Megan Smith-Harris | Photographs by Rana Faure | May/June
IT WASN’T THE FIVE-BEDROOM, 7,000-square-foot house with three fireplaces that wowed Dirk and Marie Antoinette Boot. Rather, it was the sunny, two-acre property with a sports court, swimming pool, and where the house was situated that convinced this family of four to do a cross-town move. The Boots are sociable people and love to entertain. Marie Antoinette is a talented cook with a passion for both food and interior design, so it made sense for the couple to initially focus their renovation budget on a complete kitchen remodel with a refresh of the adjacent family room.
The ho-hum, builder-grade kitchen was demoed and NuKitchen of Norwalk came on board for the design and install process. Today, the sleek and efficient space is a showstopper, boasting a chic Italian aesthetic. The room is anchored by a massive island, topped with a five-inch thick slab of white quartz. Above the island, hangs a striking bubbled glass light fixture. Custom white lacquer Poggenpohl cabinetry adds an element of sophistication.
In addition to the top-of-the-line Miele and Thermador appliances and custom add ons such as pop-up drawers and a camouflaged step stool, there is a swoon worthy coffee station that can whip up a cappuccino with the push of a button. Countertops are fashioned out of Neolith, a manmade stone from Spain that doesn’t stain and is highly heat resistant. It can be made to resemble marble or leathered granite and is virtually indestructible—so much so, that it’s used on the exterior of the space shuttle. A casual eating area features a Saarinen-inspired Tulip table, clear acrylic ghost chairs with fleece throws, and a cornered banquette with graphic pillows.
The family room flows from the kitchen and was updated by replacing the dated brick fireplace surround with gray concrete. White built-in shelves have been added to display books, objets d’art, and family photos.
In contrast to the contemporary kitchen, the formal dining room, is just that—formal. It was designed in tones of blue and white to complement the antique Delft china collection from Ruuhl’s family. A round walnut table by Gregory Clark takes center stage, and the matching chairs are upholstered in a hardworking blue fabric with a satin finish. An ornate chandelier—a wedding present to Marie Antoinette’s parents and the only personal item they brought over from Italy whin they immigrated to America—adds history and a pop of unexpected glam.
“I like the juxtaposition between classic and contemporary,” says Marie Antoinette. “European homes typically have modern kitchens and bathrooms and the living and dining rooms are filled with more formal pieces and family heirlooms.
While the indoor spaces are a distinctive blend of the couple’s Dutch and Italian backgrounds, the outdoor areas are also a reflection of what the Boot’s value: family, nature, and fun. Marie Antoinette’s father, Joseph Sarno, a retired stone mason, built an expansive slate patio that includes a lounge, dining area, and outdoor kitchen. Marie Antoinette sought advice on the garden design from her mother-in-law, Will Boot-Vis, a well-respected Belgium-based horticulturist whose personal gardens have been photographed for many books and magazines.
The backyard is large and flat and the Boot’s make full use of every space. To the left of the patio is a vegetable garden with raised stone beds, that grow kale, zucchini, Swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pole beans, and onions, along with an assortment of herbs.
On the opposite side of the yard is a labyrinth constructed by Sarno with local field stone. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one point of entry and exit and is designed as a meditative tool rather than as a folly. At the very back of the yard stands a sports court—used for volleyball, tennis, and basketball—along with a gracious pool bookended by inviting lounge areas. The couple’s sons, Henry, 20, a college sophomore, and Max, six, a first grade student, make full use of all the outdoor amenities while their parents, relaxing beneath a stylish black and white awning, have an ideal vantage point from which to watch their sons grow and enjoy life outdoors.