The New Canaan Holiday House Tour is a biennial event hosted by the New Canaan Newcomers Club – that brings YOU inside of some of the most spectacular houses in town… and it’s all to benefit great local charities. What could be better?! Peek inside homes that you’ve always wanted to see, and the money goes to organiziations you want to support.
Bedford & New Canaan Magazine is this years’ Media Sponsor for the event – so we’re getting you an exclusive sneak peek inside each of these homes, and some advance info on what to expect.
House 1: Merry on Mill Road
The historic Silvermine area of New Canaan is a coveted neighborhood known for enchanting winding streets and elegant antique homes. When Liz and Ray Ariola were looking for a place to settle and raise their young family, they fell in love with the charm of this area. Having lived in New York City and downtown Greenwich before moving to New Canaan, Liz was attracted to this walkable neighborhood with Gray Barns and the Silvermine Arts Center a short stroll away. For this young couple, it is the perfect balance between a gorgeous bucolic setting and easy access to conveniences.
Their beautiful home is a modern interpretation of a classic New England colonial and is set back from the road overlooking the Silvermine River. Built in 2016, Liz and Ray lovingly added their own personal touches upon purchasing the home a few years ago. These included a fabulous backyard bluestone patio with great entertaining spaces and lush landscaping by Yardzen. In addition, they renovated the kitchen which includes white painted shaker style cabinets, shiplap for the wall covering, a custom hood and a large island for food preparation. No detail was overlooked in creating this gorgeous chef’s kitchen. One of Liz’s favorite features is her well-organized pantry filled with kitchenware from Juliska.
The soothing decor aesthetic and thoughtful layout provide the perfect environment for the homeowners to raise their young children. Throughout the home there are well-appointed natural elements such as wooden beams and antique Belgian white oak floors. The thoughtful design is perfect for entertaining and includes an open floor plan with multiple seating areas. The stunning fireplace can be viewed from all sections of the first floor. The children’s play area, partially concealed beyond large barn doors, provides ample space to neatly organize toys and books. Liz worked with interior designer Megan Pflug to turn her vision for the home’s furnishings and color palette into reality. Meanwhile, Merrin Jones helped her design the children’s rooms. The downstairs is filled with neutral, calming tones and a curated selection of artwork while the upstairs children’s bedrooms have wonderful pops of color and whimsical wallpaper selections.
Nikki Glazer, from GrayBarns and founder/creative director of GrayGoods, is the Holiday House Tour designer. Nikki previously worked with Liz and Ray to style their home, and so was the ideal designer for this return holiday engagement. Her design incorporates decor reminiscent of a cozy holiday afternoon at home – the perfect place to spend a snow day. Nikki’s passion for found objects and creating an intimate environment with luxurious textiles and laid back natural appeal bring the wonder of the holiday season to this family home. As an added treat for tour guests, Nikki created a Gray Barns “pop up” with mocktails and light bites served on the backyard patio.
The Adirondack Store and Gallery, located on Elm Street in downtown New Canaan, and The Finish, an interior design firm in Southport, partnered with Nikki to provide additional holiday styling both inside and outside of the home. Sarah Saunders created a special nature inspired indoor wreath. Stems + Co supplied the front door wreath as well as the amazing floral and greenery garland for the dining table. The gorgeous Christmas trees and all other lovely greenery were generously provided by Designs by Lee. This creative team designed a picture perfect holiday home that is sure to inspire!
House 2: Fabulous farmhouse!
Featuring contemporary elegance combined with the inviting layout of a classic farmhouse style, this home allows for the busy casual lifestyle of a family of five while providing a beautifully sophisticated atmosphere for entertaining both inside and out. Designed by Interior Designer Krista Fox this spacious new construction home offers an open concept plan and a neutral palette to celebrate a huge amount of natural light creating a clean, fresh, and welcoming ambience. Luscious fabrics, honed stone finishes and natural-toned white oak wood floors add texture and warmth which blend seamlessly with the sophisticated furnishings to fit the vibe of the owners perfectly. Custom cabinetry and dedicated spaces provide functionality as well as ease to this beautifully appointed home. The exterior entertaining spaces and thoughtful landscape design by Jennifer Anderson extend that welcoming message to the beautiful pool, firepit and bar areas for year-round enjoyment for family and friends.
