Living Well in Litchfield County, Connecticut

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Mid-Century Mod! 

Mid-Century Mod! 

Pop! Pow! Blam!

A Jazzy Vibe Warms up a Mid-Century Modern Aerie

By Cynthia Hochswender

Photos by Laura Moss Photography

Picture homeowner Bob Wolfe in a rakishly tipped fedora, shaking cocktails at a stylish bar while his lovely blonde wife, Laurie, greets guests warmly at the door. Jazz music plays in the background, completing the swingy vibe of a mid-century modern house that’s been decorated with a “Fly Me to the Moon” aesthetic.

Bob and Laurie are, in fact, quiet country-folk who love hiking, playing tennis, cycling, fly-fishing, and looking at the views of Steep Rock Preserve from the wall of windows in their mountaintop Washington home, and (above all) watching the sun rise and set through their windows. “We’ve seen more sunrises since we moved to this house than in the entire rest of our lives,” Bob says. 

The diurnal rhythms of life were not really a part of the Wolfes’ lives in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and other spots where their work took them over the years. 

“In New York City, even on the 25th floor we’d hear sirens and motorcycles,” Bob says. “Here on top of the mountain, we hear nothing but crickets, birds, and cows.”

The house they fell in love with is a 1960s classic. Not everyone realizes that Litchfield County was home to Bauhaus star Marcel Breuer; the Wolfes’ home definitely pays homage to that clean-lined, angular history. 

But for the furnishings, Laurie says, “I wanted to do something fun.” 

And she wanted to do it fast, giving designer Karen Davis of Davis Raines Design in New Preston a mere few months to pull together a renovation of the lower level, all new furnishings, and room after room of wallpaper.

“We have a great wallpaper hanger here in Washington named David DeVos,” confides Davis, sharing a cherished trade secret. DeVos put wallpaper in the house’s four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and two powder rooms, as well as a lounge area near the kitchen. Some of the papers are from the historic Swedish design firm Borastapeter; others are from The Vale London; one is a graphic historic wallpaper by Modernist icon Arne Jacobsen, called Trapez 1778. “It’s almost like having fabric on the walls,” Laurie Wolfe says of the wallpaper choices. “It’s dramatic, but soft.”

Adding more pop to the clean lines of the circa 1960s house is sculptural lighting that Davis and Wolfe chose together. For furnishings, rather than go for vintage pieces, Davis was able to find period-appropriate modern furnishings from companies such as Interlude Home—which was the source for the jazzy stools in Bob’s bar area.

“I really wanted a custom bar in the living room,” he says. “I’m a cocktail guy.”

The bar is just one element of a house that, despite its austere antecedents, is warm and welcoming—perfect for a town like Washington, that might feel cool and upscale but is in fact uncommonly friendly.

“We’ve only been here a short while and we’ve met so many wonderful people,” Laurie says. Davis isn’t surprised. “They were really a delight to work with,” she says of the Wolfes.

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    Karen Raines Davis