Christian Siriano is known for making bold statements. But even for someone who dressed Billy Porter in a tuxedo ballgown for the Oscars, his move from an antique Colonial house to a modernist dwelling with 11-foot-high windows is a rather dramatic one. “I was looking for a full refresh,” the fashion designer and Project Runway mentor says of his architectural 180. “I felt like my life was a little chaotic. The last year or two, I just haven’t stopped—doing shows, collections, collaborations. I was like, I need a break. I wanted something zen and easy.”
He found it in the form of a sleek, airy structure of wood and stucco boxes in the coastal Connecticut town of Westport—a stylistic anomaly in a region known for traditional shingle houses. Designed by RAAD Studio in collaboration with architect Bolek Ryzinski, its location near the beach was part of the draw. (The first such place Siriano bought eight years ago is further inland in Danbury.) “Full vacation mode,” he says of what was intended to be a weekend escape.
Of course, timing is everything. Siriano closed on the house in February, and less than a month later, as Covid-19 sent the country into lockdown, he and his partner, Kyle Smith, a menswear designer, were sheltering there full-time. In the five months since, Siriano has experienced an aha moment. “It’s like another world up here,” he says. “It’s quiet. We’re completely surrounded by nature.” He’s even taken up cooking. “We sit down at the dining table almost every night. It feels like more real life. New Yorkers order food all the time, and watch a show.” The commute to the city is so manageable that he’s now considering downsizing his Manhattan apartment and staying put.
When it came to furnishing, Siriano had already gotten a jump start. “I’m a pretty heavy weekend antiquer,” he says, noting that the garage of his Danbury home served as a storage unit for contemporary design treasures he had amassed over time but previously had no place for. Among them were a pair of teak Danish mid-century chairs and a Pierre Paulin-inspired sofa that “was torn to shreds, so I got it super cheap,” says Siriano. He raided his apartment and office, too. A glass coffee table that had spent five years in his atelier now serves as the centerpiece of his open living room alongside a pair of vintage Mario Bellini for Cassina chairs culled from his apartment.
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The house’s white walls, lofty ceilings, and expansive spaces are the perfect backdrop for his ever-evolving collection. “This architecture just felt like a way to showcase all the things I love, kind of like a gallery space,” he says. “My office is an old 1800s building. I was in all these more period-like settings. I just became obsessed with the idea of light and being surrounded by nature.” So much so that he eschewed curtains throughout. “I want the light,” he declares. “We wake up to it. I was always nervous that modernism wasn’t liveable. I’m trying to make sure it’s still comfortable, that we can still hang out.”
One hobby he’s taken up during quarantine is furniture design. His office plays host to his Lula settee, featuring circular back cushions and a bench base of white bouclé atop triangulated wood legs, and downstairs in the living area there’s a chair with similarly playful geometric proportions. “I like that they look like little dresses or people,” says Siriano. After sharing a glimpse of the settee on his Instagram, he recently received his first commission. “It was fabulous. I just posted a snippet and this interior designer reached out. They’re going to do it at the foot of a bed, which I love. It will be super chic.” His foray into interiors is gaining legs in more ways than one: He is also designing the penthouse suite for the upcoming London Hotel in West Hollywood, where, he says, all of the dining chairs will be his own.
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Muriel Coleman chairs surround an RH table in the dining room. The 1940s console displays a painting by Gee Gee Collins above and is flanked by a pair of 1970s Mackintosh for Cassina chairs. Through the glass doors to the right lies a wine cellar. Frederick Wildman & Sons Italian Fine Wine specialist Sara Maule helped Christian curate the assortment.
In the kitchen, natural wood cabinetry topped with Pietra Cardosa stone lends understated drama. The bar stools are 1950s Frederick Weinberg that Siriano had restored.
The main bathroom, which Siriano says is “bigger than my first apartment in New York,” boasts an oversized soaking tub with views out to the wooded surroundings.
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This story was first published on ArchitecturalDigest.com