Inside, the 1980s house was as full of potential as it was devoid of character. "It had a very open layout, high ceilings, and lots of windows looking out onto this amazing bucolic setting. The structure itself was sound," says Thuy. What was needed was character—and interior designer Eric Lysdahl.

Both avid readers, Thuy and Mitch agreed they needed the living room to function as a library. "When Mitch and I got together, we didn’t have the usual couple’s difficulty of sharing closet space," says Thuy. "Our challenge was sharing library space." To give them the library they needed, Lysdahl used old Cuban mahogany paneling reclaimed from a 19th-century Connecticut estate to transform the long white rectangle of a living room into a library/living room.

Sources:
Millwork: Statham Woodwork, 203/831-0629.
Ceiling moldings: Focal Point Architectural Products, focalpointap.com.
Chandelier ("Napoleon’’ #1024) Panache Designs, 310/659-1700, panache-designs.com, trade only.
Sconces:  Vaughan Designs, 212/319-7070, vaughandesigns.com, trade only.
Sisal carpet ("Natura’’): Stark Carpet Corp., 212/752-9000, starkcarpet.com, trade only.
Sofa ("American’’): Andrew Martin Ltd., 212/688-4498, andrewmartin.co.uk.
Sofa fabric ("Cricket Silk Canvas’’ #19380): Kravet, 888/457-2838, kravet.com, trade only.
Sofa pillow with Greek key trim ("Stoddard’’ #36205M-003): Scalamandré, 800/932-4361, scalamandre.com, trade only.
Trim ("Aristotle Greek Key’’ #977-33661): Samuel & Sons, 212/704-8000, trade only.
Diamond pillow (discontinued): Kravet, 888/457-2838, trade only.
Cocktail tables ("Alexandre Stool’’ #6300B by Jacques Garcia): Baker, 800/592-2537.
Armchairs with serpent arms: John Rosselli & Assoc., 212/593-2060.
Fabric ("Charleston’’): Bergamo Fabrics, 914/665-0800.
Side tables: The Antique & Artisan Center, 203/327-6022.
Table lamps: The Accessory Store, 203/327-7128.
Fabrication: David Laureano, 212/717-5121.
Cocktail ottoman: custom.
Ottoman fabric ("Cavallini’’): Edelman Leather, 800/886-8339, edelmanleather.com, trade only.
Painting (antique): owner’s collection.
Paneling (recycled antique mahogany): milled and installed by Stratham Woodwork, 203/831-0629.

 

The beautiful old mahogany in the living room/library was outfitted with enough shelves to accommodate both homeowners’ books. "Eric also created conversation areas and included a writing desk so that we can use the room every day as both a library and a living area," explains Thuy. "We didn’t want a formal room behind closed doors that would only be used when we had guests."

As a tabula rasa, the home was a designer’s dream. Lysdahl was free to decorate not only with furnishings and fabrics but with new flooring, millwork, and other architectural details. He also designed an all-new kitchen and baths. "It was a blank slate," he says. "With no redeeming interior architectural features to start with, I was able to do a complete renovation that included drawing all interior moldings, millwork, and ceiling details."

Sources:
Millwork: Statham Woodwork, 203/831-0629.
Sconce:  Vaughan Designs, 212/319-7070, vaughandesigns.com, trade only.
Sisal carpet ("Natura’’): Stark Carpet Corp., 212/752-9000, starkcarpet.com, trade only.
Sofa ("American’’): Andrew Martin Ltd., 212/688-4498, andrewmartin.co.uk.
Sofa fabric ("Cricket Silk Canvas’’ #19380): Kravet, 888/457-2838, kravet.com, trade only.
Sofa pillow with Greek key trim ("Stoddard’’ #36205M-003): Scalamandré, 800/932-4361, scalamandre.com, trade only.
Trim ("Aristotle Greek Key’’ #977-33661): Samuel & Sons, 212/704-8000, trade only.
Diamond pillow (discontinued): Kravet, 888/457-2838, trade only.
Cocktail table ("Alexandre Stool’’ #6300B by Jacques Garcia): Baker, 800/592-2537.
Armchair with serpent arms: John Rosselli & Assoc., 212/593-2060.
Fabric ("Charleston’’): Bergamo Fabrics, 914/665-0800.
Side table: The Antique & Artisan Center, 203/327-6022.
Table lamp: The Accessory Store, 203/327-7128.
Fabrication: David Laureano, 212/717-5121.
Painting (antique): owner’s collection.
Paneling (recycled antique mahogany): milled and installed by Stratham Woodwork, 203/831-0629.

