Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Same House, Same Owners, Different Decorators

The renovated Greenwich, Connecticut
  home of Allison and Warren Kanders
 as it appeared in Architectural Digest, 2001.
In 1997, Warren Kanders bought a handsome Colonial Revival house in Greenwich, Connecticut, that was featured in an Architectural Digest article from 200l.  Allison Smith had quit her job as a coordinator at Comedy Central and they married at the Metropolitan Club in New York City in June, 1998.  Warren Kanders is the Executive Chairman of Black Diamond, Inc., a company that manufactures and supplies armored military vehicles as well as other safety products for defense, homeland security, and commercial markets;  He is also President of Kanders & Company, Inc., a private investment firm.  In addition, since 2011 he has owned, in partnership with hotel investor Alan Kanders, the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut (a John Tackett Design project with Mariette Himes Gomez for the original owners to be featured in a future post).

Homeowners Warren and Allison Kanders
with their son William in the 2001 issue of
Architectural Digest.
Working with architect Oliver Cope  to extensively renovate and expand the house, Mica Ertegun of MAC II was hired as interior designer with the results featured in Architectural Digest in 2001.  Now, the house has been published in Architectural Digest again, still with the Kanderses as the clients, but with interiors redone by Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem Associates.  Warren Kanders is now on the Board of the Whitney Museum and the homeowners wanted contemporary art to play a larger part in the décor.  The aspect that interests The Devoted Classicist is that he would not have been sure which pictures were from a 1990s design and which were from a concept 12 to 15 years later.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, just interesting.

Mica Ertegun (left) who designed the interiors in 2001,
and Joe Nahem (right) who redesigned the interiors in 2013.
Take a comparative look, room by room, and see what you think, Devoted Reader.  The text in the article stated that the owners now wanted a "Cutting Edge" interior to compliment their contemporary art collection.

The rear of the Kander home in Greenwich
as it appeared in Architectural Digest, 2001.
The landscape was done by Peter Cummin and Claudia Levy of Cummin Associates in Stonington, Connecticut, one of the most respected landscape architecture firms in the country.

The Entrance Hall as decorated by
Mica Ertegun, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Entrance Hall decorated by Joe Nahem
as it appears in 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates
In the Entrance Hall, the flooring is wood with insets of tile painted to resemble sandstone, according to the magazine text, reminiscent of Bill Blass's Sutton Place apartment Entrance Hall floor (a project MAC II was associated with).  The sconces and Irish mirror are replaced with art and the lantern is replaced with a contemporary glass dish.  The new chairs flanking the fireplace appear to be contemporary versions of a classic klismos model.  The 1920s table by the windows remains.

The Living Room, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Living Room, 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates.
In the Living Room, traditional furnishings are mostly replaced with intentionally independent pieces giving allusions to different Twentieth Century movements to compliment the contemporary art.

The Dining Room, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Dining Room, 2013.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The walls of the Dining Room remain with a dark glaze although in a different color, but the furnishings are artisan-made rather than antiques.  The Nordic chandelier from the Chateau de Groussay auction is replaced with a specially made hanging light by David Wiseman.  Fox-Nahem designed the table and chairs with replace the antique Irish table and the northern European versions of Louis XVI chairs with custom stenciled fabric (also from the Bill Blass apartment).

The Bar, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Bar, 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates.
A room off the Gallery that has a full bar is referred to as the Bar.  It changed from neutral warm with some antiques to neutral cool with all contemporary furniture.

Master Bedroom, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
Master Bedroom, 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates.
Master Bedroom, 2013.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Master Bedroom also changed from warm traditional neutral to cool contemporary neutral.  Of particular note is the custom made bed fabricated from Corian.

Allison Kanders, 2013,
in her Fox-Nahem living room.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
According to The New York Observer, the Kanderses have bought a $17.8 million Manhattan townhouse at 16 West 12th Street and are relocating from Greenwich, Connecticut, to Greenwich Village.  Whether or not they will keep both as a Town and Country arrangement, it is not known.  In any case, the 'before' photos of the townhouse and the floor plans may be seen on the Observer link;  perhaps the 'after' will appear in Architectural Digest in the future.

