Take a tour of the Greenwich family’s French country house | Architectural Digest

    The fact that Claiborne Swanson Frank lives in a gorgeous French country house decked out with dark gray shutters and set amidst a story garden for her two young children to enjoy is a true testament to the law of attraction. The widely-published photographer and her husband James, who is in finance, spent the formative years of their relationship in Manhattan staying in beautiful but cozy accommodations. After a stint in Los Angeles, where she filmed her book Young Hollywood and the couple welcomed their first son, Hunter, they returned to town to discover they were expecting another child, little brother Wilder. “Before I knew it, we were a lot of people in a small space with a huge golden retriever,” she recalls with a laugh. “As much as I loved New York and always will, I knew time was running out. I remember thinking, ‘If I could be anywhere and do anything, how am I going to raise my kids?’ I kept seeing a house and a garden. I had Pinterest like crazy, and many of my paintings were phrases About French Normandy white brick houses with shutters.”

    In the couple’s search for an enclave near New York City, the focus soon came to Greenwich, Connecticut. “It’s funny because Greenwich is so close to the city but also so far from the world,” says Swanson Frank. They had no family there and hardly knew anyone. “In many ways, it just didn’t make sense. It was a huge leap in faith.” She recalls that the mansion house they found had “beautiful bones, but they haven’t been touched in a while.” “You should have had a vision.” Something she has serendipitously in spades.

    Claiborne Swanson Frank with his son Hunter and King, the family’s Golden Retriever.

    Against 19th-century Italian chairs with Claremont mohair cushions surrounding a dining table that has been given a white Gustave-style finish by Turner & Turner, who also did the floor.

    Of course, setting out the scene and decorating the house are not the same thing. To put it all together, Swanson Frank would need someone with enough sensitivity and talent to respect and promote her vision. She and interior designer Asia Baker-Stokes met as young assistants on Vogue. A swift friendship ensued, and today they both serve as godmothers for one of the other’s children. “I knew I had to work with someone who was really close to me,” says Frank Swanson, “Someone who felt safe exploring and developing my own taste. It was such an intimate process that I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. Asia encouraged me to be honest. With what I really loved and helped in her wonderful way to bring it to life.”

    In the sunroom, sofas wearing an oversized Gaston Y Daniela print surround an antique rattan cocktail table. On the walls, Benjamin Moore and Philip Jeffreys painted raffia.

    coffee table mast in natural wicker; Price upon request. MadeGoods.com

    Trevor Pickart 2020

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    “Mother and Child” by Frank Claiborne Swanson

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    Coral Gable by Benjamin Moore

    The duo started from the outside in. The brick exterior got a fresh coat of white paint, and the shutters were smoothed out to a chic gray inspired by the exterior of connoisseur Bunny Mellon’s New York City home. “We really descended on French Norman architecture, and do it in a modern way for a modern family,” Frank Swanson says. Inside, the heavy wood floors were painted chalk white and decorated with decorative trim that is another nod to Mellon. “The goal was to make the house feel light and airy,” says Baker-Stokes. Glazing gives it a faded, sun-kissed look, along with French doors that run across the back of the house and an abundance of potted plants, creating a sense of freshness inside and out.

    Schumacher’s blue and white stripes line the windows and cushions.

    Hunter (standing) Wilder in the playroom, which was painted to evoke a circus tent. striped cotton curtains by Jane Chilton Textiles; Jonathan Adler rug.

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    Loop Side Chair from Bungalow

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    Swanson Frank’s eye for modern elegance is evident in the décor. The gracious living room hosts an Art Deco sofa, Milo Baughman Parsons chairs, and a linen-wrapped cocktail table. In less capable hands, the mix might read as jumble, but Baker Stokes masterfully united it all with a blue-and-white story (a recurring theme throughout the house) starring one of Braquenié’s beloved independent flowers. “The idea was to make it look like it’s layered over time,” says the designer. Paneling was added to the dining room walls, where the Jansen-black lacquered couple’s table was repainted in a Swedish Gustavian finish to match the floors and trimmed with gold leaf details that mirror the surrounding serpentine chairs. “We’ve reused almost everything I have,” Frank Swanson notes. “I loved seeing how much you can get done with what you have.” She credits her mother-in-law, legendary interiors editor, Cynthia Frank, with advising her “to always buy great pieces because you’ll have them for the rest of your life.” The kitchen was recently renovated, so friends simply replaced the appliances, faucets, and lighting, and pulled it all together with a nice Schumacher bar. Baker Stokes banquette cleverly polished in matte vinyl so any spills can be wiped up with ease. “Nothing is too precious,” she says. “They have two sons and a big dog, so we didn’t want anything to feel like you couldn’t skate somehow.”