DEFINING THE FLOW The interior of the house was completely gutted — including the removal of padded, pleated fabric walls. “The walls looked like a quilt,” VanderHorn says. “Almost every room had [fabric] on the walls and it was on some of the ceilings as well.”
Wright and his team upgraded the home's mechanical and plumbing systems. “And the deterioration of the existing electrical system was worse than we projected, so we ended up redoing all of it,” he says.
His team also discovered mismatched floor structures in some areas of the main house and had to reinforce the exterior walls where they removed ceiling joists. “The additions were poorly done, about 40 years ago. The ceiling heights did not match — there were parts where it went up and they had put soffits over the area to conceal it,” Wright says. “In other areas there was a 2-inch step down for the addition.”
The gutted interior provided a blank slate. VanderHorn's design emphasis was on circulation. “The house had been added to and changed so much, it had no formal circulation left — one room led into another,” he says. Now the main hall acts as a central core with two doorways on either side that lead to the library, dining, living, and family rooms. The core also holds a new “flying spiral” staircase that replaces the oak stairway, which did not fit the French theme. “The old staircase had a wall underneath. This one does not, which is more dramatic and makes the area feel spacious,” VanderHorn says.
The team did preserve two details from the original living room, now the dining room: the parquet floor and the marble mantel. “The inlaid floor was too thin to pull out and reuse,” Wright says. “We protected it with Masonite and plastic.”
The right wing was updated with a library and guest suite with its own entrance, entry hall/parlor, enclosed garden, bedroom, bath, and closets. VanderHorn describes it as a “home within a home.”
This wing also has three garage bays and an upper deck that leads off one of the bedroom suites on the second floor center addition. The left wing is primarily a service wing with a mudroom, laundry, powder room, staff suite, and a back stairway.
Project scope: A substantial — almost two-story — addition, plus upgrades to the exterior and main floor plan of a 1958 house
Square footage before: 11,500 square feet
Square footage after: 13,400 square feet
Duration of project: 2 years
Architects: Douglas A. VanderHorn, design partner and Tony Kastor, project architect, Hilton-VanderHorn Architects, Greenwich, Conn.
Contractor: Kelly Wright, and project superintendent Jeff Hoffman, Wright Brothers Builders, Westport, Conn.