A City-Dwelling Couple Creates a Modern Marvel in Connecticut's Countryside



Somewhere atop a high ridge in Northwest Connecticut, there’s a house that looks like a long, linear bar of glowing rectangles. The property is remote. The homeowners enjoy the privacy conferred by the socked-away location. They also enjoy the less-obvious benefit of owning a home that’s hidden from view. Namely, when designing the strikingly modern structure, they were under no pressure to conform to the New England-y sensibility of their neighbors. Because there are no neighbors.

Every iconoclastic home has a story, and this one begins with a city-dwelling couple in search of a house in the country. Typically enough, especially when one of the buyers is a trained architect, their dream home didn’t materialize, at least not one with a for-sale sign stuck in the front yard. “Every time we found a place we liked, we’d start to think about all the ways we’d need to change it,” he recalls. “And our broker would tell us it would no longer be a good value.”

What they did find was a plot of land they loved and a magic-making partnership with Stephen Cassell and Kim Yao, two of the principal architects at Architecture Research Office. The plan started by siting the 156-foot-long, one-story structure on the ridgeline, with a wall constructed of full-height glass windows and doors, all designed to take in the painterly views over the valley. The pool was placed on the dwelling’s other side, to take advantage of afternoon light. “But there is no real front or back side,” says Cassell. “The house is almost perfectly symmetrical.”

The 3,400-square-foot home is divided into two distinct wings—a house within a house. When the couple is alone, they occupy the open-plan living/kitchen/dining spaces, which flow to the master suite. Only when their grown children or guests visit do they need to open up the wing housing the three additional bedrooms. The two halves are joined by a glass-walled and sky-lit sitting room that has multiple purposes. It’s not only a welcoming way to enter the dwelling, but also a breezy spot to settle into one of the lounge chairs designed by Jens Risom, just one of the modern masters whose pieces helped define how the interiors would be configured.

“I grew up with furniture designed by Hans Wegner and Herman Miller,” says the homeowner, who, with his wife, has also amassed an impressive collection of midcentury prints and sculpture. Custom cabinetry and closets were made in Italy to avoid the clutter created by dressers and other freestanding furniture. Likewise, the lighting scheme relies on built-in fixtures as opposed to a throng of standing and table lamps. “They stick up too much, obstructing the view,” says the homeowner, who made a concession for the two so-slender-they’re-nearly-invisible lamps in the living room. But he was adamant about not building a garage, opting for an attractive, slat-walled carport, based on the suspicion that a closed-off space encourages the hoarding of too much stuff (he’s not wrong).

“They have great taste,” says architect Yao about the owners of that rare house whose design was entirely informed by their finely honed modern aesthetic and the land, sky and trees around it. A house that, you could say, raises the bar on what it means to live at one with nature.

A version of this article appeared in the March 2019 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Raising the Bar.

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Christian Rae Studio
Christian Rae Studio, LLC is a multi-disciplinary design firm located in Southport, CT. Since 2010, we have delivered projects representing a broad range of type, scale, and budget considerations. Our combined technical and creative skills enable us to complete each design challenge from conception to final installation. The collaboration between architecture, interiors and lighting design is an approach that results in a holistic and integrated project that is thoughtfully tailored to each site and client.


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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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Jason Thomas Architects
Jason Thomas has a commitment to craft and detail, aesthetics with function, with personal service in the office and in the field which allows for the construction of our client's projects to exceed their expectations within the constraints of limited budgets, complex sites, and technological limitations. Jason leans strongly toward innovation in his architecture and implementation of custom design and detailing.

Jason Thomas Architect

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Haver and Skolnick Architects
Haver & Skolnick Architects creates award-winning homes of timeless design, providing personal service & impeccable attention to detail. For 22 years, Charles Haver, AIA and Stewart Skolnick, AIA have offered a single source for architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, creating seamless environments which are a reflection of their clients’ personalities. The firm has been nationally recognized for comfortable, classic country homes and elegant apartments which reflect history while responding to a contemporary lifestyle.


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Davenport Contracting
The team at Davenport Contracting has over 35 years of experience building and renovating homes. Our business model has always been based on building/renovating for a specific customer. A collaborative environment includes the client, architect, interior designer and Davenport crew. Davenport maneuvers effortlessly between custom homes, smaller renovations and property management. The team’s project management skills transfer seamlessly and the goal is to deliver your vision!


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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.

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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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