30 comments:

  1. In my opinion, the overtly puffed furniture in this recent update is too much and overpowers the room and the art. The dining room is especially disturbing now.

    Why is it that folks are afraid to mix antique and traditional furniture with contemporary art? The art would have stood a better chance with most of the original 2001 decor and furnishings. But now all the art comes off as an afterthought--playing the wallflower role to the all too puffy massive furniture.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Patsy Ann, I could not agree more. Certainly everyone is entitled to his own opinion. And far be it from me to discourage major re-decoration as the interior design (and architecture) market has suffered enough.

      But since you mentioned the Dining Room, wouldn't it have been lovely with just a switch to contemporary art, if that introduction was the program?

      Thank you for your comments.

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  2. Over at Old Long Island, the commenters often have deprecating things to say about what new owners have done to once great interiors.

    That doesn't work here, does it?

    (Three cheers for Mica Ertegun.)

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    Replies
    1. The Ancient, while I must agree that the photos for real estate listings today of the great Long Island houses for sale are mostly shockingly bad, a lot has to do with the photographer. For magazine shoots, sometimes there is an editor, a stylist, borrowed furniture and art (be suspicious if there is an on-page credit for a vendor), plus thousands of dollars of flowers. Snapshots can be cruel, and good design is good design, but never underestimate a talented photographer.

      Yes, kudos to Mica Ertegun. Thank you for commenting.

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  3. Great piece John, can't wait to see your upcoming post on the Inn you worked on with MHG. I always enjoy the latest from TDC...and JTD -

    Dean

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    1. Thanks, Dean. I appreciate your commenting.

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  4. Philippe Hiquily, Giacometti and Wiseman...nice choices...but really meant to accent a room rather than BE a focal point. What is with everyone looking to be the same, buying the same, hanging the same...treating Interiors as if from a Modern MidCentury housed within a Tudor, Spanish, Italian or Georgian exterior...the disconnect is SHARP and SCHIZOPHRENIC.

    Modernism should be infused with panache to BLEND and not scream LOOK AT ME...no one seems to master the Art of Layering any longer, Classic is OUT, even when the exterior is profoundly NOT Modern..the desire for HIP overrides ELEGANCE.

    It all becomes very much the lobby of the Mark Hotel...speaking of hotels. Sad what happened as well at the Bel Air Hotel. I didn't see a Line Vautrin mirror over the Foyer chimney...would've looked CHIC!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Swan, I agree. Fine Art should not have to compete with Look At Me furniture, in my opinion. I do appreciate furniture made especially for a room, however, but that might make me more critical in this situation. There is nothing worse than You-Could-Have-Anything-Made-And-This-Is-What-You-Ended-Up-With furniture, is there? Thanks for your comments.

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  5. I saw the story AD and found it jaw dropping. What was once an appropriately-furnished Colonial Revival house has been jack hammered into "modernity" with a lot of ugly and uncomfortable-looking stuff that makes it appear about as welcoming as a bus station, albeit a very expensive one. I know I'm a traditionalist (as my own house seen in the same issue of AD attests), but it's not just that I'm a stuck-in-the-mud, cranky fuddy-duddy. I'm all for "modern" interiors, but I think they should be contextual to the architecture of the building in which they exist, instead of fighting it, which I believe is the case here. I shudder to think what will become of the Washington Inn, which to my mind could certainly have used less of the the vintage riding boots in the stair hall Ralph Lauren look that it sported when I visited it a decade or so ago, but will not carry off a super modern revamp, either. Reggie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reggie - and Toby - I think it is certainly fine to have edgy contemporary art in a traditional house. And I think it is o.k. to custom designed contemporary furniture in a traditional house. It really takes a sure hand to pull off all together, however.

