In this week’s edition of Design Hunting, Wendy Goodman tours the gorgeous Litchfield County, Connecticut, summer homes of Matthew Patrick Smyth, Michael Leva, Florence de Dampierre, and Tim Street-Porter and Annie Kelly — but not before stopping by artist Missy Cusick’s Hell’s Kitchen studio and checking out Chelsea’s newest design store, Michael Hennessy Home.
But First, a Special Invitation ...
Ruth Ansel is one of the greatest art directors and graphic designers of all time, having worked with Harper’s Bazaar in the sixties, The New York Times Magazine in the seventies, and Vanity Fair in the eighties. Oyster Press is publishing a book of her work, Hall of Femmes: Ruth Ansel, by Hjärta Smärta; the launch party and signing is slated for June 17.
Missy Cusick is an artist living and working in Hell’s Kitchen. I visited her studio to see her latest pieces, namely small abstract and landscape paintings. They work as stand-alone jewels, but could also be collected to create a larger composition. You can purchase her work at Domus.
Michael Hennessy Home
This loftlike shop opened a little over a month ago in Chelsea. Hennessy makes much of the furniture himself.
From Wood Shop to Store Floor
Hennessy created this versatile piece, which can be used as a side table, dining table, or desk.
An Abstract Trio
The chair, table, and ottoman are all by Jeff Muhs.
An Enviable View
Here I am at the Sharon, Connecticut, home of designer Matthew Patrick Smyth and writer Jean Vallier, who has just finished penning the second volume of a two-part biography on Marguerite Duras (due in Paris this September). Matthew, who has an unerring eye for elegance and practicality, renovated their nineteenth-century house. A stone bust of George Washington sits in the garden.
The Semicircular Writing Desk
It was a challenge to fit a writing desk in the compact library; this was a clever solution.
An Ideal Reading Nest
Matthew added an alcove bed to the library, perfect for curling up and reading the day away.
The Summer Room
This cozy seating area, located off the kitchen, overlooks the garden.
A Room at the Top of the Stairs
The wide-planked floors are painted black, which gives the landing the illusion of floating in space.
Tim Street-Porter and Annie Kelly’s Connecticut Home
The photographer and writer/interior designer found this sweet Colonial house in Litchfield; it just so happened to be perfectly restored by its previous owners. The house dates from 1740 and the decorating is pitch-perfect. It looks miniature but is actually quite spacious inside.
Annie and Tim take a break from their busy writing, designing, and shooting schedules. Their most recent collaboration, Rooms to Inspire in the Country, has just been published by Rizzoli.
An Updated Parlor
“We love the character of the house and tried to furnish it in the spirit of its age,” says Annie. Not so easy in colonial-size rooms, which can feel pinched if overdone.
A Labor of Love
It may look like wallpaper, but Tim actually painted the stripes on the walls in Annie’s office.
The Writing Room
I love to snoop in people’s offices (actually, I love to snoop everywhere). It's fascinating to see how everyone works — and Annie’s desk is quite tiny considering how much work she does there.
The Life of a Luna Moth
This is not a decoration; I spotted this exquisite Luna moth planted on Tim and Annie’s garage. Poor thing never moved in all the time I was there. Did you know that Luna moths do not have mouths and that they only live two weeks before starving to death?
Here I am about to have lunch at designer and writer Florence de Dampierre’s pool house in Litchfield. Florence and her family have an incredible garden (along with everything else). Her sandals even matched the neon-orange goldfish decorating the table.
A Green Spread
The summer table setting includes rubber fish and fresh linen.
The Pool House Kitchen
Florence has a wonderful green thumb. The kitchen table is the holding area for indoor and outdoor plants.
Beware of entering Privet House in Warren, Connecticut, if you want to hold on to your purse. This gorgeous home-design store is deliciously curated by Richard Lambertson and his business partner, Suzanne Cassano, and there isn’t one thing here I don’t want.
Home Goods at Privet House
The displays are inviting. I was first drawn to the painted wood table and then started to explore all of the different ceramics on top of and around it.
Pristine out-of-print books
I always leave Privet House having bought too many books — my weakness.
These are also hard to resist, and make perfect gifts when you’re not collecting them for your own kitchen.
A Ceramic Collector’s Dream
Privet House constantly turns over its ceramics selection.
One Door Down ...
Privet House's neighboring design store, VOL. 1 Antiques, is curated by Suzanne Cassano. The vibe is both classic and modern.
Case in point: this unusual lamp.
VOL. 1 is always filled with decorative surprises, like these alabaster-colored logs, lamp bases, and vases.
Michael Leva’s Colonial House
The fashion designer’s 1765 saltbox in Roxbury, Connecticut, boasts an amazing view of the Litchfield hills.
A Chef’s Kitchen
The house was beautifully restored when Michael bought it, but he describes the original paint colors as "colonial home" colors — which to me meant drab and sad. Not anymore! Michael whitewashed the interior’s beams to mimic a Scandinavian country house. And this is the heavenly kitchen where he wrote his cookbook, Recipes for Parties. I could be inspired to cook here.
The Original Latch Doors
Michael whitewashed these as well.
The Dining Room Fireplace
Michael is a master at editing.
The Guest Bathroom
I love the black tiles, which make the space feel anything but dark.
The Perfect Summer Bedroom
The guestroom is totally exquisite — what a room away from home should be.
Everywhere I looked, Michael’s eye for the perfect detail was so satisfying.
A Shocking Lamp
In the living room, Michael filled a glass vase with colored water to create a strong visual effect.
The White Hart Inn
And finally, I visited the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, Connecticut, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner on the porch. The inn has been flawlessly renovated by Matthew Patrick Smyth, and it’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway.
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