When Catherine and her husband first saw their future home in the tiny Connecticut town of Sherman, an hour and a half’s drive from New York City, they were instantly charmed.
Not only did the property offer a beautiful, lakefront location with privacy and close proximity to the city, but it also came with a midcentury modern home that had been virtually untouched since it was built in the 1950s.
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A lover of midcentury modern design, Catherine saw potential in the home right away—the couple loved the open-plan flexibility and the way the floor-to-ceiling windows pulled lake views indoors—and sought a sensitive renovation that would bring the outdated ranch to modern standards.
To that end, the couple tapped New Haven–based Gray Organschi Architecture, having spotted and admired the firm’s work in a Dwell Magazine feature.
"We loved their attention to detail and contemporary aesthetics," Catherine says. "We wanted someone who could help us renovate and keep the original spirit of the house while bringing in a contemporary feel." The intent was to thoughtfully renovate the house into a family-friendly weekend home and a future retirement residence.
Before: Living Room
After: Living Room
High on the couple’s list of priorities was creating larger living areas for entertaining, additional bedrooms for housing friends and family, and a strengthened indoor/outdoor connection. A gut renovation and layout reorganization achieved these goals, while original midcentury features, such as the vaulted ceiling in the living area and the double fireplace, were retained wherever possible.
Before: Dining Room
After: Dining Room
At the north end of the building, the architects added a long, two-story extension as the new bedroom wing: three bedrooms and a bunk room are on the ground floor, while the master suite is located on the floor above. The design of the sloped addition, oriented for optimal views of Candlewood Lake, is a modern interpretation of the shed roof additions seen on gabled barns in Western Connecticut.
Before: North Side
After: North Side
In keeping with the midcentury modern appeal of the house, Catherine furnished the interiors with period-appropriate finds, citing her brother-in-law’s Scandinavian vintage furniture store in Le Marais in Paris, Nordik Market, as a major inspiration.
"Scandinavian design is a big source of inspiration, including the art piece above the fireplace which is from a Scandinavian artist," Catherine shares. "The light fixtures—more than the furniture itself—were a major element I used to create a unique feel and make an aesthetic statement."
Before: South Porch
After: South Porch
"The result is a series of vignettes—intimate passages and cozy spaces that open onto sweeping lake views," the architects note. "Warm wood tones contrast against lush evergreens and existing stone walls newly painted a deep black."
More Before & After: A New Orleans Midcentury Undergoes a 20-Year Makeover
Builder/ General Contractor: Sherman Building Design / Michael Carpanzano
Structural Engineer: Jacobsen Structures / Justin Jacobson
Civil Engineer: Arthur H. Howland & Associates, P.C.
Landscape Design Company: Dirk Sabin Design / Dirk Sabin
Cabinetry Design/ Installation: Whitman Wood Products, Inc. / Peter Wetherbee