It’s over the river and through the woods for Grandma, to the Connecticut home she designed for her daughter.
Written by Krissa Rossbund
Photography by John Bessler
Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
Kimberly and Marc Blair insist that their interior designer, Laura Langworthy, celebrate Christmas with them at their Connecticut home. This crossover relationship, which runs the gamut from professional and client reviewing swatches to interacting as close companions, is only natural. After all, it’s a designer’s job to clearly understand the nuances of a family—how they live, how they entertain, and how they want their home to represent them—almost as if the designer herself was part of the family. The truth is, Langworthy is family—she’s Kimberly’s mother. And to make the spot where the extended family would spend years of gatherings blissful and inviting, she personalized the house with soft details and loads of Christmas charm.
“This particular project was dear to me because it was for my daughter,” Langworthy smiles. “She was the perfect client—a clear communicator and a great collaborator with a willingness to trust her designer mom.”
Relinquishing the design reins to family is something Kimberly and Marc are quite familiar with. Marc’s mother is a designer, too, and created the more formal visual statement for the couple’s apartment in Manhattan. But the Blairs always knew they wanted a second home that boasted a low-key culture that would provide contrast to the frenzy of weekday activity they encounter in New York with their children, Sammy and Charlotte. Washington Depot, Connecticut proved accessible and idyllic with its population of farms and Colonial houses. And an infrastructure of restaurants, shops, and family activities was a giant plus for weekend dwellers. This New England setting deserved a New England designer, so when the Blairs moved into the house in 2005, they turned to Massachusetts-based Langworthy.
With spacious rooms, the 1940s house was intended for gatherings from the get-go, and a 2003 great room addition by the architect who lived there at the time supplied an even more ideal setting for entertaining. Marc and Kimberly honor that tradition of hospitality, especially during the Christmas season when parties both intimate and grand fill the structure with spirited and vivacious sound. Add cheerful holiday vignettes that Langworthy erects in every room—no space is too humble or insignificant to sparkle with holiday magic—and the home is one big festive fantasy.
“Getting this house ready for the holidays is a snap when my mother begins fashioning her decorations that feature all the sentimental objects we’ve collected and the new pieces we add each year from local shops and galleries,” explains Kimberly.
On the front porch, tall topiary trees and benches upholstered in a jolly red fabric welcome visitors with a simple snapshot of the abundant decorations to be found inside. The second receiving space, the entry hall, includes formal elements within its beadboard perimeters: An antique Oriental rug brings warmth to the hardwood floor, while beige-striped silk covers ogee-arched lambrequins at the tops of the windows. “I wanted there to be drama on the windows without covering them completely,” says Langworthy. She adds that since the entry hall looks directly into the living room, she chose a window fabric that could easily transfer to the living room’s design, albeit in a variant style.
The living room itself stands ready for Santa, with the Christmas tree situated next to the fieldstone fireplace. Langworthy enjoys decorating themed Christmas trees, but she believes a designer’s work should never be obvious. The Blairs’ main Christmas tree, for example, features all gold and white ornaments but avoids staginess by using family decorations.
Two sofas—an upholstered beige piece placed in front of the fireplace and a green chenille sofa that sits in the bay—imbue the room with a sense of coziness without sacrificing polish. An armchair in leather and a pair that are paisley-upholstered complete the seating arrangement. A reproduction Soumak rug, rendered in Christmas red, ties the elements together.
Kimberly’s favorite space in the house is the great room addition. A stage for the holiday meals, the spacious room’s dining area is positioned across from the kitchen and contains a 10-foot-long trestle table surrounded by black-painted Windsor chairs. Its blue-and-white color scheme is happily complemented by the Christmas greens she freely uses throughout the season.
Her appreciation for this room, she explains, stems from its generous proportions that allow the Blair family and their friends to all be together and never feel crowded. “Someone can be reading, others playing games, eating, or entertaining guests,” she adds. “There is room for it all.”
The master bedroom, also part of the 2003 addition, delivers a refined palette of ivory and wood tones. A tiger maple pencil post bed is the room’s centerpiece, flanked by wreaths on the windows and its own small Christmas tree.
Whether it’s during the holidays or in less decorated times of the year, the Blairs are happy to live part-time in a home that is stamped with talent from one of their own family members. “This house has become the gathering place for various holiday celebrations, not only for my own family, but for my parents and my brothers, too,” says Kimberly. “It has been wonderful for my mom to pass the hostess torch to me so that I can help create memories for us all.”
Interior designer: Laura Langworthy, Laura Langworthy Interiors, 106 Stewart St., West Newbury, MA 01985; 978/363-8876, llinteriors.com.
Stylist: Liz Kay, 860/805-3931.
Benches (custom): Laura Langworthy Interiors, 978/363-8876, llinteriors.com.
Bench fabric (“Massimo Woven Texture”/Cardinal #BR89508.170, only available in Cream #BR89508.015.0): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880, brunschwig.com.
Hanging lantern: owner’s collection.