Something didn’t add up. When Bruce Glickman and Wilson Henley pulled into the drive of a house that had been recommended by their realtor, they found the great views she’d described and the predicted air of desertion: The yard was overgrown and the windows shuttered. But the place was hardly the tear-downer she’d led them to expect. In fact, the 1930s cottage struck them as charming and well-sited—so much so that they fell in love with it on the spot. “It felt like you could be in the Black Forest or Tuscany,” recalls Glickman.
Turns out, they’d taken a wrong turn, and the house they were suddenly determined to buy was not even for sale. Fortunately, their realtor knew the owners, who seldom used it and were easily convinced to let it go. And so began the couple’s fourth weekend-house move in 20 years—all within Connecticut’s Litchfield County.
In the living room of the Connecticut retreat of Bruce Glickman and Wilson Henley, the midcentury furnishings include a Florence Knoll sofa covered in a Quadrille velvet, Harvey Probber armchairs in a Brunschwig & Fils fabric, and T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings slipper chairs; the 1960s cocktail table is by Mastercraft, the mantel is original to the house, the artwork to the left of it is by Jean-Marc Louis, the sconces are by Thomas O’Brien for Visual Comfort, and the rug is from ABC Carpet & Home.
For the last two decades, Glickman and Henley have run Duane, one of Manhattan’s top showrooms, which specializes in midcentury furniture by such masters as Karl Springer, Tommi Parzinger, and James Mont. In 2007, they also created Duane Modern, a line of original handcrafted pieces, including modern-style sofas and buffets inspired by the period’s classic designs. In both their professional and private lives, the pair have often experimented with context and continuity, sometimes with unexpected results.
The master bath’s tub by Sunrise Specialty has fittings by Sigma; the armchair is antique, and the ebonized Louis XVI commode is from Duane; the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl.
When they purchased their previous house, a 1950s Neutra-inspired ranch (which was featured in the August 2007 issue of Elle Decor), they thought it would be the perfect setting for their furniture. Which it was. It just didn’t turn out to be right for them. The couple, who are known for their good-humored repartee, put it this way: “It felt vast, like an airport,” says Henley. “He found it cold,” says Glickman. “It was actually, literally cold!” exclaims Henley.
The modern house was also architecturally unforgiving. “It had such a strict language,” says Glickman. “We used, like, four materials. And everything had to align perfectly. The tolerance was less than one-eighth of an inch.”
In the kitchen, the island has a top of honed Carrara marble, the wall tiles are by Waterworks, the stove is Viking, and the stools are by York Street Studio; the 19th-century Windsor chair is a family heirloom, and the 1920s English pendants are from BK Antiques.
The gabled cottage encouraged a more relaxed and playful approach. Since the house had been stripped of its original architectural features by its previous owners, Glickman and Henley set about restoring its character: They paneled the living room, added distressed-wood beams to the dining room, installed new and vintage windows, and reconfigured rooms and spaces that were tight, impractical, or dark.
In addition to vintage pieces, the pair had also been collecting antiques, which they had used to decorate their former poolhouse in an eclectic style that, for them, was both an experiment and a departure. Those earlier furnishings, too, made the move. “The poolhouse was what gave us the inspiration for this place,” says Henley.
In the dining room, the circa-1960 burl-top table is by Milo Baughman, and vintage T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings chairs are covered in a Romo fabric; the plaster chandelier is from the 1930s, and the oak flooring has been finished with a custom stain.
Glickman and Henley describe their new house as “warm and fuzzy.” Yet such sentimentality does not mean they’ve repudiated the midcentury-modern aesthetic. In one respect, the pair made no change at all to their style: Almost all the furnishings—from Robsjohn-Gibbings slipper chairs to a Milo Baughman burl-top table—were moved from the modernist house to the new one, where they now reside in much more intimate and textured surroundings.
If anything, their move has affirmed the inherent versatility of the period’s best designs, showing how they can elevate and enliven whatever company they keep. “The same furniture looks very, very different here,” says Glickman.
The library’s sofa by Restoration Hardware is covered in a Perennials fabric, the vintage club chairs, upholstered in a Great Plains linen, are from Duane, the cocktail table is Chinese, the circa-1960 chair is by Milo Baughman, and the stool came from the former Manhattan nightclub Moomba; the 18th-century English portrait is a family heirloom, the zebra skin is antique, the blinds are by Hunter Douglas, and the walls are painted in Dragon’s Breath by Benjamin Moore.
Every room in their weekend retreat now has its own distinct character, from the spare and spacious dining room to the richly layered library. “Perhaps it’s a little over-layered,” adds Henley, dryly. “It’s like: Welcome to the library! There’s no place to put a glass down!”
The entry console is 19th-century French oak, the antique bronze dog is by Christophe Fratin, the moose antler mirror is vintage, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Mascarpone.
The men agree that of the two of them, Henley is the better editor. “We’d probably have twice as much stuff if he weren’t,” says Glickman, who took charge of the decorating. “I can see that something is good,” says Henley. “But putting it in place, making it look like this, that’s really Bruce. That’s his gift.”
The couple spend four days a week in Manhattan, where they manage Duane and maintain an apartment, which Glickman describes as “more formal, antique, and urban” than their weekend house. But their social and civic lives take place almost entirely in the country. “We’re community-minded,” says Glickman, noting that Henley is on the boards of several local institutions. “We’ve made this area our home. Most of our good friends are people we’ve met here.”
The guest bedroom’s bed and rug are by Serena & Lily, the chairs are by Duane Modern, the floor lamp is by Arredoluce, and the vintage chest of drawers is by Borge Mogensen.
So pristine is the condition of the Connecticut furnishings, which include numerous upholstered pieces in white and off-white, that an observer might conclude that those aforementioned friends are forbidden to set so much as a dusty toe in the house. Not so. “We entertain all the time,” says Glickman. “Big dinners, chili or lasagna, and a lot of people.” “And we pour red wine at every meal,” adds Henley. (They do admit to cleaning assiduously, if necessary, once everyone has gone home.)
In the master bedroom, a four-poster bed by Hickory Chair is dressed in Restoration Hardware linens; the curtains are of a Ralph Lauren Home fabric, and the artwork is by Robert Longo.
Such attention and care mean that Glickman and Henley’s furnishings, already imbued with so much of their personal history, could potentially follow them to their next home again. Except they’re not in the market anymore. “We always think whatever house we’re living in is going to be the forever house,” says Henley. “This one actually feels like it might be.”
This story originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of ELLE DECOR.
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