Holiday House Tour guests will be able to enjoy the main floor and lower level of this home, starting with the Foyer, bright and warm, that opens both left and right to the Dining room and the Billiard room. The Billiard Room off the main entrance was a specific request of the homeowners to make this area more tailored to the way they receive and entertain their family and friends. A large bay window centers that room and allows for plenty of light and architectural interest. This cleverly designed space features a fireplace, bar, and a “secret” door to the office on the other side. The Dining room to the right off the Foyer (with an adjacent wet bar) was designed with dinner parties and holiday entertaining in mind. The soothing palette and soft lighting greet every occasion with a warm glow of light, either from the chandelier and sconces, or the natural warmth of a sunset from the west-facing windows. The Family Room off the Foyer opens to a beautiful view of the private patio with a large pool and exterior spaces for entertaining year-round. The use of custom stained white oak beams, matching oven hood and kitchen island add a unique warmth, texture and a farmhouse feel creating a cozy feeling even in this spacious area. Adjacent to the kitchen is the “Scullery”, an innovative workspace, custom designed with detailed requirements by the owner for care for the many family pets, flower arranging, and housing all the things a busy family might need to grab on the go. This working area connects to the mudroom and the fabulous custom built-in storage designed specifically to keep the young family organized. Not to be missed, purposely inconspicuous, and blended-in behind a shiplap sliding barn door, is another home office where the daily to-do list can be accessed easily and discretely. Before guests leave the home, they can visit the lower level which features a playful living area for the younger members of the family to entertain their friends, enjoy games or do homework. Don’t miss the family’s very own art room and creative space ready for all sorts of projects… and fun!
Entertaining is at the cornerstone of the homeowners’ lifestyle and the Holiday Season is particularly special to them as they treasure so many family traditions. For this Holiday House Tour, they have joined efforts once again with Krista Fox and Jennifer Anderson to create a very sophisticated theme with texture and sparkle that speaks to their design language. The “Silver Bells” theme features Jenny Anderson’s greenery outdoor designs and Earth Garden’s front door planters, greenery and indoor floral arrangements throughout the home. Liz King from The Linen Shop in New Canaan, has generously created a beautiful table scape for the tour that adds the sparkle and festive touches that fit the home perfectly. The warm energy of the house is at the forefront, showcasing the clever and unexpected use of lighting, sparkle, metallics and unique fresh greens to make it feel festive and special for this family. Because of the existing serenity of the palette of the house, the design team will be using less of the predictable greens and more of the softer look of sage and eucalyptus. The house really lends itself to the lightness, freshness and reflective qualities of snow and the silver/blue color of ice crystals. The addition of sleigh bells and the scents of the season layer in those special elements to celebrate all the elements of the holidays!
House 3: Black Tie Holiday Fête
Along one of New Canaan’s prettiest roads stands this stunning colonial perfectly situated on the gracious property. The elegant gated entrance leads to the new parking courtyard and lush landscaping which were designed and installed by Elise Landscapes and Nursery. Built in 2018, Andrea McDonough and David Goulden purchased the home in early 2020. The traditional front exterior is wonderfully juxtaposed by a sophisticated contemporary interior. The spectacular architecture and well-thought out flow earned Riverside Design & Build two HOBI awards. The home features an inviting layout with both formal living and dining rooms which provide ample space for entertaining. The owners incorporated fabulous furnishings from brands such as Roche Bobois in the interior design. They also followed the principles of feng shui to determine the furniture layout and color scheme. Drawing from their extensive collection of artwork, they carefully selected colorful pieces to complete the tasteful decor.
The grand entry staircase features paneled walls and oversized windows leading to the second floor bedrooms. A rare 1929 Steinway grand piano in the upstairs sitting area is the perfect spot for post-dinner cocktails and sing-a-longs. A secondary staircase connects to the oversized mudroom downstairs which is complete with custom cubbies and finishes to make life well organized.
