Monday, September 26, 2011


When my mother, Nancy Marcantonio, an interior designer living and working in Southport, Connecticut of NHM Interiors, wanted to build her own home, she turned to the Classical American architecture firm of Fairfax and Sammons, a New York and Palm Beach-based husband and wife team who design homes in the classical style with a nod to the needs of how we live today.

My mother has, over the years of working in design, developed a passion for Jeffersonian architecture and Georgian antiques. When the opportunity arose to design her own home, she took the time and did her research to find the right person to execute her vision. It became a wonderful journey. Her priorities included just six requests made to Richard: the living room must be central to the house and should be designed for living in. All the major rooms must have access to the garden; the master bedroom should be on the ground floor; the dining room must be an octagon (a pure bow to Jefferson), and the house should have a walled and private garden. And finally, the garages should not be seen when observing the facade or the garden (they were finally placed entirely underneath the house). For the exterior, a walled garden was designed with a 10 foot high battered wall, which, for the uninitiated means that, as in the old days, no mortar was used.

The creative dialog between architect and interior designer was alive and well from foundation to roof line, where proportion and symmetry were the key elements. Jeffersonian concepts and modern day living were fused, and it was a learning process for me, as I was privy to much of the process. From visiting the job site, to spending time with the amazingly knowledgeable Anne and Richard, to reading the exquisite hand-drawn plans and observing the various phases of construction, the house became a project my sister, Amanda Reynal, an interior designer with her firm Reynal Interiors, and I were a part of. The home took 6 months to plan and design on paper, and 18 months to build. The comfortable scale found at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Edgemont, a house my mother had discovered before her project began -- was inspiration. For materials, clapboard and flat board with wood quoining made the home look like a Jeffersonian house, built in wood not brick, to work within the Connecticut vernacular. The house turned out to be everything my mother had hoped for and more.

Fairfax and Sammons drawings define precise scale and symmetry. The layout and roof line of Lillifields was based loosely on Villa Malcontenta by Palladio.

The back of the house faces the road and sits behind a 10 foot battered wall, to keep the entrance private. The design for the garden is Italianate and rather more formal than the traditional English cottage garden. The house is turned around and the sunken garden creates privacy. The bay windows that flank the loggia have a 1930's Swedish classical feel.

In keeping with a New England vernacular, Lillifields is constructed of clapboard and wooden quoins. The steep roof functions well to throw off the snow of a New England winter. Tall chimneys give the house a strong presence.

The entry foyer with spiraling staircase flanked by columns define the rectangular space.

The living room is defined by an entablature, a cornice with medillions identical to the cornices on the exterior of the house, here rising to a barrel vaulted ceiling of 22 feet in height.

The octagonal dining room/library, a Jefferson favorite, is defined by a round dining table.

The kitchen with breakfast room and garden beyond, create a pastoral view. My mom wanted a chef's kitchen with tons of counter space and storage.

Elegant cabinetry and sky blue marble defined the master bath with classical detailing and made good use of the space.

A soaking tub was set in below floor level and the shower and water closet flanked the tub behind closed mirrored doors.

The loggia with barrel vaulted ceiling painted sky blue reflects light by diffusing it. The herringbone patterned brick of Boston Pavers provide an aged patina.


*The Beautiful Life* said...

This is your mom's home? OH. MY. I think I've seen this home before... in a dream!! :) Soooo classically elegant and yet so welcoming and livable.

Thank you for sharing it with us!! You're a lucky gal to have this place to go home to visit! :)


Victoria said...

What an absolutely fabulous home. Your mother and the architects carefully thought out every detail. Perfection. I hope this home is still in your family. Thanks for sharing.

MJH Design Arts said...

Congratulations to your Mom on a beautifully classical styled home--it is gorgeous.

The Peak of Chic said...

LOVE it!!! Gorgeous home, amazing architecture, and stunning interiors. You should organize a tour so that we can see it in person! ;)

Stylebeat/Marisa said...

Ruth you are so sweet- my mom will love reading these! Jennifer that is such a fun idea- there are so many great things in CT too- I still cannot believe I have not been to the Glass House in New Canaan.

Fishtail Cottage said...

wow - this is fabulously gorgeous! every photo i had to slowly scroll through - it's beautiful!

A+S / Tilton Fenwick said...

Absolutely gorgeous.
And we love that westieeee!!!

Carl said...

What an impressive space. I am an architectural nerd and used to spend my allowance on AD magazine so this post and home really speaks to me. The openness of the living room is really inspiring and the movement and space around the stairs is as well. But I have to say the tub space is special in its scale and airiness and the pup lounging in its bed steals the show ! Mom should be very happy and proud indeed. ~best

FLAIR for Design said...

Bellissimo! Love the Italian villa and how your home relates so beautifully. I hope you have that etching framed and hanging in your apt!

Ridgely's Radar said...

This is fabulous! Beautifully decorated!

Anne Fairfax said...

Thank you for posting this Marisa! We loved working with your mom (Nancy), she is so creative and enthusiastic, and of course her decorating is so beautiful. We were all hand in glove, the design process was seamless....
Anne Fairfax & Richard Sammons

Marisa/Stylebeat said...

Thank you Anne, I will share this with my mom!
Ridgely- that is such a great compliment!

penelopebianchi said...

Omigoodness! An exquisite house! I would love to see a larger size floor plan.......I am going blind trying with a magnifying glass! Ideal!

Beyond lovely! And I just read about this architecture team on another fantastic blog!

Thank you!