Situated in a picturesque hamlet of Greenwich, Connecticut, is an elegant 90-year-old home whose architecture was inspired by George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. Its graceful design also carries hints of 18th-century English country houses and the neoclassical style popularized by Venetian architect Andrea Palladio, but the home owes its charm more to the harmony of its composition than to the beauty of its component parts.
When a young family recently purchased it, the new lady of the house was already familiar with every wall, window and nook. After all, it had been her childhood home. As a young woman, she had gone out into the world and, after marrying, bought the home with her husband, reclaiming an important part of her family history.
“She wanted to keep the house like it was when she grew up—a nice home for her children,” says Lynne Scalo, the couple’s designer. “But she also wanted to bring a more modern sensibility to the house. We wanted to make it classic for today. What I love is that they didn’t do a lot of renovation, except for the kitchen. Most of the house is pretty much the way it was.”
The homeowners’ art collection—a mixture of Warhols, ancient Chinese sculptures, modern baubles and an assemblage of historical autographed photos—helped set the tone for the interior design. Scalo chose a cool palette with small shots of color here and there.
She brought in mostly period-style furnishings, but she also mixed in some unexpected contemporary pieces to give the home an eclectic edge. “It’s a tricky balance,” she says. “I like to keep the basics classic. Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She looked good then, and she’d look good now.”
Curating the right types of pieces while considering scale, balance of color, texture and form helped the designer develop a sense of timelessness in the space. “Everything that went into this home had to be an asset. It had to be something that would enhance the architecture, would be easy to live with and would create a sense of harmony,” Scalo says. To hit the perfect pitch on all counts, many of the furnishings were custom made by Lynne Scalo Design.
Most important, the home needed to be livable—not a museum that required family and guests to move about with caution and care. “They have their friends over; they have piano lessons going on and kids running through the house,” Scalo says. “They really use the space.” So, she chose materials that are stylish but also tough enough to stand up to everyday living. “If I want to use a silk velvet, especially in a house with children, I’ll use it on the draperies,” Scalo says pointing to her use of elegance in a home bustling with activity. “The sunroom doors open, people go into the backyard and pool area and then come back inside,” she says. To maintain the level of sophistication that permeates the home while being mindful of activity, Scalo used an easy-to-clean material on the sunroom’s seating. “The chairs here, although they’re white, are made out of a beautiful wipeable type of leather. People are afraid of white, but they really shouldn’t be.”
While maintaining its classic beauty, the house has gotten a refresh and fits the family’s active lifestyle and the couple’s own aesthetic. “I may use recurring themes within my work, but each project is representative of the people who live there,” says the designer. “I really love what I do, and it’s so much fun to see things come together in a way that makes myself and the client happy.”