Designer Emily Fuhrman’s longtime clients weren’t looking to move from their tree-lined street. However, when they stumbled across a beachfront property just eight miles south on Connecticut’s Gold Coast, they couldn’t resist it.
The catch? They would have to furnish from scratch with an absolutely contemporary aesthetic. “They came from a traditional Colonial and this is open concept,” says Fuhrman, principal of Sage & Ginger Interior Design. “We redecorated their living room in a transitional style a few years ago, so they were headed in a more modern direction, though not this extreme!”
The couple, who have three almost-grown children and two dogs, were committed to embracing the architecture of the free-flowing, 5,789-square-foot home. The only directives they delivered to the designer was that she inject warmth to counterbalance the limestone floors, large windows, and metal stair—and that nothing feel too precious.
Fuhrman devised a scheme of understated furnishings in a neutral palette with pops of color from artwork and plants that doesn’t detract from the view. That said, the pieces are distinct, imbued with subtle nuances that help each one hold its own.
To further train the eye toward the Long Island Sound, Fuhrman painted the dark wood window trim white throughout. “They were stained a different color from the beams and felt too heavy for the beach,” the designer says. “We enhanced the organic details by cleaning them up; it feels fresh now.”
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the light and airy living room. Here, a pair of low-slung, Joseph Jeup sofas upholstered in a Holly Hunt fabric with a soft hand float face-to-face against the ocean backdrop. A cerused oak coffee table anchors the arrangement atop a plush rug with some shine. “The sofas’ channel-tufting and the table’s geometric base make an interesting impression,” Fuhrman says. “We used details like these throughout to add layers of depth and character.”
A colorful diptych by James Verbicky commissioned through Samuel Owen Gallery in Greenwich holds the wall in the adjacent dining room. Rather than re-invent the wheel, the couple purchased the perfectly-sized dining table from the prior owners. Fuhrman added comfortable upholstered chairs with horizontal tufting that ties to the living room sofas. Practicality comes into play underfoot with an indoor/outdoor Stark rug.
A cozy den with a coffered ceiling sits behind a wall of glass with unframed French doors just beyond the dining table. A navy sectional hugs an ottoman with a tufted top create a comfy ensemble for movie time. A swooping swivel chair infuses a touch of whimsy and works well for screenings and conversation.
The kitchen, located on the other side of the living room, needed toning down. Rather than rip it out, Fuhrman painted most of the existing cabinetry as well as the island in Benjamin Moore Silver Stain, then swapped out the island’s busy granite countertop for concrete-like Caesarstone. “Simplifying those things made such a difference,” she says. “We’ll tackle the stone arch over the range later.”
The limestone tile floor runs out to the bow-front deck ideal for cocktails. For casual dining, there’s a Robert James dining table with a stained oak top and tapered, bronzed iron legs. Its elegant lines and refined mix of materials reflect Furhman’s “each piece speaks for itself” approach.
Pale wood planks line the ceiling of the lower level, which Fuhrman outfitted with a giant modular sofa comprised of six gently curved components, and a pair of tables that can be pulled apart to better service either end. There’s also a round work/dining table great for games, plus a trio of built-in desks hiding behind the wooden doors. Floor-to-ceiling sliders stretch across the space for easy access to the patio and pool.
A double L-shaped steel stair with frosted glass treads leads from the foyer to the primary bedroom. A key artwork—a rock and roll-themed photograph from Max Steven Grossman’s “Bookscapes” series that resembles a library niche—is featured along the way. The couple’s bedroom opens to another bow-front deck that looks up and down the Gold Coast and over the Sound to Long Island.
“They found their dream home,” Fuhrman says. “Everything we chose lives up to its beauty.”