How one designer's family home became a sanctuary – its light, calm spaces are key

The key ingredients in a designer's own home: light, space, calm, and wow-factor style – here's how it's done

kitchen with marble faced island and wooden beam with white lustre tile backsplash
(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

What do interior designers create when designing their own home? Do they push the boundaries with new ideas? And are they as stylish as we'd expect, or is it a case of pulling rooms together in a hurry while spending all their time on clients' designs? 

Well, the interior designer-owner of this modern farmhouse in Westport, CT, one of the world's best homes, certainly put her all into its renovation. And yes, the interiors are every bit as stylish as you'd expect from one half of a powerhouse design duo. 

It's the home of Kristin Fine who together with Analisse Taft-Gersten co-founded The 1818 Collective, an unique design community hub and retail concept with hospitality spaces and a place for designers, artisans and anyone interested in the world of interiors to find inspiration. Fine bought and renovated this home during the first five months of the Covid-19 pandemic. A small section of it dates back to the 1800s, the remainder had previously been renovated in 2000. 

'We saw this house had great potential for a beautifully light and airy calm atmosphere but it was full of old wood and floors that had seen better days making it a bit dark and dated,' says Fine. 'The location was superb and being near the water  greenery grew easily and abundantly. So the home design sprung from bringing in the light and strengthening the connection between inside and out.'  

And following a full redesign, the property does exactly that. The designer Kristin Fine gave us a tour, highlighting her favorite spaces. 

entryway with white walls large artwork antique pedestal table and cube bench seats

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

Fine's entryway ideas make a strong and lasting first impression with a mix of antiques, contemporary art and classic furniture. 

The designer's home showcases artworks of all kinds, and the large painting here in the entryway is by Ena Swansea, the smaller by Linda Matalon. Hide carpet from Roseemary Hallgarten; benches from Egg Collective in Dedar fabric;  candlesticks by Ted Meuhling; vintage table from The 1818 Collective. 

dining room with white walls and wooden beam and wooden table with black chairs

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

The standout pieces in the dining room are the unusually shaped Giancarlo Valle Fin chairs. Paired with a long refectory style dining table in a paler wood, they make a strong design statement among the inspiring dining room ideas in this space. A vintage rug frames the seating space and leads the eye to the French windows onto the garden. 

'The outside spaces were very important as we opened up the views to include them as an asset and part of the interiors for the whole house,' says designer Kristin Fine. 'We loaded up as many green plantings as we could… roses, new trees and flowering bushes and let the existing wisteria run wild.'

Kristin Fine, left, and Analisse Taft-Gersten of The 1818 Collective
Kristin Fine

One of the co-founders of The 1818 Collective, with Analisse Taft-Gersten, interior designer, Kristin (pictured left) always strives to integrate the design of homes into their surroundings and to work with human scale. She creates soulful spaces and homes that represent their inhabitants, integrating art and taking into consideration the importance of balance, proportion and timelessness.  

living room with white walls and dark sofa and wooden console table wooden beam

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

Fine's living room ideas for this previously tired, dark and dated space were all about bringing in the light. White Dove paint from Benjamin Moore provided the bright backdrop, with a custom sofa from Wyeth providing the comfort. 

Other key pieces include: vintage ceiling fixture by Paavo Tynell, 1stDibs. Lamps: vintage Josef Frank, Galerie Half. Sculpture: Suddenly So Strange by Klara Kristalova. Long bench: 18th-century Swedish, Galerie Provenance. Vintage accessories and stool: The 1818 Collective. Rug: Woven. Upholstered chair: Monc XIII.  Plasterwork: Kamp Studios. 

living room with white walls and white wingback armchair

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

An smart wingback occasional chair provides additional seating space at one end of the dining table, paired with a striking sculptural side table.  

dining nook with white walls and banquette seating black chairs round white table with tubular steel base

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

Anyone looking for relaxed eat-in kitchen ideas take note of this family dining nook. Set around a white retro-style table, with tubular steel pedestal, an upholstered banquette from The 1818 Collective, in Dedar fabric, offers leafy views under an existing ceiling beam. Chairs, Giancarlo Valle, vintage stool, The 1818 Collective. 

kitchen with marble island and white lustre backsplash and wooden beam

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

It's easy to see why interior designer Kristin Fine says, 'My favorite room is probably the kitchen, and it functions as beautifully as it looks.' Kitchen ideas feature a soft palette of warm whites, pale greens and pale wood tones helps to foster an air of calm and relaxation in this otherwise busy family room.  

Key pieces include: zellige wall tile by Clé Tile, Calacatta Vagli from ABC Stone on the counters, and vintage opaline pendants from The 1818 Collective. Paint: White Dove, Benjamin Moore. Flush mounts: Y  Lighting. Stools: vintage, BK Antiques, in Pierre Frey fabric.Hood: custom in Kamp Studios plaster. Range: BlueStar. Refrigerator: Sub-Zero.  

kitchen bench with wooden coffee table white walls

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

This charming seating area fills another corner in the spacious kitchen, with a Monc XIII bench and Casa Ahorita shearling pillow. Vintage coffee table and vintage rug from Plain Goods. Console, Rooms Studio, The Future Perfect. Artworks by Yoshiaki Mochizuki (near wall) and Linda Matalon (far wall). Sconce, Apparatus. Flush mounts, Y Lighting.  

office with fireplace and bookcases and patterned sofa and old beams

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

The home office is in the oldest section of the home, dating from the 1800s, and the characterful brick fireplace and timbered walls reference this earlier period. Key to Fine's home office ideas was the feeling of a welcoming, cozy space, so including a comfortable sofa facing the fireplace was a must. 

Chandelier: Y Lighting. Pendants: vintage. Armchair: Cassina. Striped pillow: Home Union. Stool: Reinaldo Sanguino, The Future Perfect. Custom sofa, The 1818 Collective, in Dedar fabric. Desk: Atelier de Troupe. Paint: Pale Oak, Benjamin Moore  

bedroom with warm white walls blush upholstered bed and throw and bronze sculpture above

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

Keeping to a soft palette of warm whites and blush tones, designer Fine's bedroom ideas for the main bedroom are all about maximizing the light and refreshing the previously dated décor. Contour #4, a bronze sculpture by Tania Pérez Córdova, crowns a bed from The 1818 Collective. Sconce: Garde. Drawing: Merlin James. Nightstand: custom, Antony Todd. Lamp: vintage Murano. Bedding: Society Limonta (linens); Hermès (blanket).  

bathroom white walls relief sculptural artwork and two pedestal stools

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

Bathroom ideas in the spacious main bathroom include a large vintage mirror from Bungalow, faucet from Waterworks and wall sconces from Dimore Studio. The plaster cabinets are from Kamp Studio. Two sculptural stools, and a relief artwork provide interesting focal points. 

powder room with black and white horizontal striped walls and black marble basin

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

If you're looking for inspiration and small powder room ideas, designer Kristin Fine's downstairs powder room oozes style and plenty of character. The showstopper pieces are the custom Eskayel wallcovering, along with a custom marble sink from The 1818 Collective. Mirror: vintage, Wynsum Antiques & Interiors. Faucet: Waterworks.  Art: Snowflake by Wilson Bentley. Towel: Jenni Kayne. Vase: Vintage The 1818  Collective. 

Designer: Kristin Fine The 1818 Collective
Photographer: Nicole Franzen

Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.