For nearly two decades, Richard Rosano has built and renovated custom luxury homes across the Northeast and even Florida. Whether a new piece of technology, an innovative design element, or cutting-edge building technique, chances are Rosano and his firm, RRBuilders, have delivered it for their clients.
Of course, working on so many high-end homes makes you long for the best of the best in your own home. “Once I see something on a project, I get the bug,” Rosano says. “Our house has been somewhat of a laboratory allowing me to implement best-of-breed techniques.”
His “laboratory” is a 10,500-square-foot New England, Shingle-style house in New Canaan that is reminiscent in form and spirit of the 19th-century homes in Newport, Rhode Island. The home looks as fresh and functions as well today as it did when it was built in 2007, thanks to Rosano’s attention to timeless design, material landscaping as well as ongoing maintenance and technology updates. Today, the home features a theater, fitness room, gaming space, and oodles of outdoor areas including a pool.
Rosano’s passion for building dates back to his teen years, when he helped his father renovate their family home. After going to school at Rochester Institute of Technology for printing management, and pursuing career paths in printing and technology, he ultimately decided to pursue what he loves, starting RRBuilders.
“Our first home, 19 years ago, was also my first build,” says Rosano, who turned a 2,000-square-foot Cape in New Canaan into a 7,500-square-foot Shingle-style Colonial. “It was a major renovation. I was a sponge, asking many questions to subcontractors and builders, and I learned a great deal from that project. I’m sure I was a bit of a nuisance to many.”
In 2004, he had an opportunity to move to a more convenient location and neighborhood in New Canaan with his wife, Sharon, a product developer with MasterCard International, and two young daughters, now teenagers. At the time, he had no intention of renovating the standard 1970s center-hall Colonial, but three years later he got “the itch,” and tore it down to build the home his family lives in today. “We actually looked into renovating, but it didn’t make sense with everything that we wanted to do,” says Rosano, who bought a new home on the same street to live in during the build. After his new home was complete and his family moved in, he knocked down the other home, built a spec, and a young family and long-term client enjoy it today.
Starting with a clean slate on his current home, Rosano tapped Norwalk-based Gill & Gill Architects to design a six-bedroom, seven-full- and two-half-bath home that would provide as much as possible for the family. Having the option to not have to drive to a club to use a pool or join a gym to work out was all part of the plan. “My wife and I use the fitness room and our daughters have used it for years too,” Rosano says. “And the theater has been great. From family time when [the girls] were smaller to today, the theater is used every week. The billiard room may not get used often, but when we do use it, mostly when friends come over, we’re happy we have it.”
When the theater’s not stealing the show, the kitchen is where the family spends most of its time. Mostly open to the family room with some cabinetry separating the rooms, the kitchen is home to a large, two-level island with natural honed white statuary marble and dark cabinetry, which contrasts nicely with the lighter perimeter cabinetry. It also includes one of two kitchen sinks and dishwashers, plus convenient refrigerated drawers.
Throughout the interior, custom millwork — cabinetry, crown molding, baseboards, casings and coffered ceilings — all add beauty and architectural detail. Richard and Sharon worked as a team to make decisions on millwork finishes, color, tile, countertops and more.
“He didn’t cut any corners,” says Harrison Gill, co-owner of Gill & Gill Architects along with his wife, Patsy, when speaking to Rosano’s use of quality materials and value on craftsmanship. “He did it right the first time.”
For interior design, the Rosanos worked with Karin Verdi of New Canaan-based KVM Interiors and Linda Banks of Banks Design Associates, who has since moved to Falmouth, Maine, and opened Simply Home, a design center and retail store. To keep things looking contemporary through the years, the Rosanos changed paint colors and updated furnishings.
Outside is a true extension of the home’s interior. More than half of the 2 acres of property that was dense woods was cleared, and the family gave Stecks Nursery & Landscaping, based in Bethel, full rein to create six individual spaces: firepit, kitchen, sitting area, swimming pool, and fireplace and spa areas. “The concept is based on storybook design,” says Gregory Mauron, owner of Stecks. “If you open a storybook, you don’t rush right to the end. You want to build up the curiosity, so that the reader will turn the page. It’s the same with the landscape. You want people to move through your spaces and want for more.”
Rosano says the family practically lives outside in the summer. When building the pool, they installed underwater speakers that Rosano says plays crystal-clear music. Later, when he saw another client incorporate colored LED lighting in their pool and spa, he did the same. Always looking to keep his home up to date, they added more landscape lighting and upgraded fixtures for convenience and safety.
The inside has all the latest bells and whistles, too. Music throughout the house, as well as outside, and the thermostats, are controlled by smartphone. With updated security, they also get alerts on their phones if the alarm system goes off or if the garage door is left open, and an upgraded, eco-friendly irrigation system waters only when needed. “A lot of the new technology examples are not crazy expensive devices; pretty minimal,” Rosano says.
With all the sublime rooms and technological features in the house, what are Rosano’s favorites? A simple $100 pot filler on the wall over his dog’s water bowl, and a built-in coffee maker that, with the push of a button, grinds the beans and makes a fresh cup of joe. Rosano freely admits he’s gone well beyond the necessities with his family’s dream home. “None of these are must-haves, none of us need any of this. However, it supports convenience, safety, peace of mind and enjoyment.”