These Designers Helped a Millennial Couple Embrace Old-School Traditional Style
A young family goes full-on traditional in a 1930s Connecticut home.
As it turns out, millennials aren't ruining everything. In fact, rather than blowing their retirement savings on avocado toast, one particular young couple embraced a personal mission to preserve something unequivocally old school: traditional design.
As they prepared to move from a New York City apartment to a 1930s Georgian home in Greenwich, Connecticut, the duo (parents to three young kids) came to designers Bill Brockschmidt and Courtney Coleman with a bulging folder of magazine clippings in hand and one thought in mind. "They told me, 'We just want a beautiful home,'" Coleman says, "'very traditional with no modern edge.'"
Some of the impetus came from the house itself, located on a street that includes beautifully maintained homes from the same period as this Georgian, and some teardowns. "This couple value the history of the house and consider themselves stewards," Coleman says. "So we brought a sense of history to the remodeling that was done and to the interior design."
The home's classic grace is evident from the entry, where an existing curved staircase sets a sculptural backdrop for the pairing of a mahogany table and leather Regency chair. "Because of the architecture, the room didn't need anything else other than a pretty carpet," Coleman says. It introduces just a hint of the color scheme to come.
"They love faded turquoise," the designer says. "That's where we started in creating a soft palette." From the entry, shades of blue blossom in the reception hall, an arresting octagon that opens to the home's other public rooms. "It's a rather large space, so we brought it in a bit visually by covering all the walls in a pretty neoclassical urn-motif wallpaper that we recolored in soft blue," Coleman says.
Blue reappears on the sofa and chair upholstery and on lamps in the living room. "We wanted to keep it light and airy and make the most of beautiful views to the sunroom and garden terrace," Coleman says.
A long sofa (great for guests and for napping, Brockschmidt says) moors a gracious grouping of furniture, including armchairs and ottomans that easily can be moved around as guests and conversation fill the room.
"I love high-style furniture like the George III painted armchairs and the lacquered table contrasting with the straw rug and cotton curtains," Coleman says. "Humble materials in a traditional setting dial down the formality for a pretty country house look."
Outside on the terrace, lounge chairs from Munder Skiles with cushions in a Perennials fabric among the seating options that invite family and friends outside for a relaxed afternoon in the dappled sunlight.
Spilling from the living room into the sunroom, the palette continues its thread of blue as it welcomes green hues that echo lush foliage outside. Bricks painted a dark sea-glass green replaced a carpeted floor. "I thought the room would be more interesting if it looked like a porch that had been enclosed," Coleman says. Furniture, including rattan pieces, and plants were chosen to accentuate the "porchy" vibe.
Generous spans of windows and glass doors presented another challenge. "The windows are so wide; I wanted an old-fashioned fabric like chintz," Coleman says. Valances cleverly carry the fabric across the room.
In the dining space, cotton moves to the walls, in the form of a glazed chintz stripe. A hand-loomed rug unfurls beneath a Regency-style table, painted chairs, and their counterpoint: a 1950s chandelier. A 1920s-style breakfront cabinet touches again on the relaxed notion of a country house.
Serving the dining room is a kitchen given a new family-friendly layout by architect Keith Kroeger. A prep island invites guests to step up and help the cook, who has everything at hand in a galley-style work zone. Overstuffed armchairs and a hooked rug infuse happy color (and comfy curl-up spots for the kids and the dog) while a Bennison wallpaper brings a smile to Mom's face.
"She loves bird motifs," Coleman says. "She had paintings with birds, and we used bird accessories and fabrics throughout the house. She asked, 'Is this too many birds?' I laughed and said, 'You're asking the wrong person; I'm an addict, too.'"
In the library, a velvet sofa and caned chair offer prime spots to relax with a good book and pretty view.
Like the living room, the master bedroom projects a light and airy feel. A small-scale taupe-on-white wallpaper provides a bit of texture but isn't overpowering. Bennison fabric on armchairs by the original fireplace adds soft, pretty color.
Next door in the master bath, architect Kroeger simplified what was an ornate space filled with pink marble. "He gave us an art gallery-like background," Brockschmidt says. "An antique hall chair and carpet made the space come alive."
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"It was fun to work in this very traditional style," Coleman says. "It's such a truly American design style, and it makes for a really pretty house."
It's a calm haven within the edginess of modern life, a place of respite for an active family. "Traditional style is kind of avant-garde for people their age," Coleman says. "They're making a statement by not making a statement."