Like the entries to many a large suburban house, this one packs a dramatic punch. Two stories tall, with parquet flooring, a second-story gallery, and a lofty ceiling composed of antiqued mirrored tiles, the foyer is the suitably impressive introduction to a 10,000-square-foot house built in the 1970s. But what catches the eye and delights the senses is the art.
In one corner, under the stairs, a swarm of intensely blue butterflies appears to flutter upward on the white wall. They are the work of Paul Villinski, a New York sculptor known for his installations of butterflies made from recycled materials.
“The owner is a collector who finds and buys her own art,” says Susan Stacy of Gauthier-Stacy Inc., the interior design firm in Boston she founded with her partner Jim Gauthier, about her client. “She likes bold pieces, art that’s colorful and has a lot of impact. As a result, we kept the interior a bit more neutral.”
Also on display in the front hall are paintings, including the pop art-inflected Psychic Sidekick by Mark Allen, an abstract red Magma by Teodora Pica, and, with blue and gold colors that speak to the azure butterflies, Blue Star by Guido de’ Costanzo.
Stacy and Gauthier, had worked with the clients, a family with young children who wanted space to entertain, in the past and helped them search for the property of their dreams. They chose a generously proportioned house in Weston, Massachusetts, that hints at chateau-style elements with a deeply pitched roof, multiple gables, stone siding, and an embracing, U-shaped front facade. Among the house’s appeals were 2003 and 2007 renovations, which meant very little needed updating or upgrading, leaving the designers to concentrate on the decor.
“We just did some modifications,” Stacy says. “The goal was for it to not necessarily look decorated. They have all that wonderful art, as well as found objects they brought back from their travels.”
Among the modifications in the soaring hall are the mirrored ceiling tiles and a crystal-and-metal chandelier whose contemporary styling evokes falling rain.
Set in the center of the house, the hall has an archway opposite the front door that opens to the living room. To the left is the master bedroom suite, to the right is the kitchen and family room. A paved terrace stretches across the rear of the house and leads to the swimming pool and gardens. There is also a screened porch off the kitchen and family room.
The 20-by-25-foot living room demonstrates how Gauthier-Stacy’s neutral background showcases bold art, but its furnishings are anything but boring. They include a king-size round ottoman upholstered in white set before the fireplace, a fanciful gilt, wood, and mirrored Thai cocktail table, a pair of carved-wood antique armchairs, and a custom red rug.
“We tried to utilize the entire space,” says Stacy. “The room is big, so instead of just putting chairs in front of the fireplace, we created a couple of seating areas.”
Throughout the house, she and Gauthier designed custom furniture in clean, simple shapes sized to suit the scale of the rooms.
Neutral walls are a good background for art, but the homeowner loves color, so the dining room is finished in eggplant-hued wallpaper that has a watery horizontal pattern. The powder room, too, has a striking hand-painted silk wall treatment that recalls travertine. In the spacious kitchen, upper display niches and a cabinet are painted cobalt blue, while the backsplash is done in watery blue glass tile.
The master bedroom is all about serenity. White ripple-fold curtains line the wall behind the bed, hiding an unwanted window. White walls, trim, upholstery, and bedding make for a calm space that opens through French doors to the rear terrace. On a wall close to the bed, the homeowner displays one of her favorite pieces of art — Untitled 4 by Zhuang Hong Yi — a mesmerizing, textured work composed of countless pieces of folded rice paper, one of the artist’s Flower Bed series.
Another favorite artwork takes pride of place in the two-story family room. Above the fireplace under the vaulted ceiling is a collage of family photos that, like a Magic Eye or a stereogram, reveals a peace sign when viewed from a distance. Titled Peace, this custom-designed work by Anna Peri does more than arrange pictures into a pleasing pattern: Its bifold doors open to reveal a television mounted on the wall.
Few rooms are without art. There are bronze figural sculptures on tabletops, shelves, and pedestals, and paintings on the walls. The effect is bright, powerful, and fascinating. When it comes to carefully chosen art, it appears there is no such thing as too much.