See How an Antique Collecting Couple Decks the Halls of Their Bethel Townhouse
Dave Cote and Chris Chervenak are serious collectors, but they don’t always take their collection seriously. A sober stone statuette of a saint that occupies a bar area of the living room in their Bethel townhouse, for instance, wears a garland for the holidays. “We refer to him as our ‘bar saint,’” says Cote, who works as corporate visual merchandising manager for Ethan Allen. “It’s about having a sense of humor when you’re a collector.”
Chervenak adds, “As traditional and classic as we are in what we collect, we like to have unexpected things in our home, just as I like to have in my business.” He is referring to his Norwalk-based antiques shop, DC Kingswood, noted for its mix of eclectic classic goods and whimsical curiosities.
Cote and Chervenak, who have lived in their three-story townhouse for 15 years and have been a couple for 20, call it unfortunate that they share the same tastes in décor, because it means they cannot stop amassing objects, artworks and accessories. “What we have and live with is definitely curated,” says Cote, “and it didn’t happen overnight.” Chervenak, who’s always scouting for antiques to sell, admits, “Some things that I buy planning to sell in the shop never make it there, instead they make it into our home.”
Throughout their Georgian-style brick townhouse, surfaces and walls feature vignettes of intriguing, lovely items. A dresser in the master bedroom is topped with an array of boxes—wooden, leather, glass, silver-plated—while a wall in a guest bedroom is marked by vintage oars whose varnished surfaces gleam from the light cast by antique lamps. “Here’s a perfect area of the home where what we’ve assembled comes from estate sales and, well, dumpster divings,” admits Cote.
The tone for the entire home begins at the foyer. There, walls painted with Ralph Lauren’s warm Sandstone establish color schemes elsewhere, while a careful assemblage of painted landscapes, a wicker basket, animal horns and other decorative items on a wooden console announce that this is a home of collectors. “We really believe in the classics,” Cote emphasizes, “so the whole home is very menswear-inspired, masculine, restrained.”
Every room color is inspired by that initial shade in the foyer, the idea being that each space flows into one another. A navy blue guest room, a burgundy master bedroom, a cranberry-hued kitchen, a mossy-green den all reference the shade of sandstone at the entry. “Before filling each room,” says Chervenak, “we decided on the color and proceeded from there.”
The couple entertains frequently, and their favorite annual fall event is when they gather a dozen or so friends together for an informal meal of “chili by the fire” at the wood-burning fireplace in the living room. Throughout the year, they host smaller dinner parties in their dining room. “In many homes, the kitchen is the hub, but for us, it’s the living room,” says Cote. “It’s where we entertain big and where Chris and I spend every evening after work.”
In keeping with their penchant for entertaining, they decorate for the holidays. Vases and mantels sprout fresh greens, though a faux branch sneaks in here or there to enhance an arrangement. In the annual search for an original Christmas tree, criteria for the perfect one include that it be tall enough to scrape the ceiling and that it have enough sturdy branches to hold antique German glass ornaments. “I’ll admit, our tree this year was a bit Charlie Brown-like,” says Cote, referencing a fir that was more trunk than greenery. Yet, the tree assumed a sculptural effect they appreciate in any object.
“I know these are just objects we own, and there are lots of them,” notes Cote, “but in the event of that great fire some day, we know exactly the things we’ll take with us first. I just hope Chris agrees that I’ll be one of them!” Chervenak nods in assurance that Cote is, indeed, a favorite item, adding, “Both of us are very house proud.”
A version of this article appeared in the December 2017 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Collective Wisdom.