'I always used to pride myself on living all over the world. You cannot tie me down, I’d say,’ Katherine McConnaughey explains from her Connecticut home. A few years since retiring from a 33-year career as a flight attendant, both she and her husband David, the CEO of a media firm, have finally put down more permanent roots.
‘I’ve planted my great-grandma’s irises and a lilac that was given to me when my dad passed away. These are plants that have always moved with me and now we’re here, we’re never leaving.’
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The couple, who have ‘lived in Manhattan since forever’ and raised their daughter Caroline there, discovered the appeal of the region on visits to friends.
‘We wanted to simplify. It’s incredible how people live out here. They’re so into the outdoors and growing organically,’ Katherine enthuses. ‘This is an area really devoted to conservation and preservation.’
Their original property was a mid-century era home that, no matter how they tried, they just couldn’t get to suit their lifestyle. ‘After three years we put it on the market and it sold in three days,’ Katherine says.
While David was eager to build from scratch, Katherine was less convinced and had she not been in a certain place at a certain time things may have turned out very differently.
‘I was driving down this road and I literally saw the agent put the ‘for sale’ sign out for a 1920s-era riverside farmhouse. A few days later we viewed it.’
While Katherine was enchanted, David was more impressed with the home’s natural surroundings, the wildlife and the opportunity to fish.
‘When he found out a pair of American bald eagles raised their eaglets here yearly, the home became impossible to resist,’ Katherine laughs.
Soon after, the couple moved in and began configuring the house for their lifestyle. Hiring Heide Hendricks of interior design firm Hendricks Churchill was a decision that sparked an extraordinary synchronicity.
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‘It was astonishing how many of Katherine’s images were on my own personal inspiration boards,' Heide explains. 'We were aligned in our vision of what we were attracted to.'
‘I’d never hired a decorator before,' Katherine adds, 'but this was our forever home, so we wanted to get it right. I knew that Heide would give the interior a unique story.’
One of Heide’s triumphs was the overhaul of the basement. ‘The lower level was non-existent. David’s office down there had a dirt floor. We thought we would never use it but now, with a bar and snug where we watch TV, it’s a new portion of the house that’s perfect for entertaining.’
Heide was given strict instructions not to obstruct the windows. ‘I was very aware that the interior must not upstage the view,’ she explains.
‘Katherine and David are big nature lovers, so bringing in jute, cowhide and raw linen was right up their alley. But I also loved placing all their belongings, collected over the years,’ she adds.
The office space was once a basement with a dirt floor, now it has areas for work and contemplation.
Heide’s instinct for pale and nuanced paint colours contributed to the period tone, with the high-gloss ceiling of the basement reflecting the light and bringing movement from the water.
The breakfast area
A French-style bistro table and button-back sofa make a relaxed nook to enjoy morning coffee.
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The dining room
This pared-back scheme places emphasis on the organic shape of the chandelier and the natural beauty of wood and woven materials.
The house had been renovated a few years prior, but the couple decided to create a new entryway and, with the river curving around the house, make more of a feature of the old screened-off porch as well as creating plenty of book storage.
The shiplap cladding in the mudroom strikes a traditional and rustic mood, while built-in cabinetry conceals coats and outdoor equipment.
The master bedroom
Soft blue gray walls give the master bedroom a soothing quality which never feels dull, thanks to the light flooding in from all of the windows.
Inherited duck-print curtains were requisitioned and made into this striking headboard. The gray and orange cushions echo the colours in the print.
The twin room
In this low-ceilinged space, Heide opted for a dark, atmospheric paint colour that would turn the room into a ‘cozy cave’.
‘Heide has joined both of our identities so beautifully,’ Katherine concludes. ‘There’s so much of our shared family history here. I’ve never felt happier or more at home.’