This Sprawling Waterfront Home Epitomizes Mediterranean Chic



Cindy Rinfret chose an armless daybed from Baker Furniture for gatherings of many people in the living room.Whereas many family members might gather in the evenings to watch a movie together or retreat to separate quarters to work on computers, this Fairfield County family often goes dancing. Disco dancing, to be precise. In what was once the library of this circa-1925, Mediterranean-style house, music is pumped out on a state-of-the-art sound system so that the parents and their four children, along with friends and myriad cousins, might dance together.

Although there is not a revolving mirrored ball in what is now referred to by the family as the disco library off the entry foyer, the home’s interior designer, Greenwich-based Cindy Rinfret, installed a chic, multi-armed brass and glass light fixture affixed to a modern take on a coffered ceiling. Both the clients and their children wanted this to be a big party house, where, as the client herself says, “we can have fun every day, entertain friends, but also be ‘us’.” Rinfret stresses, too, her client’s wish that “nothing be or feel at all stuffy, but instead playful. There’s always a hustle and bustle inside the home.”

What was originally built as a spacious suburban house meant to replicate an Italian villa more typical to the Mediterranean coast than the banks of Darien’s Five Mile River was not, however, an anomaly of the time. “There was a long tradition of substantial, well-detailed Mediterranean houses built in New England,” says Paulo Vicente, a Fairfield-based architect who doubled the size of the house to its now 9,000 square feet, taking much of the structure down to the studs in the process. “Architecturally, we can’t make an exact version of such a residence in Darien, given our climate. Our goal for this expansion and renovation was to create the kind of courtyard you’d find in an Italian Mediterranean villa and have rooms that overlook water, in this case the river.”

Landscape architects Doyle Herman Design Associates designed the rear terrace with a mix of lawn panels and brick inlays to soften the space.Vicente and Rinfret worked together, too, to fashion an interior floor plan that was both traditional yet open. “She wanted to be able to use every room and not just have some rooms be ones that you pass by and look into,” explains Rinfret.

Rinfret took exterior cues for much of her work inside the home. The blood-orange tiled roof, for instance, is referenced in a daybed and armchairs in the living room. Vicente’s choice of blue-gray shutters on the exterior are echoed in the disco library’s painted bookcases, contemporary artworks and furnishings in a Palladian-windowed family room, one of the chief architectural additions to the home. While many architectural and decorative details hark to Italian motifs, such as a printed Venetian-style wallcovering in the master bedroom, it is in the family room, in particular, that a more international feel is established, reflective of the family’s wide-ranging global travels.

“By complete coincidence, the client and I had been in Morocco at the same time,” says Rinfret. “She bought an incredible Moroccan chandelier and I bought sconces, all of which now light the room in a very sexy way at night. The jewelry of any house is the light fixtures. The hardware you use tells you immediately about the quality of the house as a whole.”

Another conspicuous detail introduced throughout by Rinfret are various metals—antique brass, satin nickel, and wrought iron that appear on everything from interior French doors, master bath fixtures, and hardware on a kitchen island as vast as a Mediterranean isle. “I like to mix metals in my projects,” says Rinfret. “Metals don’t date a house. The material grows into the interiors and ages well, assuming a patina.”

The client points out that while the house already has a certain history to it in that silent screen star Rudolph Valentino once lived there, it is the history that she and her family will create that matters most to her. “We had already lived in the neighborhood 10 years,” she says, “and always admired the house for its villa style. When I started working with Paulo and Cindy on the renovation, my goal, the whole time, was to make a house where memories are made in every one of the rooms.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 2017 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Party Perfect.

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Property of Note Listing

15 Kings Dock Road, Garrison, NY
Enjoy the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer at this 9-acre estate offering awe-inspiring vistas, stunning passive architecture and a unique private deep-water dock on the Hudson River. Sited to take full advantage of the amazing scenery, the three-bedroom residence is a triumph of modernist design featuring airy open-plan living spaces and vast window walls that dramatically frame the blissful water and mountain views. The setting, boasting ¼ mile of frontage along the river, also hosts a two-bedroom guest house, a striking Greek temple/playhouse overlooking the river and a detached garage.



View more details about 15 Kings Dock Road
Nautilus Architects
Christopher Arelt’s practice, Nautilus Architects, involves collaboration and interpretation, with each design evolving in its own way in response to the site, context and client. Chris’ work is seen as a continuation of but also a response to Modernism; or, more specifically, a return to regionalism and artistry, where clients’ projects are developed with the “head, hearts and hands” of all those involved. All of our buildings explore the use of natural light, reveal the inherent beauty of the materials being used, and bring the outdoors in.


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Laura Kaehler Architects
Laura Kaehler Architects is an Award Winning Architectural Firm. Along with Laura Kaehler, AIA, we have a talented staff of 5 architects and designers who create new homes, renovations and additions and apartment renovations. Designing a smaller footprint while obtaining a "big look" with an open floor plan design, better craftsmanship and detailing and richer materials is what we call "Responsible Luxury" and is a key element of our design philosophy.

Laura Kaehler

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Fiona Leonard Interiors
Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

Fiona Leonard Interiors

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Daniel Conlon Architects
Wind and weather, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing color and light define the rhythm of coastal living. This recent home embraces the idea with light-filled spaces , expansive views , cozy niches, and outdoor living environments. Landscape terraces and stonework ground the building to the site, while respecting all current building codes. Daniel Conlon Architects, based in Wilton CT, has designed numerous waterfront homes throughout the Northeast.

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