A Home Off Connecticut's Coast Honors Its “Summer Camp” Roots



On their honeymoon, this couple discovered the Thimble Islands, an archipelago of 28 keys in Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut and fell in love with the place.

A few years later, when they had saved enough money, they bought a house on an eight-acre expanse of land. For two decades they used the turn-of-the-century house as a summer camp with minimal plumbing and a generator to supply electricity, enjoying the open views of the water on all sides. Finally, their finances allowed them to upgrade, but it wasn’t an easy project. All the cables needed to electrify, heat, and air condition the house had to be laid under the water. The furniture was delivered on barges. For the interiors, I used some of their existing wicker furniture, which we added to with more examples from the same era. We also sought out new and antique pieces that wouldn’t lose the “summer camp” quality of the decor they had grown to feel comfortable with. I had the sofa slipcovered in sturdy cotton mattress ticking and, for an accent, covered the pillows in chintz.

Jennifer Hakker-Thompson of Applied Aesthetics, my long-time collaborator, painted the walls throughout the house in a glazed celadon stripe, which continued as a ceiling border in a Greek key pattern. We collected English Transferware, choosing different patterns of the figured china in the same color tones, as it was easy to find, and a nice way to create interesting table settings without establishing a formality that would have fought with the relaxed feeling of the house.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2018 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Island Living.

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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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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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