PHOTOGRAPHY: NICHOLAS VENEZIA
This two-story, three-bedroom Guest House is set on a sprawling estate, up an impressive hill, off a charming dirt road, in Pound Ridge. This project was the first of several projects that interior designer, Merrin Jones, has now undertaken for a Brooklyn-based couple using this property only for weekends and holidays.
Dedicated and separate from the main house, the clients wanted the space to exude quietude, calm, and serenity… and to be an oasis unto itself. With a wet bar, two full bathrooms, and a family room that’s as nice, and as big, as in most primary residences, any visitor would delight.
“I was thrilled to get this assignment,” Merrin explains. “Although I have clients where I’m just ‘freshening-up’ or ‘redecorating’ whatever exists, I love the opportunity to work on a blank stage. Create something that’s just what the client wants, and do the design with a clarity of purpose. The message I got from the clients was that they wanted a kind of more elegant and sophisticated neutral space that would appeal to everyone. Relaxed, but not like a den or a bunkhouse. And a tad formal, yet also very comfortable and inviting.” And, with her team at Merrin Jones Interiors, and working closely with builder D&J Euro Home, they did everything down to the last detail in less than a year.
“In this Guest House, the color palette was extremely important. I wanted the entire space to look sunwashed and open to the outdoors, while still feeling cozy and warm, especially for the colder months,” Merrin explains. In every direction there’s a spot for a guest to curl up with a good book, or sprawl out for a nap after a hot summer day by the pool.
The family room’s high vaulted A-frame ceilings and ample natural light were a great backdrop to start with. Adding wainscotting around the room added a beachy vibe, and played to the stature of the space. Pulling from the neutral all- appealing palette, Merrin chose an oatmeal linen blend performance fabric for an extra- deep sofa and a hand knotted wool Loloi rug with subtle touches of taupes and browns that would be extra-soft on bare feet, and be forgiving to life’s mishaps, that has a light pattern that won’t overwhelm. Accents such as the brushed blond wood in the coffee table and end table, and the trim and legs of the sofa, serve to visually tie everything together. Subtle black accents on the light fixtures, mirror, and fireplace provide context. And for the final touch, the coffee table books and accent pillows were selected to perfectly harmonize with the large piece of mixed media art centered on the expansive wall above the sofa.
An intimate breakfast table set off to the side of the family room leads out to the 11’ x 17’ screened-in porch. “These folks want their guests to be able to come up for a long weekend and really get to enjoy nature and the outdoors in Pound Ridge. On this back porch, completely surrounded by trees, it feels like you’re up in the woods of Maine at a remote camp…not only an hour from Manhattan. We pulled that off by selecting furniture that felt like it belonged in a plush indoor living room, and a substantial concrete coffee table with a retro textured base, and a Rejuvenation patterned indoor- outdoor rug.”
The primary suite is a sensory experience in and of itself. The thick rug, made of marbled New Zealand wool, is immediately inviting, and the first glimpse of the room reveals a luxuriously draped cut-in window seat with a linen and wool bouclé blend cushion that has a vintage and relaxed feel. Covered beams and Modern Gray by Sherwin Wiliams wainscotting liaise with the sumptuous oversized custom king bed created locally at Chris Upholstery in Norwalk, and pillows, to create a sophisticated California- cool vibe. “Although it’s often an afterthought, the linens in the bedroom are one of the most crucial layers to tie the space together; I selected Zak & Fox and Fayce Textiles oversized Euro pillows, and a linen comforter with a bone and boxed linen quilt in charcoal. Mixing together the darks and lights were huge for us to make the space what we wanted it to be, and the super chunky throw would certainly make me never want to leave the bed,” Merrin explains.
In order to accommodate any kind of guest party, the second and third bedrooms are designed to lodge couples or singles, babies or adults. The second bedroom uses a refreshing blue/gray vinyl canvas wallpaper as the anchor for a soothing and cool space. A plethora of textural elements provide ample opportunities for amusement, and the room manages to quiet the outside world.
Upstairs, the lofted bedroom is like a bolder younger cousin of the family room, with plenty of plush pillows and welcoming comfort at the heart of the design.
Merrin summarizes, “I think of interior design as a very organic process. Much more chiaroscuro than abstract. I usually don’t go for the big splash of bright color or other too-intentionally eye-catching techniques. I’m blending textures and tones to work together, and I’m focused on how the project will look and, maybe even more important, how it will feel. Unlike other artists, I don’t want someone who sees my work to come away thinking ‘Merrin Jones’. I want them to remember their holistic experience and sense of the space.”