Sam Allen Designs a Sophisticated Westport Home for a Family of Six
Designer Sam Allen delivers stylish, sophisticated interiors with a child-friendly flair
Photography by Keith Scott Morton
When a Westport family decided it was time for a bigger home, they didn’t have to go far. They simply bought the house under construction next door. Working closely with local builder Walter Mattera, the homeowners were able to customize the property—tweaking the design, adding a couple of rooms—to meet all of their needs. First and foremost, with four children and a golden retriever, that meant furnishings and finishes that were practical and durable, but also stylish and sophisticated. “I wanted a comfortable house where people would come in and feel free to sit anywhere and put their feet up,” says the homeowner. “And yet it needed to be very well put together and chic.”
So they turned to Westport-based designer Sam Allen. “Architecturally the house is great,” says Allen, pointing to exquisite detailing such as the crown moldings and stained hardwood floors. “The goal was to create a timeless, yet transitional vibe,” he says.
Set on one landscaped acre on a circle with lots of other families, the five-bedroom Colonial has a finished attic and basement, and large, light-filled rooms with high ceilings. To play up the modern, clean lines, and maintain a sense of flow and cohesiveness throughout, the designer chose a neutral color palette—taupes and grays—then added pops of color in unexpected ways: a Rothko-style abstract painting, a Kelly green Chinese bar, a pair of orange Christopher Spitzmiller lamps.
For the living room, where the couple entertains frequently, Allen created a glamorous Paris-meets-Old Hollywood look. A custom Lucite waterfall coffee table sits beneath an Astele crystal beaded chandelier; while linen and metallic-flecked window treatments add just the right amount of glitz.
By contrast, the Belgian-inspired family room has a more relaxed feel. A gray driftwood coffee table with a hint of industrial tin around the edges sits atop a hand-loomed wool rug from Istanbul. The muted tones of the Ikat throw pillows pick up the colors in a 1940s French oil painting done on weathered oak. Deep Lee sofas are covered in a soft, beige Schumacher linen; mindful of the kid-friendly directive, however, function was a high priority. “The sofas are tight-backed so you don’t have to be consistently fluffing them,” he says. “The fabrics are easy to get stains out of. The texture and detail on the rug is very forgiving.”
Allen deftly brought the two styles together in the foyer, with its icy blue walls, wrapped silver-leaf Parsons-style console and sleek Moroccan bench covered in blue linen. Shagreen lamps and a circular mirror add a feminine touch; “I crossbred the Belgian with the glam look of the living room,” Allen explains. “It’s a little bit of casual and elegance.” Even the study, with its dark-wood paneling, has a light transitional feel. Wheat-colored grass-cloth walls provide the backdrop for a mix of modern and vintage pieces, including a pair of 1940s French leather club chairs with original brown velvet seat cushions. “You need the juxtaposition of old and new to pull together a very sophisticated environment,” says Allen.
Upstairs, in the master suite, with its his-and-hers walk-in closets, sitting area and dressing room, the designer kept things classic and crisp: a white-linen scalloped headboard, large ivory Shagreen bedside tables, brown Christopher Spitzmiller lamps with gold detailing around the base. “These are speak-for-themselves lamps they will have forever,” he notes. “Certain things make a difference when it comes to giving a room character.” Case in point, the guest room with its gold antiqued wooden sunburst mirrors, woven-raffia lampshades, antelope-patterned rug and cashmere-covered bench. “The use of textures is very understated but impactful,” he says. “It adds more dimension to a space.”
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A version of this article appeared in the February 2014 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Youthful Exuberance.