Just Add Water


Just Add Water - Robert Couturier


Cross Cultural Upholstered Louis IV dining chairs from Perpitchin Paris surround a custom dining table acquired in England. A pairof 1937 Murano glass lamps lights up the Zuber wallpaper mural.The gilded mirror is 19th-century English. See Resources.Infused with a range of hues, eye-catching interiors emerge from the shadowsBY MINDY PANTIELPHOTOGRAPHS BYKEITH SCOTT MORTON

THE FIRST THING INTERIOR DESIGNERRobert Couturier noticed when he entered the classic 1920s Greenwichcountry estate was the lack of light. “The property had quite a large garden,but everything had grown up over the windows and you couldn’t see outanywhere,” he recalls. “It was very dark, so naturally I wanted to makeeverything clean, clear and light.”That desire quickly translated into a pale blue lacquered ceiling in thehallway and a slightly deeper azure on the living room walls. Besides theobvious sky influence, a suite of Louis IV chairs upholstered in yet anothershade of blue in the dining room also drove the choice of cerulean huesthat dominate the key main floor living spaces. With his usual flourish, therenowned designer fleshed out the formal dining area with an 18th-centuryDutch brass chandelier and a commanding Serge Roche mirrored pedestalfrom the 1940s.The Parisian-born Couturier, who catapulted to the top of the designworld 25 years ago when billionaire James Goldsmith hired him to designhis 60, 000-square-foot Mexico home, is accustomed to a sophisticated,world-class clientele. The refined Austrian and his Kentucky-bred wife whohired him to transform their Connecticut digs with a staggering four-monthturnaround are no exceptions. “When you have well-informed, decisiveclients, you can make decisions quickly and not make mistakes, ” notesSunlit Retreat French doors connect the patio (opposite) to the welcomingsunroom (above) where a pair of 19th-century French marble pedestals supportflower-filled marble vases. The custom sofas sport Manuel Canovas fabrics andthe curtains feature Home Couture fabrics. A classic English wingback chair(right) resting on a Tai Ping rug holds court with a bronze sculpture and acontemporary painting from the homeowner’s collection. See Resources.46 connecticut cottages & gardens 06.2011

Formal Atmosphere Four gilded Louis IV armchairs (above) establish the vibrant living room color scheme. Grand Hallway The designer saved the existing painted wood floor(below left) and added a touch of blue to the barrel-vaulted ceiling. Welcome Home The entrance (below right) pairs a French Maurice Jallot leather and wood commode with aGerman Frei Otto leather side chair. Powder Blue A hand-printed English phoenix-patterned fabric lines the walls in the powder room (opposite), where a traditional console sinkfrom Waterworks stands next to a patterned hand-knotted antique rug. The chandelier is Venetian. See Resources.48

Stepping Up The staircase (this page) gets a jolt of colorfrom antique kilims pieced together to make a runner. SuiteSurrender A pair of Louis XV regilded 18th-century fauteuilsflank the fireplace in the master suite (opposite top). A set ofFrench 1940s sconces hangs above. Son Time A child’s bedroom(opposite bottom) features French (c. 1940) armchairs and a setteeupholstered with Clarence House fabric. See Resources.Couturier, who has done several homes with thecouple, and was unfazed by the tight time frame.“Besides, I prefer the energy maintained fromworking quickly to spending five years on a projectand laboring over every detail,” he says.According to the designer, there was anotheradvantage of working with the same clients over aperiod of years: “Our tastes have evolved together,”he says. “There was a time when he [the husband]would have insisted on everything beingtotally traditional, but his feelings about mixingthings have changed and so have mine,” Couturierexplains. “I like more modern things than I usedto, and have come to realize that mixing gives ahome a modern feel.”To emphasize his point, the designer refers tothe living room, where an antique Oushak rugprovides the backdrop for a rare 1930s GermanErdglobus set upon a 17th-century round Italiantable. Elsewhere in the room, he deftly combinedgilded Louis IV armchairs with a pair of vintage1950s metal and rock crystal lights. Similarly, inthe sunroom, a charming tableaux features a classicEnglish wingback chair paired with a sculptedbronze Buddha, while in the family room anoversized carved African piece holds court with aLouis XIV table and a boldly colored kilim rug.By his own admission, color is almost a vice.“Someday I would like to do a room in beigeand white, but it’s against my nature,” he says.“Besides, clients don’t come to me if they want awhite room; they come to me because they lovecolor.” To jazz up the lackluster grand staircase,Couturier lit the way with an antique brass andbronze chandelier and created a dynamic runnerby piecing together antique kilims. “You go upand down the stairs every day, so it should befun, and color adds such joy,” he says.Saturated shades of red add warmth to thefamily room—“the official entertainment zone,”says Couturier. And when his client requestedan eye-popping coral as backdrop for her tubin the master suite—a hue not seen anywhereelse in the house—the designer didn’t flinch. “Abathroom doesn’t need to relate to the rest of thehouse, because you don’t walk through it to getsomewhere else,” he says.While style was critical, finding furnishingswith the right proportions was also essential.“When you have such large rooms and ceilingsthat are quite tall, proper scale is very important,”he says. “I also chose things that lookedpurposeful. When we were done, I wanted thereto be that feeling that these things had alwaysbeen there.”To see more visit cottages-gardens.com51

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