Benjamin Moore paint colors the kitchen cabinets. Backsplash of Mercury Mosaics tile.

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Zellige Fired Opal Square Tile

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Benjamin Moore Blue Belle Island Paint

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Pink Egg Cup by Late Afternoon

It came when my mother passed by a vacant building in northwest Connecticut. Once a boarding school in a bucolic country village, the brick house and stucco barn had long stood empty on a slim plot of land. To anyone else, it would have looked like an endless headache without much garden, but to my parents it was endless possibility. Through a series of too-good-to-be-true coincidences, it came into our family’s possession, and this compound has become the most lasting landmark of our family, an ode to our eccentricities and to our bonds, which are packed as tight as we were in that loft on lower Broadway.

I grew up and I did, in fact, move out, but I didn’t keep my promise to myself to find a solid base. I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, back to Manhattan, back to Brooklyn, to another place in Brooklyn, to another place in Brooklyn, then back to Manhattan to an apartment I loved, and then into another that I never saw when the pandemic kept me on a whole different continent for nearly a year. I didn’t understand, back then, that we don’t just move because we’re looking for something better. We move because life happens, in ways both heartbreaking and mundane. Sometimes it’s noisy neighbors, sometimes it’s crippling heartbreak, and sometimes it’s because the rent is too damned high.

Still, I wanted permanence, a sense that I lived in a monument—if not to the family I hadn’t yet made, then to the one that had made me. And so, my family undertook their most maddening real estate project yet: building my house in their Connecticut backyard.

John Derian’s Rose wallpaper envelops the guest room. 1960s painted Italian bed with mattress and pillow of a Clarence House fabric. 

John Newman

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FL/Y Pendant Lamp by Ferruccio Laviani

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Saved New York Zig Zag Blanket

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Ceiling Lamp by Ingo Maurer

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John Derian The Rose Sepia Wallpaper

It was a veritable Suicide Squad of characters: our friend and longtime architect David Bers, a subtle genius with swagger to spare; Rick McCue, the contractor of few words but many skills who had brought all our other Connecticut dreams to fruition; my father, himself an aesthete with his own way of doing things, working with David and Rick to project-manage; my mother, using her passion for color, texture, and—as she calls them—objets. And me, pulling up the rear, a.k.a. sending helpful texts like “CAN WE PAINT THE HOUSE PINK AND ADD CIRCULAR WINDOWS SO IT LOOKS LIKE I LIVE IN A STRAWBERRY!?” (The answer was a firm no.)

By OngkyF