Reimagining Ultra Luxury Architecture and Design in Greenwich
As Greenwich’s prized homes and estates trade at record prices ultra-luxury architecture and design are often being reimagined for today’s lifestyles. Transforming traditional homes into open and flowing spaces while retaining architectural integrity can be challenging. Designing new custom properties with a focus on indoor/outdoor living to take advantage of the inherent beauty of Greenwich is increasing.
Nicholas Karytinos Co-Founder of tacet creations founded in 2009 in New York with a presence in Greenwich collaborated with Voce Di Studio Karytinos to define the art of modern and sophisticated living at 34 Beechcroft in Mid-Country, Greenwich. Nicholas’ practice extends to Europe with an office in Athens producing hi-end luxury vacation homes. Larger buildings as well are designed by another arm of the company, called Architecture Through Concept, with projects in development in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Athens currently.
Here is a conversation with Nicholas as he shares his thoughts on design concepts and trends that are uniquely Greenwich
What are the current ultra-luxury design and architectural trends in Greenwich?
Prior to Covid, there had already been a shift towards more contemporary design and interiors, integrating details, finishes, and furniture in the interiors. With the increased time spent at home, the past two years came a realization that the home must be more fluid, relaxed, and honest. Ultra-luxury in Greenwich is still focused on opulent materials and finishes, but there is a greater demand for health, nature, sustainability, and architectural lighting beyond decorative lighting.
Another main request is anything revolving around wellness, home indoor pools, and exercise spaces, integrated into a design, and not hidden away in basement spaces. This challenges, the norms of setting up a home as the wellness components require daylight and challenge the traditional home floor plans. Wellness is also translating to requests about solar energy, luxury EV vehicles and charging, and pool house setups.
How do you see architecture evolving in the ultra-luxury market?
As a consequence of the focus on the home, the user dynamics of the past have been challenged. Untouched presentation public spaces that account for 50% of ground floor spaces which are seldomly used in traditional luxury homes, seem uncomfortable and redundant today. Formality is not questioned, but the comfort level of the formal spaces should be appropriate for daily home use as well. This leads to a desire for more flow between the spaces and more connectivity.
Nature has never been appreciated as much as in the past 2 years. The home is now where we spend the majority of our time and live life, not just present it. As a consequence, existing homes are being renovated to engage the beautiful landscape of Greenwich by opening up the homes to the exterior mostly on the rear of the properties and through landscaping including terracing pergolas, pool houses, and other outdoor amenities.
Ultra-luxury can appear in many sizes, depending on the business planning of the owners. The commonality is luxury itself and the redefinition of the term to describe customization to the owner’s exact needs. That is the ultimate luxury. Owner needs and perceptions have changed and are still evolving to cover working from home, wellness, outdoor life, but also seamless integration similar to the life experience that cell phone life and general screen life and wellness applications have brought on. Homes have to modernize to keep up. There is a growing need for the home to become more ergonomic as the effects of using technology in the long term come into focus.
Can you talk about tacet creations expansion into Greenwich?
We naturally expanded out of New York City with the summer and weekend homes of our clients. We had worked in New Canaan, the Hamptons, the Hudson Valley, and more areas, on the periphery of the NYC metro area, before working in Greenwich. We quickly realized the amazing potential of an area with such physical beauty, an amazing beach at Tod's Point, a vibrant town, the key proximity to the Westchester airport, and such transportation ease to the city by car or train. We knew that the time was ripe for a new approach to architecture in Greenwich as there was very little contemporary home inventory, and many aging homes on impressive land.
How do you best transition from traditional architecture to today?
Traditional architecture is as much an attitude as it is an aesthetic. Attitudes have been changing for a while now and architecture is starting to catch up. Aesthetic in itself is a matter of style and taste and traditional can be beautiful and engaging as architecture and interiors. However, there are rules with traditional forms that are harder to adapt to contemporary spatial arrangements as generated by the needs of the homeowners today.
Contemporary architecture allows for a greater ease in playing between formal and informal, integration of lighting into architecture, and the flow between spaces. Contemporary architecture is also more honest to our time's given modern materials that render obsolete the needs for many traditional details. Most traditional homes can be renovated to become a hybrid with contemporary flow of spaces. With regards to newly constructed homes, there is a very large range to what is named contemporary in terms of aesthetics. The one item however that truly should define contemporary is the flow of spaces and in the case of houses the connection to the outdoors. Beware of traditional space posturing as contemporary!
What do your clients in Greenwich want in design compared to your New York clients?
Everyone wants the same elements: space, flow, connectivity, the full desired program, natural light, and relevant contemporary finishes and furniture. The main difference is the ease with which all these desires are achievable in Greenwich for the same budget as in New York City. There is simply more space and freedom with a house, which allows the house to become a location to bring a vaster part of life in one location, from all kinds of specialty rooms to art collections.
Today, the needs and aspirations go beyond the functional alone. Our homes have to inspire and provoke our own transformation, enabling us to capture the most from life, provoking progress towards our individually unique goals. Should the home of a writer look and behave like the home of a diplomat or film producer? There is a great deal of space and freedom with a house-to-house life in a more complete way.
Expect to see more properties around the area emerge as contemporary creations for today’s lifestyles.