Without having to knock down walls or reshuffle spaces, Lysdahl added character with architectural detailing. Picture moldings on the walls, a new tumbled limestone floor, and a new staircase banister turn the formerly forgettable entry into a great and enduring first impression.

Sources:
Paint ("Putnam Ivory’’ #HC-39): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Chandelier ("Armillary Chandelier’’): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, trade only.
Settee: owner’s collection.
Settee fabric (discontinued): Kravet, 888/457-2838, trade only.
Stair runner ("Kingston Stria’’): Stark Carpet, 212/752-9000, trade only.
Tall cabinet (antique): The Antique & Artisan Center, 203/327-6022.
Flooring (tumbled limestone): Walker Zanger, 877/611-0199, walkerzanger.com.

The Parisian-style dining room has all the formal flourishes Thuy loves but at the same time is entirely user-friendly—Arielle-friendly, to be specific. Every room, in fact, was designed to be both approachable and durable for the active little girl, who’s now 3.

The dining room is "the most Francophile of the spaces," notes Lysdahl. "Here I was able to go crazy with the ornament. Pilasters, ceiling details, plaster swags, and a Versailles-style parquet floor totally transform what had been a big, sad space." Louis XVI reproductions—the table, chairs, and console table—join a few antiques to keep the room plenty welcoming for Arielle. "Little things like the chairs being painted [instead of a high-maintenance glossy wood finish] ensure that nothing’s too precious," explains Lysdahl. Even the elegant French-blue wall color has a casual subtext. "Both homeowners are serious sailors, and the palette relates to the sea. I used soft blue-grays and pale marine blues combined with sand hues for the palette throughout the house. If you look closely, there’s a sprinkling of seashells here and there."

Sources:
Wall paint above chair rail ("Woodlawn Blue’’ #HC-147); wall paint below chair rail ("Wedgewood Gray’’ #HC-146); pilasters, door and window frames and decorative moldings ("Gray Lake’’ #2138-70): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Flooring ("Marie Antoinette’’ in Rustic Walnut): Hoboken Floors, out of business.
Moldings: Focal Point Architectural Products, focalpointap.com.
Chandelier, sconces ("Trianon’’): Panache Designs, 310/659-1700, panache-designs.com, trade only.
Dining chairs ("Louis XVI-style’’ #718); console ("Giltwood with Marble Top’’ #30-449G): Julia Gray Ltd., 212/223-4454.
Chair fabric (discontinued): Old World Weavers, 212/355-7186, trade only.
Dining table ("Regent Court’’ #01014-20, Ferguson Copeland); sideboard ("Regent Court Dolphin Foot Credenza’’ #01020-21, Ferguson Copeland): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777, robertallendesign.com, trade only.
Drapery hardware ("Costume Collection’’): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777, robertallendesign.com, trade only.
Drapery ("Monceau Satin Rayure’’/Butter, Blue #34124-5, silk): Clarence House, 800/803-2850, clarencehouse.com, trade only.
Drapery fabrication: David Laureano, 212/717-5121.
Tiered table: Braswell Galleries, 203/327-5101.
China (Royal Worcester): Royal China & Porcelain Cos. Inc., 800/257-7189.
Crystal ("Tommy’’): Cristal Saint-Louis, 800/238-5522.
Silver: Puiforcat through Neiman Marcus, 800/937-9146, puiforcat.com.

A marble-topped console table and gilt mirror are in the Louis XVI style.

Sources:
Mirror over console ("Gilded Age Trumeau’’ #CG1430): KPS Inc., 212/686-7784.
Flooring ("Marie Antoinette’’ in Rustic Walnut): Hoboken Floors, out of business.

When he began the redo, the kitchen was "state-of-the-art 1980s," laughs designer Eric Lysdahl, who worked with a kitchen design company on the makeover.

Kitchen Design: Mollie Rhodes, Kitchens by Deane, 1267 E. Main St., Stamford, CT 06902; 203/327-7008, kitchensbydeane.com.