Next to the mudroom, the meticulously designed custom kitchen by Deane incorporates functional spaces for cooking and relaxed dining. Classic choices, such as white cabinetry and a marble backsplash, create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Wonderful morning light floods the kitchen and family room from the large windows and french doors that frame the back of the house in a contemporary style. This also serves to unite the indoor living spaces with the outside entertaining areas.
The backyard terrace overlooks the pool’s dramatic infinity edge. Just a few steps down, the bluestone patio holds a sectional, large screen television and a stone fire pit perfect for cooler nights. One of the things that attracted Andrea and David to the house was the large backyard which is completely fenced in to allow their three beautiful dogs freedom to roam. Elise Landscapes and Nursery created spectacular layered landscaping that looks manicured during all seasons.
The gorgeous pool house is reflective of mid-century design and a nod to New Canaan’s architectural history. In fact, the Alice Ball House and Celanese House, two notable mid-century homes, are neighbors. When the homeowners decided to add a new detached garage, they naturally gravitated to mid-century architecture that mirrored the design of the existing pool house. Working with James Schettino Architects and Fox Hill Builders, the homeowners’ new garage was completed in the summer of 2021 and holds their extensive luxury car collection which is on display for the tour.
Dana Koebbe, the interior designer for the Holiday House Tour, utilizes contemporary holiday decor to complement the interiors. Considering the sophisticated furnishings and the homeowners’ love of entertaining, Dana’s theme for the house is a black tie holiday fête. New York City is her favorite destination during the holiday season and she brings the grandeur of the city to this New Canaan home.
Dana’s design palette includes luxurious textiles such as satin wrapping papers and elegant fabric ribbons. The ornaments on the two Christmas trees, prominently displayed in the family room and living room, add to the elegant and formal atmosphere. Pops of cranberry stand out among a black and white color palette. Magnolia, cedar and pine greens are also favorites of Dana’s when decorating for the holidays. The greenery was generously provided by Fresh-Cut Fraser Firs based in New Canaan. Emily Candee of Vine collaborated with Dana to provide incredible floral arrangements.
House 4: A New York Christmas
Following Oenoke Ridge just past Country Club Road, a private cul-de-sac meanders to reveal this elegant five-acre Georgian Colonial estate. Designed and built by Gardiner & Larson Homes in 1996, the stunning home features grand rooms for entertaining that complement the stately exterior grounds. The meticulously designed gardens contain two water features and a stunning swimming pool overlooking New Canaan Land Trust property.
In the summer of 2020, a young family of four welcomed the opportunity to make this home their own. The wife grew up in New York City and loved spending weekends in Pound Ridge throughout her childhood. The husband appreciated growing up in Madison, Connecticut and had hoped to return to Connecticut someday. The family is thrilled to join the New Canaan community and love the inviting town and gorgeous landscape.
The home features a Christopher Peacock kitchen, an elegant master suite designed by DEANE and Dushi Marble & Granite throughout. Large French doors grace every room of the main floor making the transition from indoor to outdoor living seamless. The estate is uniquely powered entirely by solar energy.
The couple painted the interior and exterior of the home and worked with Townsend Lloyd of Townsend & Co Interiors on a design vision. Her goal was to embrace the homeowners’ sophisticated style, appreciation of classic architecture and love of modern decor all while keeping family and function at the forefront of each decision. The architecture of the home is classic however they incorporated contemporary design through the specification of furniture and art. Townsend carefully worked with her clients on the floor plans to ensure the proper scale of the furniture and carpets, sourcing carpet from STARK. The homeowner works with Blair Clarke of Voltz Clarke Gallery in New York City to find inspiration.
The home will be decorated as an ode to the festive spirit of New York City at the holidays! The designer and her clients found inspiration in the magnificent window displays, magical lights and iconic tree at Rockefeller Center. Working with Pound Ridge Nursery, they are excited to bring the spirit of New York to the country with a few holiday surprises in store! They will echo the elegant, yet refined and sophisticated nature of the interiors in the holiday decor using mixed metal ornaments paired with elegant and festive floral arrangements by Bloomcraft – a local New Canaan business. Together guests will be transported and will experience a space that is unexpected, interesting and memorable.
