Home Tour: A Preppy Connecticut House With Ladylike Details
A few weeks ago, in the midst of holiday craziness, I made my way up from New York City to photograph Sue De Chiara and her family’s Connecticut home. Sue is the founder of Zhush.com, an online home décor retailer and blog. Sue and I have known each other since we had wee baby blogs back in the ‘00s, and I’ve long been a fan of her graceful aesthetic.
Designed in collaboration with Lauren Muse of Muse Interiors, De Chiara’s new Connecticut home —she only moved in a couple months ago—is a mix of traditional east coast style and eclectic artsy coolness. “Naturally, Lauren was a big influence,” says De Chiara, “and I also really admire the work of designers Hilary Thomas, Mary McDonald, and Louise Brooks.” The entrepreneur also found inspiration for her serene home in coastal hues like sandy greiges and blues. “The beach is where my husband and I met, and where we all feel most relaxed,” she says.
Moving into her new home was easier for De Chiara’s family than most. “We were delighted when we realized that most of our beloved living room furniture from our last house fit almost perfectly into our new house here in Connecticut,” she says.
Designing for family living is a struggle that many face, but De Chiara found a way to balance tradition and personal style with a sense of family, comfort, and hominess. “You want your home to be beautiful, but not so dear that it becomes a velvet-roped museum,” she says. “Finding the balance between warm and livable, and styled and beautiful is always the challenge.”
De Chiara admits that she was more successful in this endeavor in some rooms than in others. “Our living room is a bright and calm space,” she says. “When friends ask how we keep it so clean with three kids, I just explain that there’s no TV and bad Wi-Fi reception, so the kids have very little interest in hanging out there.” Throughout the rest of the house, little touches like giant baskets filled with LEGOs, large-scale black-and-white family photos, her son’s tiny bathing trunks in the powder room, and a handmade dress her mother wore as a young girl escaping Nazi Germany help give the home a sense of history and tradition.
Although her husband may have argued against the dark shade of De Chiara’s bar, “Painting the walls a deep high gloss blue was something I wanted to do from day one,” says De Chiara. “It's my favorite room in the house!”
“This Farrow and Ball Lotus paper is a favorite of mine, but the Lucite and brass sink is the real show-stopper,” she says.
De Chiara has also developed a beautiful art collection with a number of figurative and abstract works sprinkled throughout her home. But again, the focus comes back to family: "My favorite piece in the house is the series of colorful Carter Kustera silhouettes of my children that greet you in the foyer as you walk in,” she says.
“White kitchens are and probably always will be my favorite. I love all the natural light this room gets,” De Chiara says.
The homeowner’s daughters, aged 12 and 15, also had a hand in the design. “Since we just moved in and they’re old enough to have a say, I let them pick their own wall colors,” De Chiara says. “Both chose white rooms with a clean and minimalistic vibe, no doubt making me proud!”
“I love the preppy, nautical nod to the beach in this bathroom,” De Chiara says.