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A New Direction

Realigning Spaces to Match a Changing Lifestyle

It all stated with a yoga studio. “The homeowner was interested in freshening her home through new furnishings,” says Tracy Schneider of Tracy Schneider Design. “And she wanted to convert a space that her late husband had used to house a train collection into a yoga studio large enough to have classes with her yoga teacher and her friends.” Referred to Schneider by Barbara Wells of Prudential CT Greenwich, the homeowner got that and a lot more... Read more ∨

Natural light and existing wood detailing brought serenity to the yoga studio, where carpeting was removed and wood flooring installed. “But the walls were painted forest green,” says Schneider. “After my client showed me a pastel drawing she uses to keep her focus while doing yoga, I knew I needed to match the undertone of the trees, which is a springtime sage. We added a glaze on one wall for wall-specific exercises, which can leave marks on standard painted wall.”

While working on the studio, “whenever I went to the home, I noticed that the layout needed work,” says Schneider. “The living room had too many sitting areas, and the kitchen felt closed in.” Plus, just inside the front door, an L-shaped wall and sliders made the foyer seem dark and dated. “I showed her some sketches that would help improve the spirit and value of the house, creating a nice visual as soon as one entered.” By replacing the sliders with windows, adding prefinished wood floors over the existing terracotta tile, the foyer instantly became lighter, brighter and more welcoming.

Faced with a narrow span of space in the kitchen, Schneider moved the walls back and added a steel support column. A wall with a reach-through was replaced with a breakfast bar, which opened the views from the kitchen out to the yard.

Another challenge involved relocating the dining room from the other side of the house. By using a millwork half-wall to divide the living room, the designer created a centrally located dining room, while simultaneously resolving those confusing sitting areas. “I designed a millwork to divide the two spaces, but also to allow the natural light to flow through from the dining room windows and skylights to the living room,” says Schneider. “We also removed large cherry cabinets from the living room – they were fighting for attention with the fireplace – to other locations in the home.” Built-ins compensate for the lost storage space.

What started as a one-room redesign and decorating project evolved into a successful renovation. “I loved opening up the space and making it more light and airy. Now it all makes architectural sense,” notes Schneider. “By focusing on the details, we really made it sing.”

by Catriona Branca.

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Minimalism Meets Luxury

When it came to the kitchen in the total renovation of Melani and Randy Nardone’s home, this Greenwich couple knew just what they wanted – and also what they didn’t want. “We’re not roosters-in-the-kitchen, curvy-edged kind of people,” says Melani (pronounced Me-lah-nee), a former artist who lent her style and skill to the home’s overall redesign. The Nardones wanted a kitchen that would complement the revamped residence, which is now a light-filled gallery for living, with loft-like spaces, 9-foot ceilings and soft, off-white walls... Read more ∨

Dividing their time between the backcountry and the city, they not only brought their Manhattan sensibilities to bear in the design, but also their taste for stone and metal, which figure prominently throughout the house. Melani and Randy wanted the same modernist simplicity in the kitchen, all the while maintaining consummate utility. She likes to cook; he likes to bake.

At the prompting of their interior designer, Tracy Schneider, they went to Poggenpohl Kitchens in Westport, a company known for its upscale, cutting-edge designs.

The finished Nardone kitchen is strikingly minimalist, yet provides every luxury a chef could want: a six-burner Wolf stove and oven, a Wolf wall oven, two Kitchenaid dishwashers, and a SubZero refrigerator/freezer. For even more convenience, Melani requested a pot faucet over the stove. “I didn’t want to have to carry heavy pots when making spaghetti,” she says.

Melani also wanted a clear view of the backyard so she could watch her daughter play. So designers created a virtual half-wall of windows over the sink. These are not just any windows, not even merely high-end ones. The Tischler Und Son casement windows that are used throughout the house “will do everything but jump down, sing and dance,” says Melani, demonstrating the various ways they open for airflow, cleaning, and removal.

And then, of course, there’s what could be called the Porsche of cabinetry. All cabinets are custom-assembled in Germany, precision engineered to make them sleek, innovative and user-friendly, and loaded with extra features. Upper cabinets are stacked to maximize space – a special Poggenpohl feature – and the doors swing ceiling-ward on hydraulic hinges to keep them out of the way. “They’re aerodynamic,” says Melani. Satin glass in the doors allows interior lights to glow through.

Tracy calls European cabinets more ergonomic than the American design. “You’re not bending or stretching so much, so it’s easier on the body. And when [you] push up the garage door-type of cabinet, you have complete visibility and access to the items inside.”

The cabinets have an aluminum veneer, and according to the store’s showroom manager, Frank Sardo, the metal has become more popular in Europe than even stainless steel. “It’s lightweight, resilient, and easier to clean,” he explains.

Counters are topped with stainless steel and the island with basaltina. Below the counters, drawers self-close pneumatically and have inserts throughout to better organize their contents. The kitchen also contains the Poggenpohl recessed backsplash system for hanging extra shelves or utensils.

To counter the coolness of the metals and gray stone, Tracy suggested a Hauteville honed-limestone floor, which reflects back warmth and light. The light fixtures were also her idea. “I’m always on the lookout for something new and different,” she says, referring to the Santa & Cole pendant lights over the island. These fixtures, each with a stationary and a retracting stem, are magnetized, which allow them to be moved horizontally, as well as vertically, over their base. “This is the first set in the United States,” she says.

The Nardones are so pleased with how their new kitchen turned out that they chose a Poggenpohl kitchen for their Manhattan condo as well.

“After all the renovations we’ve done, you know what you like and what you want to live with,” says Melani. Even if a Poggenpohl kitchen had not been an option the condo builders offered us, “we would have found a way to install one anyway.”

All About the House magazine., by Karen B. Wittwer.

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