A Coastal Connecticut Gem with Sleek, Modern Details



Waterfront Home Patio

With their three grown daughters out of the nest, one coastal Connecticut couple decided it was time to start fresh. They bought a 1970s-era Colonial in a private waterfront community not far from their home of 25 years. Their goal was to build a modern house with an open floor plan and a setting that maximized the view. “My husband was out riding his bike one day and happened upon an open house,” says the wife. “The property was really nice, and we saw the potential to build something special.”

Waterfront Home

The couple hired architect Krist Dodaro and interior designer Marisa Bistany Perkins, who frequently collaborate on residential projects, to bring their dream to life. The biggest challenge was finding a way to satisfy the neighborhood’s design board review process, which calls for a mid 17th-to-18th–century Colonial silhouette, and still give the homeowners the modern look they craved. With this in mind, Dodaro split the difference—the front of the house is more restrained and traditional, while the back of the house incorporates an expansive use of glass to take in the spectacular water views. “We worked hard on the front and the scale of the house,” says Dodaro. “The wings on both sides of the main box step down slightly, the roofs are lower and then lower still on the garage. That helps it have good street manners.”

To meld the two sides together and keep it from being “stylistically disconnected,” the architect kept the exteriors clean and simple. He incorporated classic details such as dormers, gables, a pair of stone chimneys, and “the idea of a crown molding. These elements are deep-seated in our architectural consciousness,” says Dodaro. “They immediately evoke a style we are comfortable with.”

Because of the home’s waterside perch, the wife initially envisioned a predominately sand and beige-hued interior. But she didn’t care for the way the way the beige looked after doing two rooms and instead gravitated toward several gray samples Perkins recommended. From there, the design scheme evolved into an all-gray palette. “To give the rooms dimension and depth, I knew I’d have to layer in a variety of textures and fabrics,” says the designer. She also added interest through strategically placed pops of purple.

In the 20-by-40-foot great room, “the goal was to create a sophisticated and sleek but really inviting space,” Perkins says. A swivel chair’s wooden back and sides are a striking contrast with the textured fabric on its front. A pair of throw pillows on the velvet sofa shimmer with hints of gray and purple. The custom dining table was made by a California artisan and is inlaid with wood and oxidized metals. “When you walk into the room you see the top of the table, and it’s like a piece of art,” says Perkins. Throughout, the stained hardwood floors are softened with plush area rugs. “The client wanted all the rugs to be very cushy underfoot,” notes Perkins. “Every time we went into a carpet store, shoes came off.”

In the kitchen, a metal and tile backsplash has a “cool industrial vibe.” The Christopher Peacock cabinetry sports ostrich-leather wrapped door handles, while the counter stools are covered in faux gray leather and trimmed in black. The metal theme carries over into the first-floor powder room with its hammered-metal sink, faux metal Phillip Jeffries wallpaper and purple ceiling. “It’s one of my favorite rooms I’ve ever done,” says Perkins. “It’s so fun and funky and has a glam Hollywood feeling to it.”

Perhaps the space that speaks most to the home’s swoon-worthy setting is the expansive deck off the great room. Thanks to a pair of nine-feet-wide glass pocket doors, the living area opens to the outdoors seamlessly; an automatic screening system provides protection from the wind and sun, while overhead heat lamps warm the space in the cooler months, creating a true three-season living area. “We feel like we’re on vacation all the time,” says the wife. “We were recently in a villa in the south of Spain, and we said this is no better than our home.” But the best part? “Our daughters love to come visit.” 

A version of this article appeared in the October 2019 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Gray Matters. 

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Architect Spotlight

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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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Architect Spotlight

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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Designer Spotlight

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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Architect Spotlight

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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