Sources:
Wall paint ("Shaker Beige’’ #HC-45): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Kitchen design: Mollie Rhodes, Kitchens by Deane, 203/327-7008.
Light fixtures: Klaff’s, 203/866-1603.
Table and chairs: antique.
Cabinetry and finish (custom): Premier Custom-Built Inc., 717/354-3059, premiercb.com.
Main sink and countertops ("Tropical Verniz Granite’’); teak cutting board on island; mahogany desk top: Kitchens By Deane, 203/327-7008.
Island sink (weathered brass) Linkasink, 866/395-8377, linkasink.com.
Faucets (weathered brass): Herbeau Creations of America, 800/547-1608, herbeau.com.
Range top: Wolf Appliance Inc., 800/222-7820.
Oven hood insert: Best by Broan, 800/558-1711, broan.com.
Custom-built hood: Premier Custom-Built Inc., 717/354-3059.
Steam oven: Miele Inc., 800/843-7231, miele.com.
Refrigerator/freezer; wine cooler: Sub-Zero Inc., 800/222-7820.

In the master bedroom, Lysdahl added interest underfoot with a Parisian-style herringbone floor. "The installers were ready to kill me," he recalls. "They had laid the entire floor out the wrong way, and I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no! It has to go lengthwise to have the most impact.’"

Sources:
Flooring ("Chevron,’’ American Cherry): Hoboken Floors, out of business.
Wall paint ("Elmira White’’ #HC-84); trim ("Woodland Snow’’ #2161-70): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Bed (Louis XVI Canopy’’): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, trade only.
Headboard fabric ("Landon Ivory’’ #LA1171-111 by Laura Ashley): Kravet, 888/457-2838, trade only.
Bed linens: Pratesi Linens, 212/288-2315.
Sconces: Foundry Lighting, 212/759-9332.
Nesting tables (Althorp Living History Collection): Theodore Alexander, theodorealexander.com.
Neoclassical plaque: The Antique & Artisans Center, 203/327-6022.
Bench ("Arielle,’’ custom, by Eric Lysdahl): Eric Lysdahl Inc., 212/717-5121.
Bench fabric: Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068, trade only.
Dragonfly pillows ("Libellules’’/Brun, cut velvet #33878-5): Clarence House, 800/803-2850, clarencehouse.com, trade only.
Drapery ("Tabitha’’ #9702); drapery flange ("Silk Sateen’’/Fjord #92916-08): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068, trade only.
Drapery hardware: Fabricant, fabricant.co.uk.
Drapery fabrication: David Laureano, 212/717-5121.
Lamps: The Accessory Store, 203/327-7128.

 

The entire mood of the master bedroom was altered by replacing a boring dark brick fireplace and oak mantel with a white, curvy Rococo French-style mantel and a white firebox with a boxed-in base. "The original fireplace was a nonentity," says Lysdahl.

Sources:
Chaise longues (custom): Eric Lysdahl Inc., 212/717-5121.
Chaise fabric ("Gainsborough Velvet’’): Schumacher, fschumacher.com, trade only.
Demilunes; table between chaise longues: owner’s collection.
Starburst mirror: owner’s collection.

Interior designer Eric Lysdahl

Thuy Tranthi and her three-year-old daughter, Arielle, play at their Connecticut home.

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Total Eclipse

An abandoned Tudor house in Connecticut turns into a fairy tale ending

Written by Candace Ord Manroe
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John Bessler

When Thuy Tranthi and her husband, Mitch Rieder, an oil industry executive, began a search for their first real home, their daughter, Arielle, was just a baby. "We wanted a house close to New York City, where I was working, and had looked at more than 30 houses in Connecticut by the time we saw this one," Thuy (pronounced Twee) explains. "No one had been living here for about five years, and even the broker wasn’t all that impressed with it. Every room was either a rectangular box or a square box." Nonetheless, Thuy and Mitch sensed magic. "We were driving down this long, meandering road, and it was like a curtain lifted. Suddenly we were upon this park-like setting with a pond and this abandoned Tudor house. It was as though we had wandered into some kind of fairy tale," she muses.

Photography: John Bessler

Interior design: Eric Lysdahl, Eric Lysdahl Inc. ASID, 960 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212/717-5121, ericlysdahl.com.
Kitchen design: Mollie Rhodes, Kitchens by Deane, 1267 E. Main St., Stamford, CT 06902; 203/327-7008, kitchensbydeane.com.
Construction: Taconic Builders Inc., 212/929-7811.

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