Design & Décor, Living with Style, The Newport Diary

Neoclassical Reimagined in Newport

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As in past posts, I’ve kept you updated regarding the ever-interesting goings on in the Newport real estate scene…Clarendon Court, Bois D’Ore’, and Champ Soleil to name a few of the old residences that were built back around the beginning of the twentieth century and are now changing hands. But what of the new homes, particularly those whose owners were fortunate enough to purchase prime locations when they were still available? Like my friend Eileen and husband, Andy, who secured a double water view site overlooking one of Newport’s two large ponds and the Atlantic, just beyond Ocean Drive.

Being one’s own client can pose challenges, but for Eileen Marcuvitz, who has been designing spaces both public (the restaurant at the Boston Public Library) and private for thirty-five years, it was a cinch. Those years have grounded her in what she best describes as, “an affinity for and interpretation of the classical aesthetic…neoclassical reinvented.” You are immediately swept into her brand of chic when you open the front door. The striking three dimensional aspect of the limestone and slate floor in the entry hall is surely a design standout.

Signature pieces of furniture–some antique, some new, some of her own design– are chosen with an unerring eye for line and scale as well as the contribution each will make to a room. Turn left and go up two steps to the dining room, where the sculptural quality of her furniture selection are evidenced by the dining room table, a favorite of Eileen’s. “I had seen a picture of this piece, designed by renowned Art Deco designer Emile Ruhlmann, auctioned at Christie’s and knew that it was perfect for our needs and the space,” she relates. “It’s so graceful yet makes a big statement, with its base that cups and wraps. I had a French furniture maker in New York replicate it for me; you really can combine it with any period.”

The nearly 600 square foot library’s grand, lofty space is capped with a deeply trussed ceiling  and impressive full-height solid limestone fireplace. Scrumptious textures–velvet, chenille, leather, mohair, suede–carry out the warm color palette; a custom-designed Tibetan silk and wool rug in silvery olive announce that this is the room where the family gathers most often. The library is further accentuated by the dramatic height of the windows which guarantee sunlight from dawn to early afternoon, taking advantage of this south-facing exposure (feature image and below).

Overlooking the library, an aerie for afternoon naps and morning coffee includes porthole windows that take in the water views beyond.

The sun’s arc lends its welcome warmth to the small “ladies’ sitting room” off the entry hall, where my favorite piece of furniture makes a grand statement… a rare and curvaceous late 1700s Dutch secretary in zebra wood with marquetry inlay details.

Soft celadons and light sea blues in this room are a perfect introduction to a stroll out to a small secret garden…

where espaliered pears lend their symmetry to soft ochre stucco walls and hydrangea standards form the green wall to this petite space.

Fronting the house on its hillside, the temperamental periwinkle that  wouldn’t  thrive presented Eileen with an opportunity to bring her design talents to her landscape. Adopting those “classical elements” that are her signature (in this case, the circles in the form of balled boxwoods, of all sizes) proved the perfect detail for the terraces of this steep slope. 

Photo Credit: Alexander Nesbitt
Photo Credit: Alexander Nesbitt
Photo Credit: Alexander Nesbitt

And the light purple allium that punctuate this garden in late spring?  Eileen shares that “As I moved through my design career, I would find myself intrigued by purple and kept looking for just the right occasion to use it, especially in unexpected places.”

Photo Credit: Alexander Nesbitt

Purple, or shades of–whether you call it lavender, orchid, periwinkle, or aubergine– works with so many colors, and in unexpected places. In flower arranging, as you know, you use purple to make other colors pop.” As here, with a russet-colored Japanese maple in the background.

Photo Credit: Alexander Nesbitt

I’ll close with a revealing answer to a question for the ages that I once asked Eileen–‘What would you do with one extra hour in the day?” to which she replied, “Appreciate the earth. Newport has so many cues to inspire us to think of nature.”

Photo Credit: Alexander Nesbitt

I’ve so enjoyed bringing you a post on my favorite design combo…gardens and their houses. Looking forward to adding more examples to my Private Newport blog calendar.

All photos credit, Mick Hales, (unless otherwise noted)

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

5 thoughts on “Neoclassical Reimagined in Newport

  1. Thank you for sharing this home. What a marvelously subdued take on a classical design motif. Definitely a modern Newport jewel that blends the new and old with style and grace.

  2. I love the rich, golden, warm and neutral interior colors and textures inside this beautiful home as well as the emerald greens and yellows gracing the outside landscaping. Just beautiful! And that cozy reading nook at the top of the staircase is so inviting. Graceful, peaceful and so inviting; a large space somehow managing to encapsulate the word “cozy” in every room.

    Cheers, Evie

  3. Such a joy to view this garden! How did she get the agapanthus to bloom at the same time?
    Refreshing style for Newport and the landscaping is outrageous! My favorite the standard hydrangeas & espaliered pears! How do you think they would fare in Palm Beach?? XxJane

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