October 2022

at home

Tell us about how you got started with your design business.
Christine Stucker:
We started dating, and I was just on my way out of one corporate design job and searching for another. James suggested I take a break and go travel with him for a few months. While we were traveling, we decided to start our own firm, and almost immediately we landed a huge retail job. We grew organically and moved from designing retail stores into residential design. Having the network of fabricators and vendors from building out large retails stores has really given us an edge in residential.

How did you find this house?
We’d been searching—casually looking—for three years. We were heavily focused on New Canaan; this style of home is much more common there. We knew nothing about Easton, but I had this search set up to get an alert when anything remotely like this aesthetic came on the market.As soon I saw this listing come up, I showed it to James, who flipped out.We called the realtor to make an appointment for the following day, and she thought we were out of our minds.

James Veal: We were coming from Brooklyn, where we had bought homes before, and the environment there is cutthroat and crazy.
CS: We knew immediately after walking through the front door. We didn’t even need to speak; I already knew we’d be moving in. We made an offer on the spot and asked them to remove it from the market. It all got wrapped up pretty quickly. We knew the value of this house, and it wasn’t something we could recreate.

What is the history of the house?
The original owners built this house in 1984 with an architect fromCalifornia. They’re a family with a daughter who has MS. The reason there are so many decks is because they wanted her to be able to go outside in the wheelchair. There’s an indoor pool because the wife—who was a physical therapist—did her therapy here. They really didn’t spare any details. They put so much love into this house. We’ve made changes, but we’ve only tried to enhance the original home. We’re the third owners, and it’s a special house.
JV: It’s always nice when find a home that was built as somebody’s dream home versus something designed by a developer.
CS: You have to have a lot of love for a house like this. My mom says this house is James’ one true love (laughs), but it’s truly a labor of love. All the glass has to be replaced at some point. The exterior has be painted and dealt with regularly. We’ve done an extensive amount to the house already.

What were some of the changes you made?
The first thing we did was replace the windows.
JV: As far as design changes, the family room was a big one, the kitchen was a big one. All the exterior, resurfacing the decking and replacing the rails; lighting in the kitchen. We redid the whole front of the house.
CS: The kitchen was a massive change. It had black granite and this glass blue tile backsplash, and brown faux marble floor. We kept the original cabinets and custom hand-rolled stainless steel counters. Being a designer I’d never considered doing that, because it seemed so commercial, but I didn’t realize how expensive it is. Even though aesthetically it’s not my first choice, I knew we couldn’t rip it out. We made it better, changed a lot of details, but the important things that were original we kept and worked with.

JV: When we bought it, we talked about ripping down walls, redoing the whole kitchen, but we’re also purists and saw the value in so much that was already here. The woodwork is so well made, it’s still in perfect condition. It’s a testament to good cabinetry and using good tradespeople.The appliances were top of the line at the time, but they’re all still relevant.The family room was also a big change. It was big and empty, and we weren’t really sure what to do with it. It took us a year to decide what we wanted. We needed a playroom, but we also wanted a room to watch TV and have a true family room where we could all hang out. We’re always in there.

In terms of furnishing the house, did you bring pieces from Brooklyn or start fresh?
We added rugs, the coffee table, the dining table, the outdoor furniture. A lot of the furniture we had, and it was an easy transition. The house has such a strong aesthetic on its own, it was easy to furnish and fill in what was missing.

Where do you spend the most time?
Probably the kitchen.
JV: We both cook. I think the kitchen is the always the heart of everyhome. In the winter, the family room has a great European fireplace, andwe like to spend time there.
CS: We really use the whole house.

What do you love about this house?
It’s inspired us to some degree in our designs. I didn’t realize it until we looked at some recent projects, and we can see certain elements from the house. Homes like this are just testaments to good design. This house will still be relevant in fifty years, as it is. It’s great for us as designers, to have a home that speaks to that idea.
CS: I find myself sitting in different places and seeing different views, and architecturally, it’s just a really well-thought-out space. It made it easy for us to add that layer on top and really polish that.

What would you say is your design aesthetic?
In terms of our aesthetic, I would say we are purists. We love to workin all genres and bring each environment back to its simplest form. This allows you a focus on the space itself, and then we add layers of curated furnishings to reflect the homeowners’ personality. Each project we work on is unique, just as each client differs from another. We love to find the“story” the space wants to tell and bring it to life.

What’s your design process as a couple who live and work together?CS: We only have one rule in our business: We both have to agree.
JV: Often we bump heads, but if one of us feels strongly, we have to convince the other of our idea. We get frustrated, but sometimes the best stuff we come up with is because we fought it out.

CS: You have to be really passionate about what it is you’re arguing for.

Tell us about the cabin.
When we visited the house for the first time, we saw that there was a red barn, and the realtor just told us to ignore it. The doors had not been opened in six years. I don’t think the previous owners realized that it had plumbing, electric, and a kitchen and toilet set up. The original owners built it for their daughter so she could have her own space. Again, it took us a year to determine what we wanted to do with it. We ended up gutting it and resurfacing everything. It’s so cozy and a different vibe to the main house. It feels Scandinavian with pine and white floors.When family or friends come, they stay there.