When Diane and Niles Rath had their son, Balthazar, they knew that leaving their one-bedroom New York apartment was inevitable. A few years prior, Diane, who worked as a learning specialist, and Niles, a computer forensics consultant and born and raised Manhattanite, had caught the remodeling bug. They first redid a condo outside of the city, followed by a lake house that they bought as Niles’ first taste of country living. When it was time to find a new home, the couple knew that only a fixer-upper would do — this time though, they would transform one with a two-year-old in tow!
Diane and Niles decided to search for a home in Connecticut, within easy commuting distance of the city. They hoped to find a house in an active and vibrant area, close to the water. With three lakes, an adorable town center, two major universities and a quick drive to the beach, Fairfield, CT quickly came through as the winner. The couple began actively looking for a house in town, focusing on ranch-style homes with a pool and some privacy. When they first stepped foot on the property they now call home, they didn’t even have to walk through the door before knowing it was the one. The property, flanked by a small lake, had an in-ground pool, stood on a private dead-end road and most importantly — it needed to be updated. With a completely fenced-in backyard, the three-bedroom house was even ideal for the family’s two rescue dogs! Needless to say, it was a done deal.
Much of Diane and Niles’ renovation budget went into necessary constructional updates — installing a new roof, windows and central air, updating electrical wiring and reconstructing the pool are just a few projects that kept the couple busy during the first months. Although the house now meets the family’s daily needs, it’s nowhere near finished. To turn the house into their dream home, Diane and Niles have plans to build additions and reconstruct some of the existing spaces. In the interim, they have worked hard to make each existing area as functional and visually appealing as possible. From painting the entire house to ripping up carpets and exposing the hardwood floors, Diane and Niles have done most of the aesthetic updates themselves.
For Diane, leaving New York also meant leaving behind her 10-year private practice. She took a leap of faith, and decided to dedicate herself full-time to interior design. A passion that used to be a hobby has now become a new and exciting career path, and what better home to start with than her own? Creating unique spaces that house the couple’s most loved pieces, regardless of style and era, has been essential for Diane throughout the decoration process. “Honestly, if we love something, we buy it, no matter what style or time period it’s from,” she explains. Thrift stores and flea markets have been the main sources for decorating on a budget, and have allowed Diane to fill the family’s home with one-of-a-kind treasures. Although the couple wanted to create a modern environment, it was also important for them to stay true to the home’s mid-century roots. What developed is an eclectic style that oozes comfort and chicness, with a hint of vintage elegance added to the mix.
Even though the house is a work-in-progress, you’d never guess it — each space, bursting with colorful and creative solutions, reflects the family’s style to a tee. Diane and Niles set out to create a home that works for them during each stage of the remodel — as the family grows and evolves, so will the house. Isn’t that the definition of an ideal home? —Sofia
Image above: Pattern, color and different textures make up the Rath family’s mid-century inspired living room. Repointing the fireplace and changing it back to a wood-burning unit was one of the bigger projects in the house. Now the fireplace is always lit during winter months, making this a warm and cozy room to gather with drinks during get-togethers. Vaulting the living room ceiling is a project that Diane and Niles hope to tackle in the future.