Riley House II

Extensive renovations and additions were undertaken to transform an ordinary spec house, built in 1969, into an eccentric home that would recall the owners’ love affairs with places around the world. At the front of the house, a new garage and garden shed addition join the original, but altered, gambrel-roofed house to summon memories of farm houses in the Cotswolds, England. At the rear, the pale yellow stucco walls of the family and living room additions combine with an extensive flower and vegetable garden – edged by a low stone wall – to enclose an outdoor terrace, which recalls the intimate courtyards and easy outdoor living of Provence and Umbria.

Location Connecticut
Size 5,200 Sq. Ft.
Features addition, renovation
Year Completed 2002
Photo Credit Peter Aaron/Esto
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The interior also evokes a variety of images. The living room’s ochre-stained concrete floor takes on the ruddy colors of the ancient Nabataean stone city of Petra, Jordan. The stucco fireplace, accented with stone inserts and flanked by colorfully tiled house-like niches, captures the Spanish Colonial character of the American Southwest. Horizontally striped columns recollect the flourishes of Siena, Italy and are capped with wooden salad bowls imported from Sierra Leone. Last, an octagonal peristyle, supported by the striped columns, aspires to the Byzantine spatial delights of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. To add to the sense of threshold as one enters the columned living room, the floor steps down and the ceiling rises. Here is a sacred place, the center of the owners’ own universe.

The long dining room, accentuated by its 16-foot-long table, has the pretensions of the chateaux of the Loire Valley in France. The room is framed at the ceiling by rows of mahogany brackets carved in floral motif and supporting a series of wooden beams. The brackets impart a sense of life to the inanimate beams that are at the heart of the Renaissance buildings of Rome and Florence. The stairway to the second floor takes its cues from Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence.

Upstairs, the renovated master bedroom expands into an octagonal work studio. It is the vertical extension of the octagonal peristyle below and commands a panoramic view of the surrounding woods and gardens. Several pieces of the furniture were custom designed by the architect and made for the additions.

PRESS & AWARDS

Awards

  • Special Focus Award, Builder's Choice