PHOTOGRAPHY: CARTER FISH
“We had a great apartment in Brooklyn, but we spent most of Covid living in what was our weekend house in Sharon, Connecticut,” Greg Witzman explains. “As things returned to normal, we realized we’d become too addicted to life in the country to return to a city-based lifestyle, but had to find somewhere that was easily commutable to New York, without being someplace too suburban. Ian and I were determined to find the right environment for our kids, Miles and Zoe, to grow-up in a town with a real culture and plenty of outdoors activities in the mix. As soon as I saw this house; a 3,600 square foot, four bedroom modern, built in 1981, and located on five-and-a-half private wooded acres with a pond, on a rustic dirt road in Pound Ridge, bordering the Cross River Reservoir; I knew we had the right spot and that I could make the house into just the modern for the 21st Century that would suit us to a T.” …The Witzmans closed in June 2021 and with Greg, who is a renowned interior designer and the force behind Greg David Interiors, set to the task, the house is indeed transformed!
The basic form of the house is that of a rectangular barn, with the front entrance in the middle of one of the long walls, and the back wall being a two story wall of glass – and a window to the bucolic backyard and the expansive and wonderful forest that lies beyond.
For the exterior, Greg selected a distinctive Abyss paint, a mix of black, grays and blues, which makes the house stand out strikingly on the property, yet blend into the lush and leafy environment at the same time. The wooden front door, window frames, and eaves of the house are all done in a tan stain that highlights the structure. At night, there’s the effect of a giant glass cube, all lit up, in the middle of nowhere.
The interaction between the inside and the outdoors is constant, and the Witzmans completely redesigned and rebuilt the back deck to accommodate a large dining area and a casual lounge and seating area. “I like being in nature, but the back deck is this nice in-between where we get to feel fully immersed, but still have all the comforts and benefits of modern living. During warmer months, the deck is just an extension of our living room. I go out without socks on, and the kids constantly gravitate towards playing out there,” Greg says with some glee. The pool area is its own oasis, set within view of the house but positioned to provide privacy as well. And a new garage, echoing the shape and style of the main house, makes the place feel like a compound.
Inside the home it’s like a Kandinsky that’s come alive. Pops of bright colors, interesting shapes and textures, dark lines that create movement…all set up in a kind of random harmony. Greg’s work is bold and exciting, and he’s particularly well known for the way he designs interiors to compliment and contrast with the shapes and style of the architecture in a home. In this house, Greg uses design elements to draw the eye out to the view, up to the vaulted ceiling, and around into each of the interesting nooks, hallways and spaces. The art displayed seems important. Greg’s decorating is eclectic, with a modern look overall. As Greg puts it, “Mixing old and new brings meaning into each space and gives a house its character, and it’s a fundamental component of my design aesthetic whenever possible.” The home’s interiors have the dramatic feeling of a gallery like the Hirschorn or the Guggenheim or the Museum of Modern Art, mixed with the comfort and charm of a beach house in Fire Island or the Hamptons.
The vaulted wooden ceiling is done in the same tan stain as the window frames, with white beams, adding to the light, airy and open nature inside the home. A striking custom carpet with bright blues, yellow and white in bold geometric patterns, outlines the living room seating area and sets the tone for the larger open-concept space. The floor-to-ceiling fireplace is done in black handmade cement tiles from Morocco, and adds to the expanse and veracity of the space. The stair banisters and upstairs balcony railings are all painted true black, with similar impact. The furniture and fixtures are all modern, and carefully added for their shape, fabric, or anchoring color. And true to Greg’s design style, he incorporated a variety of interesting and meaningful pieces to make the house feel like ‘home sweet home’ for his family. The vintage lamp on the living room table belonged to Greg’s grandmother and was in every home she owned, and Greg ‘borrowed’ the two black chairs – original Philip Stark – from his own parents’ apartment because they ‘belonged’ in this living room. And on the upstairs balcony that overlooks the living room Greg hung a large neon sign that says ‘Watch How You Go’ – Ian’s grandmother’s signature phrase…and done in her handwriting!
In addition, throughout the house, there are nods to Greg and Ian’s extensive travels, including the year the couple quit their jobs to go backpacking around the world. There’s a stunning wall of framed photographs from Greg and Ian’s adventures that changes what would be an ordinary wall at the foot of the stairs into a riveting exhibit. And colorful souvenirs and artifacts from far away places add an interesting touch all around the house. “So many of my design ideas come from all of the different and rich cultures I’ve experienced,” Greg says with a warm smile..
A sensational light fixture that looks like a scepter of light or a glass blower, suspended horizontally over the glass dining table, turns the open space into a formal dining room. A clear USM bookshelf standing between the dining room and kitchen establishes a separation, while maintaining essential site lines to and from the kitchen.
Designed against the entire side wall of the house, and featuring a 6 burner stove and Bertazzoni hood with an expansive counter-to-ceiling ‘backsplash’ centered on the backdrop of the entire wall, a large island in the center of the space, white marble countertops and dark stained cabinetry, and state of the art appliances and conveniences, the kitchen is a chef’s dream and an active family’s delight. Both Greg and Ian are great cooks and regularly like to entertain…and Tuesday is ‘Taco Night’ at the Witzman house.
Also on the main floor, Greg repurposed an extra living room as a guest suite with a full bath. “Guest baths are always an opportunity to go a little crazy and have some fun,” Greg smiles, showing off the purple patterned wallpaper and shocking black fixtures in the new bath.
The basement was reconfigured and finished to create a large playroom, a nanny’s room, a gym, and a functional mudroom and side entrance to the house. The full height windows facing the front of the house make the basement feel like anything but…and rather like just another floor of the home.
And upstairs, Greg designed a spacious primary suite, in a private wing of the house, with a bedroom-sized walk-in closet, a large bathroom, and a balcony facing out to the backyard.