This holiday season will certainly be magical for the family. They love to entertain and host family and friends and to create holiday traditions with their children. Three out of the four family members have December birthdays, so December is not short on cake!
House 5: Classic Christmas
This landmarked home high atop Brushy Ridge blends the historical old-world charm of a vintage country estate with today’s finest modern luxuries. It was originally constructed in 1903 for Charles Edward Diefenthaler and his wife Antonia F. Fischer as a summer escape from the city. At the time of the construction, sweeping views of the Long Island Sound were possible from the entire south façade. In June 1909, the New Canaan Garden Club held its first Flower Show on the home’s veranda where Mrs. Lewis Lapham was in attendance. In fact, this home has hosted several legendary soirees over its 118-year history.
By 1912, the property had grown to 56 acres and then in 1938, the Diefenthalers sold the estate to John Kellam. In the 1980s, the property was subdivided into seven parcels and five additional homes were built along a private lane known as Kellam Hill. The adjacent stables are also now a significant separate family home complete with an octagon-shaped water tower. Stories from the children who grew up on the property included riding their horses to Ox Ridge in Darien.
Originally hailing from Baltimore and New Canaan, the current homeowners moved back to New Canaan in 2000 and eventually bought the property in 2015 for their family of six. They have lovingly restored the home, assisted by the southern-inspired style and guidance of Lisa Hilderbrand of Hilderbrand Interiors.
While the exteriors are reminiscent of Tudor style with leaded glass windows, dark shingles and stone, and the interiors are distinguished by extensive millwork, coffered ceilings and floor to ceiling paneling, its position on the ridge and high ceilings flood every room with soft natural light. The available views from each window are of gently rolling lawns and mature plantings. The massive front porte cochere opens into an expansive front to back foyer and formal living room that are adorned with beautiful antiques collected from around the world, juxtaposed with splashes of color in the form of modern art and vibrant fabrics. The traditional dining room showcases the homeowners’ fabulous silver collection in a floor to ceiling leaded glass China cabinet reminiscence of 100 years ago. The wood paneled study features a portion of the homeowner’s Chesapeake Bay decoy collection and exudes a Montana hunting lodge vibe where the homeowners also spend time. The relaxed and recently renovated kitchen and family room were combined into a single great room, bookended by a Lacanche stove. And just this fall, the reimagined butler’s pantry with stone by Dushi Marble and Granite makes functional use of the space between the dining room and kitchen, as well as for entertaining outdoors. The back veranda stretching the length of the home and wrapping around to gardens on the western side completes the spacious first floor, serving as host to year-round entertainment and summer sea breezes from the sound.
While preserving the historical integrity, the homeowners have undertaken several projects enabling the home to function better for their active family. They finished the lower level and third floor, added a staircase to the upper level, and renovated the carriage house to include a second-floor office. More practical than glamorous, they also moved the utilities away from the house, which allows for an expanded patio with a fire pit and outdoor kitchen.
For this holiday season, Lisa Hilderbrand will transport the home back to the golden age with a classical representation of Christmas featuring greenery, lush flowers and fresh produce. The banister will be wrapped in fresh evergreens, an annual tradition, with the greenery donated by Pound Ridge Nursery. The living room will showcase a 12’ tree provided by Gregg’s Garden Center and florals provided by the talented Karen Legan of Lemon Dahlia. Weather permitting, guests will depart through the sprawling veranda, without a doubt the highlight of this country estate. The homeowners look forward to each December, which is extra special as it is also their wedding anniversary, and all four children return home. Time honored family traditions at Brushy Ridge include attending the Nutcracker ballet in New York and in New Canaan, decorating gingerbread houses, enjoying a feast of beef tenderloin and Maryland crab imperial and Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby Christmas tunes filling the home. However, the debate of colored versus white twinkle lights will continue to rage on, just like the fires in the home’s three spectacular fireplaces.