Tradition Meets Edge in a Connecticut Country Home Designed by Greg Tankersley
“I always assume a pair of clients comes to us on the same page,” says Greg Tankersley, partner in the Manhattan office of architecture and interiors firm McAlpine. “But this particular one came with two very different requirements.” Tankersley refers to a Manhattan couple who agreed that they wanted a country house, but location was about the only thing they saw eye to eye on. “She is very much a Manhattan gal and wanted something edgy,” says Tankersley. “He, on the other hand, wanted a traditional white Connecticut house.”
Once they settled on a piece of property—an internal parcel with no street frontage and surrounded by a natural preserve on one side—Tankersley, who has worked with the clients before, came to the conclusion that it needed to look like it belonged to Connecticut. The exterior is simple, a wood-clad farmhouse: “I don’t like to do houses that look like they dropped from another planet,” he says. “I wanted to create something that was dressed in the Connecticut vernacular. I knew it was going to get its cool edge once we got to the interior.”
Tankersley worked in collaboration with NYC interior designer Carol Egan to meld the wife’s edge with the husband’s traditional viewpoint. Inside, the ceilings of the main space are clad in ravaged, rustic reclaimed barn siding. Wide-plank oak flooring with a raw finish covers the floors. The walls are simple: unadorned by crown or any traditional detail and plastered with a subtle technique that adds a soapy wax finish. “It was enough rustic to please her husband but used in a cool way to match her aesthetic,” says Tankersley. “I knew the furniture was going to be pretty modern. I didn’t want to create a refrigerator of a house—too chilly with modern furniture. Knowing furniture would be fairly severe, I wanted to have warmth to it.”
In the spacious open kitchen, the clients’ opposing styles could have been a disaster, but Egan was able to balance contemporary with warmth by cleverly combining an unexpected mix of materials. She found a wormy chestnut that she specified to be bleached and applied as cabinetry. Soapstone countertops have a waterfall edge, while a pair of white islands are topped with more traditional white marble.
“A lot of different materials can be tricky, but nothing is fighting here,” says Egan. “The kitchen glows and is serene. It’s designed to live how they live. It wants to be elegant but also relaxed.” Throughout, the interiors echo this sentiment as nothing is too formal, and a disparate mix of furniture looks cohesive thanks to clean lines and natural textures. One side of the great room holds a large antique money table with inset leather-paneled compartments surrounded by hand-carved-oak, three-legged midcentury chairs and a pair of Swedish armchairs covered in putty-colored Rogers & Goffigon leather. An oversized spider chandelier hangs from the barnwood ceiling. On the opposite end, Egan’s ability to mix contemporary with warmth and pizzazz is evident in her attention to detail: A custom sofa sits on round oak legs inset with suede caps, while the facing armchairs have polished nickel sabots. Leather trims yellow pillows, and a coffee table has subtle shine with a bronzed smoked glass top. “It’s a mix of Scandinavian, midcentury, European and contemporary pieces, but each piece is minimal, so that it keeps it very chic and simple,” says Egan.
“It’s quite interesting,” she adds, “our firms are so different and the clients so diverse as well, but this was truly a collaborative and a team effort. It was really a joyful experience, which is rare. Everyone wanted every detail to be perfect, and we got close to it.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 2017 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Dual Personality.