It was the land that particularly appealed to the couple as they looked for a home in Greenwich in 1995. “Many of the properties we’d seen looking around were heavily wooded, rocky, not user friendly. This was special—flat, high and dry, with abundant sunlight, a great open space with a sense of privacy,” they recall. For many years, the 5.3 acre-site on Barnstable Lane had served as a practice facility for the U.S. Equestrian Team.
The two-story residence also offered an interesting challenge; the U-shaped structure erected in 1900 housed stables and the team trophy room in the center, and had been partially converted to living space, with a row of stables remaining. The couple decided to accept the challenge to renovate the entire space into what is now a five-bedroom, 5,800-square-foot home that is elegant and gracious, yet retains elements of its original construction, most notably the walnut-paneled and beamed ceiling trophy room with wood-burning stone fireplace, used as the dining room, and the exterior stall doors on one wing, which are backed by insulated doors. Additionally, because of its prior life, doors and windows are abundant along the courtyard walls.
When purchased, only the house and the 3-car garage with room over it remained; the original barn and other outbuildings had been removed, and the property itself had a more rustic look.
Today, the grounds are manicured. A tall privet hedge shields the house from the three-car garage and the studio/office constructed several years ago, with large parking area in between. An opening in the hedge puts one onto the pathway to the house, which goes through a formal English garden with crushed stone paths. (The driveway divides shortly after entering the property, so parking is also available adjacent to the house.)
The entry floor is limestone, as is the gallery hall leading to dining room and the 24×35-foot great room with fireplace, coffered ceiling and three-exposure views through floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors. There is a wall pass-through into the welcoming country kitchen, which has both counter and banquette seating and a cutting garden for herbs and flowers just outside a door.
Viewed from the rear, the structure’s original use is more evident, including the decorative ladders reaching past windows, which openings once enabled hay bales to pass through.
The ground floor master bedroom suite is in the other wing, which also includes his and her offices with numerous built-ins, the exercise room and family room, which was enlarged by removing half the wall between it and a former garage, creating a game room space perfect for a pool or ping pong table. There is also a room set up as a cabana for the swimming pool, but could be another guest or live-in room. A bluestone path leads to the pool, accented with seating area with a pergola at the far end. And while there is an additional patio area of the same material, the pool surround is primarily lush lawn.
The heavily carved newel post on the staircase leading upstairs is particularly attractive; the architectural element was acquired at United House Wrecking in Stamford during renovation. The staircase leads to the former loft areas. The couple had three children, two boys and a girl, and one wing was converted to bedrooms. The sons each had their own room with a shared bathroom. The daughter’s room has a long hallway linked by closets that leads to another sleeping area, perhaps for a nanny, but later used for a playroom.
Several years ago a studio building with loft was constructed on the foundation of a long-gone barn that serves as the husband’s office and additional garage space for cars, motorcycles, surfboards and other things he finds of interest. It is opposite a three-car garage with a room over it. That space has been renovated into a Modern-style guest house, “which easily enables out-of-town guests to stay for a while without us getting into each other’s way.”
Asked what they enjoyed most about living in the house, or if there were any surprises, the couple noted “how well the trophy room serves as a dining room, and how little we needed to do there. Things are basically as they were originally constructed. The prior owners used it as a den, but we’ve had some great parties in that room.” A door on the wall opposite the fireplace opens onto the courtyard between the wings. When decorating, the owners got into the spirit of the space with animal skin-print fabrics on the chairs and animal-based artwork on the wall.
They also found the home to be well-located, “close to schools, shopping, restaurants and the train station, but far enough away to feel private.”
As for surprises, the husband responded, “The well…the water pressure is fabulous. When you have a property that supports as many as 40 horses and that staff that goes with it, it has to pump pretty well… we get 40-50 gallons per minute, which is enough to fill our pool.”
When decorating, the couple sought to create a livable, fun house that is very comfortable; the feeling is quite welcoming.
But having joined the growing crowd of baby boomer empty nesters, they have decided it is time for another family to own the home. For information about this property, please contact Robin Kencel of The Stevens Kencel [email protected] Elliman Real Estate at 203-249-2943 or [email protected].
Julien Jarry photos in slideshow below