The rock is imposing: craggy, but softened by tufts of cordgrass. It’s a commanding presence amid the Long Island Sound, one steeped in history—an astonishing 600 million years in age. Seduced by the site, a couple from Greenwich, Connecticut, who had always wanted to live by the water, quickly enlisted a formidable design team—designer Linda Ruderman, architect Don H. Aitken, landscape architect Janice Parker and builder Ken Bacco, who has since retired—along with art curator Margot Stein, owner of Margot Stein Gallery, to create their dream “bucket-list” home, a comfortable place to host their family of three grown children and seven grandchildren. The property informs the palette with references to the beach and water through pale peach, dusty aqua, beiges and creams. “Every room you walk into faces water,” Ruderman says. “We wanted to embrace the view, not upstage it.”
Nature, however, wasn’t as welcoming. “It was a very challenging site,” Aitken says. “The 1.8-acre property seems almost island-like but is connected back to the shoreline by a sandy causeway.” The restrictive outline of the rocky grounds, along with stringent FEMA regulations, provided little flexibility for the layout of the house, he says, “but worked to our advantage with living spaces on the first and second floors facing south, toward the views of the Long Island Sound.” The 10,000-square-foot “stone country estate”—as the team refers to it—is built to last in environmentally challenging conditions. All exterior doors and windows are solid mahogany, and the roof is slate instead of a more vulnerable wood shingle.
While the wife has a passion for antiques, the couple embraced a cleaner look for the interiors that Ruderman punctuated with Biedermeier style. A key aspect was bringing in silk and wool rugs from Orley Shabahang, which are handmade and washed for softness. The wife fell in love with the look when she saw an ad for the company in a magazine. “I love the modern aesthetic,” she says, “and I wanted a more eclectic style.”
Outside, Parker followed the lead of the site for the landscaping. “The architecture is this rock,” she says, referring to the grounds. But the wife also wanted roses and an English garden— no small task on the ruddy, weather-beaten site, which had lost much of its precarious vegetation to Hurricane Sandy. “Native plantings needed to be salt-tolerant,” says Parker, who delivered a lush, romantic cottage look in the more intimate areas around the house with hardy Rugosa roses and blooms such as Montauk daisies. “I was grateful to create raised plant beds, with flowers and seasonal display,” she adds. And in this coastal setting, “an infinity pool was a no-brainer,” Parker says, pointing out how the pool seamlessly blends into the sound.
One of the most beautiful terraces to take in this view is from the master bedroom, a tranquil space in an envelope of blue-green watery hues. “You feel like you’re on a boat,” the wife says. Upholstered walls create a cozy ambience, and a custom Biedermeier-style bed adds a warm element. French doors on both sides lead to a curving porch, where there’s an outdoor replace and a killer view of New York City. It is the ideal place to end the day. “My husband and I go around pinching ourselves,” the wife says. “It’s sheer perfection—a dream come true.”