Home Glass brand State-of-the-art New Canaan home embraces natural surroundings

State-of-the-art New Canaan home embraces natural surroundings


After living for 12 years in a contemporary home near Long Island Sound in Norwalk, marketers Nada and Avery Stirratt decided it was time for a change. This time around, they wanted more land, even if it meant not being near water.

“We were drawn to New Canaan, in part because of its Modernist roots,” says Nada Stirratt, who found a home at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac on more than 3 acres. “It was a perfect location for us as we were both heading into town and at the end of a hectic day we instantly feel serene when we pull into the driveway.”

Like their previous home, their new ranch home had a contemporary feel, but it lacked a truly modern aesthetic. It was a typical construction with standard windows, and when they thought about living there, they envisioned a lot more openness to the environment.

Glass walls are everywhere, which means the greenery is always within sight.

elizabeth felicella photography / contributed photo

“It was originally built in the 1950s and was added in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, so it lost any sort of architectural identity,” says Stirratt. “What we wanted was as much glass as structurally possible to take in the beauty of the woods in each room.”

The Stirratts realized that what they thought could be salvaged from the old house made no sense from both a structural engineering standpoint and an aesthetic one. For example, in some areas the foundation did not go deep enough and in others the wall thickness was not up to code. In the end, it was more economical to tear it down and rebuild it.

Stirratt and her husband interviewed six architects before choosing Specht Architects (then called Specht Harpman), which has offices in New York and Austin and specializes in designing modern homes. “The original project was to take a look at this house and make a few adjustments here and there to make it more modern and functional for them,” says Scott Specht, owner of Specht Architects. “Early in the process, after discussing what we could do, we imagined what it would be like if you walked in and saw this brand new kitchen, but immediately walked into an older section and it didn’t flow. “

Specht notes that some houses are easier to renovate than others. You can do some of it in pieces, and there’s a seamless transition between the new and old pieces. But in this case, it only seemed to highlight the flaws in the existing house.

The house is perched on a hill, and Specht says they considered different approaches, but ultimately went with the plan he preferred. It features a long winding road past the house and across to the parking lot at the top of the hill and the entrance on the second level. Alec Gunn and Heather Morgan of New York and the Hamptons-based Gunn Landscape Architecture worked alongside Specht to reposition the driveway to create the ideal outdoor circulation.

A glass-walled workout room allows owners to gaze longingly at the pool while they sweat on the treadmill.

A glass-walled workout room allows owners to gaze longingly at the pool while they sweat on the treadmill.

elizabeth felicella photography / contributed photo

“From the start of their driveway, you’re at the bottom of the house looking at it through the trees,” says Specht. “And what you’re actually looking at is not the entrance, but the back of the house. So, it is cantilevered and hangs above the forest canopy when you look at it. You see it in the distance on a hill with lights on inside and it’s very inviting, but it’s obscured a bit by the forest.

Once inside the main entrance on the second level, a giant wall of windows overlooks the canopy of trees. There’s a feeling of “floating in the treetops,” says Specht, adding that it’s the perfect arrangement to take advantage of seasonal color changes.

Working in the original U-shaped footprint, Specht’s design of the three-bedroom, 4½-bath, 7,000 square foot home placed the main living areas and all bedrooms on the top floor. A secret staircase behind the fireplace leads down to a library, lounge / bar, and work space for Nada and Avery. Outside the downstairs lounge / bar is a large seating area with a fireplace. From there, an external staircase leads directly to the swimming pool and the cabana. A path runs between the interior and the exterior, seamlessly connecting the spaces.

“There are all of these wonderful areas for entertaining,” says Stirratt, who notes that although a swimming pool comes with the original house, it has been rebuilt into a smaller footprint, with a cabana added to mimic the shape of the house. “When we have guests, they go from the bar to the pool to the fireplace. We call the fireplace area the Lower East Side – all parts are found here. “

Talk about open concept - a dining room blends directly into a living room with a floor-to-ceiling fireplace as the centerpiece.  And of course, the trees are never out of sight.  Imagine the colors in October and November.

Talk about open concept – a dining room blends directly into a living room with a floor-to-ceiling fireplace as the centerpiece. And of course, the trees are never out of sight. Imagine the colors in October and November.

elizabeth felicella photography / contributed photo

The interior style of the house matches its modern architecture. The couple chose the husband and wife team of Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller, owners of New York-based Carrier and Company Interiors Ltd., because they knew the owners wanted a home that, while modern, was warm and welcoming. . Stirratt provided them with a stack of filing cabinets dating from a 1993 Metropolitan house magazine with torn sheets of its dreamy interiors, textiles and finishes. “Just about every part of our home can be traced to these bindings,” she says.

The Stirratts also knew where they wanted their kitchen and how it should work. It has been strategically placed in the main living and dining areas, so that when preparing food, it becomes part of the conversations in these spaces. It was also designed so that everything is hidden.

“We love to cook and entertain, and we built the kitchen especially for us,” says Stirratt. “I’m 6 feet tall and my husband is 6 feet 3 inches tall. Our counters are at the right height for us to chop and prepare. And from the point of view of space, because the cabinets go up to the ceiling, which are really high, we have a lot of storage and therefore no clutter on the counters, ”explains Stirratt, who attributes to both Specht and his right arm. , Amy Lopez-Cepero.

“They did a phenomenal job and spent a lot of time with us,” Stirratt says. “The attention to detail has been most impressive working with Scott and Amy. They were surgical in placing things where they made the most sense, which included asking, “What’s the right height if you want to chop onions?” “”