“This has been the perfect home for us; we love living here,” said the owner of a late 1700s house in New Canaan. While living in London in the late 1980s, Claudia and Mark resided in a neighborhood of antique homes and came to appreciate them. Upon return to the states, they bought their first antique and moved into their current residence, “the oldest,” in 2002. “It was in nice shape and had been added onto; it’s the favorite house we’ve ever lived in. We’ve done some updating, particularly in the kitchen, reroofing, painting and gutted and rebuilt the master bathroom. Other than that we’ve just been able to enjoy it,” said Claudia.
The 2,500-square-foot home is a blend of the old—hand-hewn exposed beam ceilings, wide plank chestnut floors, wrought iron hardware, two Dutch doors—with today’s amenities.
The original house comprised a spacious—32 feet, 8 inches by 16 feet, 4 four inches—keeping room (now the living room and dining area) with massive stone fireplace with beehive oven and large wooden mantel, two parlors with a small entryway in between and the upstairs, today two bedrooms and a full bath. A ground level master bedroom featuring a beamed cathedral ceiling, windows on three sides and a center fireplace with delft tiles in the surround was added to one end of the house. A doorway right outside the bedroom door leads to the outside and a stone patio, which is accented on one end by the exterior stone wall of the bedroom. The renovated master bath has an oversized shower, Jacuzzi tub and two sinks.
An entryway and combined family room and kitchen were added to the other end of the house, centering the original portion. It too has windows on three sides, including wall doors facing the backyard, as well as skylights and a trio of exposed beams.
The parlors today serve as a study, with a corner cupboard, and library/office and each has a fireplace, which shares a center chimney with the living room fireplace, which retains the original kettle holder. The front door is rarely used, as the newer side entry is much more convenient from the driveway and close-by two-car garage, but the original granite steps remain.
Claudia notes that while the updated kitchen is of galley style with counter seating, “the storage is incredible for a space not that big,” pointing to the upper and lower wall cupboards, the storage area under the large counter and the full-height cabinets that span the rear wall of the family room, near the eating area.
The prior owners had added a small room on the patio off the living room, which was set up as a potting shed. Mark determined that by adding some storage shelving and a stand-in-place air conditioner, the room would make a perfect, and convenient, wine “cellar.”
The exterior cedar shakes were “the color of black coffee” when the couple purchased the home, and to lighten it up, and give it more of a Cape Cod look, the shakes were twice treated with bleaching oil, which turned them “a beautiful natural white gray,” and helps the home stand out amid the heavily green front landscaping.
The almost 2.5-acre property is bordered on one side by a stone wall, and is relatively flat, and could easily accommodate a swimming pool or tennis court if desired; it also features a number of stately old trees. “It’s like living in our own private park,” Claudia said. “It’s a gift to have been here this long.”
There were six “ancient” apple trees when the couple moved in, but only one remains, and it is “giving up the ghost,” losing a large bough this year. A trio of “very old” cherry trees is situated at the opposite side of the property, near the converted carriage house. They are infertile, Claudia notes, and while they may not bear fruit, “in the spring they bloom a pink cloud that gets whiter and whiter until the wind blows the blooms away; it is exceptionally beautiful.”
A large border garden adds color to the yard from April through the end of October, by which time the multitude of trees start have started showing their fall colors, including a row of maples along the stone wall side of the yard that turn a bright golden yellow. A small gazebo adds a nice touch to the garden.
The 866-square-foot converted carriage house has multiple uses, including a potting shed on one end, an unheated storage area, and a living space with fireplace that can serve as a guest house, home office or, as in Claudia’s case, an artist’s studio. “Michael Douglas’s brother owned the property in the 1960s, and he kitted it out as a living space with stone fireplace, bedroom and full bath, and used the main room for film editing.” It was subsequently winterized and now usable year-round.
But as the seasons turn, the home is available to someone else through Houlihan Lawrence. For information, contact Kathy Tanner at 203-856-6265 or [email protected]