too Faced Founders Jerrod Blandino And Jeremy Johnson Are Selling Their Ultra Glam Beverly Hills Home

The home that makeup moguls Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson bought and renovated to celebrate their 20th anniversary is now on the market for $3 million. Glitz, glamour, and drama included at no extra cost.

too faced beverly hills home
Ryan Garvin

The 1937 home blends Too Faced’s old-meets-new aesthetic. The ivy-covered, English-style exterior opens up to a whirlwind of fabulous patterns, Art Deco lighting, and bright color after bright color inside. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an unadorned white wall in the home (not that anyone is missing it).

too faced beverly hills home
Ryan Garvin

“I wanted the glamour of the golden era of Hollywood to be there, but in a modern way,” Jerrod told ELLEDecor.com last year. He describes the vibes as “pastel pop,” with traditional references back to the city throughout, such as the Beverly Hills Hotel’s iconic banana leaf wallpaper in the powder room.

too faced beverly hills home
Ryan Garvin

The couple bought the home for $2.44 million from Who What Wear co-founder, Katherine Power, and her husband, Justin Coit.

too faced beverly hills house
Ryan Garvin
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Jerrod and Jeremy enlisted friend and interior designer Robin Strickler to imbue their personal flair into the 2,121-square-foot home. The home is designed for entertaining friends with a formal dining room and a chef’s kitchen, plus a pool and brick patio outside.

too faced beverly hills house
Ryan Garvin

“At Too Faced, we celebrate the fact that it’s fun to be a girl. So there’s always a level of celebration in everything we do,” Jerrod said. “I really wanted my friends to feel that when they came in — a flavor of Too Faced, a glossy, glittery mascara world happening.”

Tracy Maltas and Gina Dickerson of Douglas Elliman represent the listing.

Feast on more photos below.

too faced beverly hills house
Ryan Garvin
too faced beverly hills house
Ryan Garvin
too faced beverly hills house
Ryan Garvin

h/t Los Angeles Times

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Ceiling Decor: Yeah, It’s a Thing Now

Consider the large, uninterrupted blank canvas that is your ceiling. Now channel your inner Michelangelo. That’s right, this “fifth wall,” as interior designers are calling it, can make a sty-lish impact when decorated in hues or patterns that complement a room’s furnishings.

Continue reading Ceiling Decor: Yeah, It’s a Thing Now

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