When a globetrotting couple from Russia decided to put down roots in Greenwich, Connecticut, they wanted the kind of elegant home that would fit in as beautifully in the suburbs as it would in the English countryside. So, they turned to local architect Douglas VanderHorn to craft an impressive Georgian residence that would transcend its location. “They wanted a gracious estate that would make a more formal statement,” says VanderHorn. “We decided to go with a traditional Georgian style because it’s internationally recognized for its handsome, timeless aesthetic.”
The resulting manse is a study in breathtaking symmetry, with a serious brick façade accented with limestone quoins and chimney caps. And though VanderHorn and his team researched the classic 18th-century Georgian estates of master architects for inspiration before starting the project, his own interpretation also manages to embrace fresh, modern style—something he accomplished by simply paring down. “In general, you don’t want too much of a good thing,” he says with a laugh. “A Georgian home in the 1700s would have had a lot more detailing, but we didn’t want to overdo it. We didn’t want the moments of architectural interest to become visual clutter.”
Despite demonstrating restraint, however, VanderHorn’s mark is felt throughout the interiors—from the expansive Palladian windows and heavy molding to the intricate plaster cornices and arched openings. All of this set a luxe backdrop when it came time for designer Inson Wood to put the finishing touches on the interiors: a job made infinitely easier by the incredible material palette. Tumbled Botticino marble on the floors in the entry foyer and white statuary marble fabricated by Chesney’s on the surrounds of each of the seven fireplaces contribute to the old-world feel, while cerused white-oak flooring elsewhere offers a contemporary feel. “Every material has a very interesting texture,” Wood says. “There are almost no flat or smooth surfaces. I wanted the pieces I selected to feel the same way, so I tried to cultivate a hand-warped and natural feel.”
Even the Venetian plaster used on the walls in the center reception area, for example, has been hand-waxed and formulated with gold dust. “It’s a shimmer that you can barely see, but it adds warmth to the white walls,” Wood explains. “The effect is fancy and elaborate yet also very subtle.” Columns distinguish the reception area from the open dining and living areas on either side. In lieu of walls, a pair of glass screens provides a sense of separation without sacrificing the flow of light. “The living, sitting and dining rooms are open in this fantastic space, which lends itself very well to cocktail parties where people are wandering about,” Wood says.
In the dining room, modern artwork and simple Swedish furnishings complement the comfortable, contemporary pieces and neutral palette of the adjacent living area. In the more intimate spaces, colorful antique rugs, ornate French and Russian furnishings, and pieces from the owners’ existing collection are combined seamlessly. “Many times we create these historical mansions to be period-perfect,” Wood says. “In reality, however, people from those times would have included pieces from a number of countries and eras.”
Indeed, in the wife’s elegant sitting room, inspired by a 17th-century French chateau, gilded moldings and crystal chandeliers are joined by an eclectic Buddha head that rests atop an antique Biedermeier desk. On the other end of the spectrum, too, is the husband’s office, where African masks and trophies from his many safaris sit peaceably alongside a handsome desk and a Chippendale cabinet. “It was important that they each have their own space,” Wood says. “They both have very good taste. They are an international family that has traveled widely and experienced many different cultures, and that is what is represented in the design of their home.”
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 New York issue of Luxe Interiors + Design.