Arts & Crafts Class
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By opening the second-floor hall to the loft, Fioretti made a potentially cavernous area feel welcoming and bright. “This open plan was created by a structural hip-roof design that eliminated the need for any internal walls,” he says. “It allows uninterrupted views across the space, and with the placement of symmetrical windows in the shed dormers on all four sides and a stairway that opens to the second-floor hall, the light is generous and consistent.”
He muses about how this “away space” might be used: “I’ve often imagined this loft area as a perfect studio setting for an aspiring artist (which I believe to be in all of us). With great views of the surrounding neighborhood and the grounds below, it provides a tranquil separation from the main living areas. This area would definitely be my oasis.”
With its three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, the house would seem to be a natural for a family, but as it happens, a widower fell for the place. The gentleman who lives here (with his friendly Boston terrier) had lived in a large home in Greenwich for many years when, after his wife’s passing, he decided to downsize. He was immediately taken with the Craftsman flavor of the home, and as a devotee of Frank Lloyd Wright, set his mind to bringing it even closer to Wright’s vision.
He made some changes under the roof—switching out the paint color throughout the house with the palest of grays, a shade called “Calm.” “I wanted the house to feel calm, inside and out,” he says. With an eye for texture (he was a chief executive in the textile industry), he has furnished his rooms simply and uniformly, with high-quality fabrics and antique furniture. Neutral tones serve as a backdrop for the treasures that he and his wife collected during the years when his work took them around the globe.
He uses the third bedroom as an office and has found his own use for the attic loft. The fit retiree keeps his exercise equipment up there, where he works out every day.
But mostly, the homeowner’s influence is felt outdoors. “When I moved in, there was nothing but a mound of dirt in the back yard. I had this idea of how the yard could look, so I designed it according to the style of Frank Lloyd Wright,” he explains. He created purposeful outdoor spaces, all the while keeping the landscape simple and functional. The design is modular, orderly, neutral and fetching—from the street-side wall, through the courtyard entry, down the pleasant path of paving stones that runs front-to-back alongside the house.
The back yard is a compact paradise . . . from patio to garden beds, to the area where air-conditioning units are hidden beyond pristine white fences. Even the lattice on the porch had to conform; “It was laid in diagonal pieces, but Wright never would have done it that way, so I changed it,” he says. It’s all at right angles now.
He didn’t want a lawn—and made sure of it by driving the landscape design himself. The gardens, brimming with a pleasing palette of pure white blooms, is lovingly tended. “I like to garden—I find it relaxing to come out here in the morning and weed,” he says. The gentle sound of falling water in a stone fountain, a French reproduction called “Auberge,” nestled in the rear stone wall makes the yard feel even more like a sanctuary.
This is a home filled with surprises packed tightly into a small—albeit elegantly lined—envelope. Architect and homeowner both are pleased with the result, though Fioretti wishes he might have done more. For instance, in the garden room he would have liked to incorporate a built-in bench with table niche; and on the sundeck at one end of the second-floor hall, he envisioned an adjustable pipe-and-tensile structure to provide shade from the sun—“a great place to lounge.”
“Those who know me know that I am all about the refined bits and pieces of the design,” he says. “So I would have loved the opportunity to design more of the interior and exterior details. After all, the details are the icing on a true Arts & Crafts home.”
The Washburn Award
The Alice Washburn Award is named for the distinguished Connecticut residential architect of the 1920s. The annual award program is a joint effort of the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects and Connecticut Magazine to acknowledge excellence in traditional house design. Focusing on style, it honors the thoughtful adaptation of tradition to address 21st-century needs. The competition is open to architects licensed and residing in Connecticut; projects had to be one- or two-story houses completed after March 1, 2006 and designed in a style considered traditional—including but not limited to Shingle, Georgian, Queen Anne, Gothic, Colonial and Greek Revival. The three jurors chosen by AIA Connecticut for their expertise in traditional design were: Mary Dorsey Brewster, AIA, principal, Brewster Thornton Group Architects LLP, Providence, R.I..; Jan Degenshein, AIA, principal, Degenshein Architects, Nyack, N.Y.; and Jack Glassman, director of historic preservation, Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype Inc., Boston, Mass.