      I would have liked to come across the Tag Sale where they dumped the MAC II furniture!

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  6. Replies
    1. Columnist, you are a gentleman and I appreciate your omitting expletives. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. I think both version look soul-less but the most current version looks soul-less and try hard.There is no sign of life in this house, does anyone actually live there?

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    Replies
    1. Bumble, to be fair, I did not include some areas of the house because there were not comparative photos for both eras. While I don't care for Pipe-And-Slippers photos that make the viewer seem like a peeper, I acknowledge that it can be a challenge to make rooms appear hospitable if in fact they are seldom used. I appreciate your comment.

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  8. Why would anyone do this? I understand wanting a change, but this? I understand wanting some contemporary pieces, but that chair in the living room is one step removed from a bean bag. Let's not even get started on the flying saucer light fixture in the foyer which needs to head home to Mars. This design project is just wrong on so many levels, and even as a fan of contemporary interiors I find this completely unappealing. A mix of some of their previous furnishings with new fabrics and the contemporary art would have been so much better. I hope that furniture is still in the attic for the next design project, and hopefully there will be a next one soon rather than later.

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    Replies
    1. Leigh, yes it does appear to be a variation on a bean bag chair, doesn't it? Thanks for commenting.

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    2. John, it's like a train wreck. I had to return for a second look, and this time noticed the bed. Is it a nod to Vegas? And does it revolve or maybe even vibrate? And the tree branch chandelier with those dongle things. It looks like a DIY craft project. I don't normally comment, but I just couldn't help myself. This gives new meaning to the notion that art is meant to disturb. Only it's not the art that's disturbing. Well, not entirely. Do you think they decided to buy all of the contemporary furnishings in advance of buying the townhouse in the Village? I actually like the terrace of the new townhouse. I thought at first that the bedroom wall was white-washed brick till I read that it was chinoiserie wallpaper? I need to have my glasses adjusted. I'll stop now before I see something else.

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  9. A Devoted ReaderMay 29, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    As for the quote, supposedly by Sister Parish, in reference to the partners of MAC II in the link you gave for Mica Ertegun, do you think, in your opinion, it is in code?

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  10. "Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern; one is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly."

    Oscar Wilde

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    1. Toby, you can always be counted on for a note of literary distinction. Thanks for commenting and sharing these true words.

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  11. At first I thought this was parody; alas, no.

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    1. As anyone who has ever searched through Google images knows, it is easy to misinterperate photo associations. For that reason, I am careful about putting up photos that might appear contrary to the philosophy of this blog. But a good 'Then' and 'Now' is hard to pass up. Thank you for commenting, Thomas.

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  12. As the French would say...affreux! I can't believe anyone in their right mind would pay for that redecoration.

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    Replies
    1. J., sometimes a client feels that a change in art requires a change in décor. With apologies for taking so long to reply, but the current post "Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza at Daylesford" is a great example of the opposite.

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  13. It takes a sure eye and hand to keep modern interiors from looking like lobbies or medical offices. This says dental office.

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    1. M.B., my dentist happens to have a very spiffy office, but I know what you mean. Many thanks for commenting.

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  14. Why is it that people are so lost that they cannot define themselves as to a sense of taste and style and stick with it? How do you go from that beauty of a Mica E. interior to that sad mess of a current underwhelming installation? What happened to the people who knew how beautiful that original job was in the ten years since that has prompted them to do that schlock? Were they driven by mere trend and word of mouth? Infatuation with a handsome salesperson-sorry untalented salesperson? Or did they never know and still don't. Was it insecurity or just plain boredom that possibly drove this decision? Sad and disappointing sort of-but seems so very de rigeur these days. Maybe it was for the spectacle and the shock value they chose to republish this house.

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    Replies
    1. All of your points are valid. If I knew why so many clients choose a decorator/designer/architect/salesperson that seems to be the wrong choice, I would be able to write a best-seller on the design business. I appreciate your commenting.

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