The Southport Colonial is a sophisticated adult masterpiece and a casual space for an active family

After the marriage, Francesco and Mary Lee Daniele bought their first home in the Sogatoque area of ​​Westport, and chose to move out of New York City before having children, despite their friends’ dismay. After the move, they were happy to live a suburban life while commuting to fund jobs in Manhattan, and planned to stay in their new home for a long time. But after five and two young years, and amid the COVID-19 lockdown, they have been longing for more space.

“The house met our needs at the time,” says Francesco. Then my mom, who lives in Italy, came to visit us for our son’s birthday and was stuck here until the summer because the borders were closed. Here’s when we realized we needed a home office, more bedrooms and extra space for the kids. We weren’t actively looking, but we did travel through Southport and loved the historical feel of the city. It felt like a place lost in time.”

After falling in love with the town, they found a home they loved just as much – an elegant colonial-style brick house, which mirrors those of the south where Merry Lee grew up. However, once they entered, the 1960s home was dim with a series of cramped rooms. After completing several home projects in their Westport home, they were not dissuaded. But that person proved to be outside their comfort zone, so they called Darren Architects Christopher Bagliaro and Leah Ward, founder of New Canaan-based LTW Design, who jumped aboard the project.

Pagliaro and Ward collaborated to create a good flow and open layout by removing most of the internal structure. The back wall of the house has been pushed in to create a glass exhibition hall that seamlessly connects all the rooms. With ceilings 10 feet higher than ceilings 8 feet throughout the house, this new addition creates an inviting open concept and floods the home with natural light. Part of the kitchen also has a higher ceiling, and the newly renovated entrance hall has two floors, which makes a great first impression.

“It’s all very beautiful and calm,” says Meri Lee, who is enjoying her new role as a full-time mother of two children, under 5, and two English Bulldogs. “The first time I saw Leah’s work on Instagram, I immediately thought, ‘This is how I feel.’ “We don’t like a lot of color, but we like a lot of texture and fun things. And Leah got it. Plus, she’s a mom and understands how to make a livable space. She’s created a place where everyone can live without feeling cluttered.”

While some designers will alter their appearance based on a client’s aesthetic, Ward does not. It has its own signature style and attracts customers who love the LTW look – quiet, clean lines and bold neutrals. Danieles’ house is light in color throughout except for the hallway, home office and powder room which dark and moody Ward made with a modern vibe.

Says Ward, who has developed LTW Design from an interim firm to a sought-after design firm. “My goal is to create quiet spaces. I use the ‘casually sophisticated’ mantra because we design our projects to be sophisticated enough that our clients are proud to bring their adult friends for entertaining, yet informal enough that they are inviting, cozy and most of all durable for parties, kids and pets “.

To achieve the LTW look, Ward says, a little is always more. This means fewer pieces within the room, and large, bold, sculptural furniture. With this approach, each piece feels important and owns the space in it, whether it’s a 65-inch coffee table in a couple’s living area or an oversized dining table. Performance cloth, an easy-to-clean, long-wearing material made from a blend of synthetic and natural fibres, is also key.

The kitchen’s plentiful white oak cabinets match the beautiful beamwork. Two stylish and functional 12-foot concrete islands with three drawers in one house children’s crayons and other items, promoting order and preventing clutter. So aware of the needs of a busy family, Ward created a mudroom with custom-designed cabinets that serve as a crate for everything from outerwear to shoes, and even a dog room complete with dog beds and showers. “Lea knew how to hide a mess,” Meri Lee says. “Thanks to her design motions, we can easily put everything back together and make it always look great.”

“When you visit family, everyone has their own room now,” adds Francesco. ‘I have a lot of family members from Italy, and Meri Lee’s family is from the south, so when they visit it’s not just for the weekend. It’s always an extended period of time. An extended house was important so that everyone could feel comfortable. Previously, my mother was a sleeper In the living room where I was working.”

From start to finish, the renovation of the six-bedroom, six-bathroom 7,500-square-foot home took about 11 months. They closed the property in October 2020, started construction in January 2021, and were home the Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2021.

“They both put a lot of love into this project,” Ward says. “That’s what I loved about them. It made me want to really give them this dream home of theirs. I appreciate that they not only enthusiastically engaged, but also trusted me.”


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