These Two Homes Are Conjoined To Create the Ultimate Summer-Winter Hideaway
I’m a maximalist, and I hate empty white walls,” says Ed Tang, a Manhattan-based art adviser, of his aesthetic sensibility. Tang, son of the late fashion mogul and Shanghai Tang founder Sir David Tang, is discussing his design decisions for the pair of 1950s modernist houses that he and his partner share in Litchfield, Connecticut. The couple were introduced to the laid-back, leafy corner of the state two years ago by a friend who thought the art collectors would appreciate the famous 1950 Stillman house, designed by Marcel Breuer, which had recently come on the market. “We just fell in love with it,” Tang recalls, noting that the scale was ideal, as was the opportunity to unpack some of their art and furniture collection from storage. “Immediately we wanted it.”
Which is why when the adjacent property, a pristine 1953 house designed by Breuer’s fellow Harvard Five architect and onetime student John M. Johansen, came up for sale, Tang acted quickly to join the sister buildings, creating a low-slung modernist compound. (The homes had previously been renovated by Joseph Mazzaferro and Ken Sena, who won a Docomomo award for their meticulous and faithful restoration.) Tang and his partner keep both houses open, but the second home, built for the Huvelle family, friends of the Stillmans, now essentially functions as a winter residence, while the four-bedroom Stillman house—the more playful of the two—is where the couple often stay and entertain on summer weekends. A short walk from town, the conjoined properties feel remote, a tucked-away idyll with sun-drenched interiors looking out on the rolling hills and nearby nature preserve. One’s sense of arrival is heightened by the contrast to Litchfield’s broad thoroughfare, lined with imposing white mansions from the mid–19th century, “which look to me, a foreigner, like a complete movie set,” says Tang, who was born in Hong Kong and educated in the U.K.
Once they installed forced air, radiant heat, and delicate outdoor lighting, as well as a new stone wall, the houses were a blank canvas for personalization. And personalize they did, though thoughtfully, making sure to keep comfort always the primary consideration. “We don’t want to be those precious people where you have to use a coaster or wear a towel to sit down somewhere,” Tang says.
The Stillman house—marked by its sliding glass walls, pool, pops of primary colors (the blue paint was sourced from Switzerland), and an iconic ten-by-18-foot Alexander Calder mural—is full of swimsuit-friendly, airy setups, cheerful artwork by the likes of Darren Bader and Richard Prince, and a light marquee by Philippe Parreno.
The Huvelle house, meanwhile, retains a more meditative air. So it makes sense that it’s where the occupants are drawn during the colder months. Here one finds a cozy, book-lined library, as well as photographs by Brassaï and DO NOT EVER WORK, by Rirkrit Tiravanija, a piece that amplifies the serene atmosphere. Deferential to its views of the sloping landscape, the house is the organic yin to Stillman’s carefully composed yang. “I love nature, art, and architecture,” Tang explains,“and all of that is, in a very humble way, distilled in this house.”
Asked if he’s content to make do with the current setup, splitting time between their homes in New York City and Litchfield, Tang takes a moment. “Actually, I would love to have a third home with chintz and wallpaper and pattern-on-pattern—a place where not a single surface is blank,” he says with a laugh.