Leia T. Ward is redefining coastal style in a modern single family home

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Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

What Makes a House by the Sea a House by the Sea? Take a short stroll through a recent project by designer Leia T. Ward on the Connecticut coast and you’ll hardly see a blue and white accent or nautical theme. Instead, the founder of LTW Design used her penchant for warm but minimal modernity to let the house play a supporting role for its most striking feature: the expansive view of the sea.

“Our intention was to redefine the coast,” says Ward, also a successful home artist who met her clients after visiting a house she had staged on a nearby island. They fell in love with the facility and eventually hired Ward when they decided to build a new home on a different lot. “It’s really organic that way,” the customer relationship designer says. “They knew my job and just said, ‘We want to work with you from the ground up.'”

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

white house, outside, pool, garden chairs

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

The clients hired architects Mark P. Finlay and Nick Frate of Fox Hill Builders to create a home that would be functional for an active young family (the owners have five children) while taking full advantage of the property’s near 360-degree views the Long Island Sound. As soon as the blueprints were ready, Ward began furnishing the interiors with a similar goal of combining cozy comfort and a breathtaking location. Read on to find out how she did it.

entry

Entrance, wooden floors, stairs, glass doors

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

Entrance, glass doors, stone tiles

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

The double high staircase of the house continues the feeling of openness from the first to the second floor. With a structure that is mostly made of glass, a warm wooden floor – like this oak – is the key to balance.

living room

white couch, gray carpet living room

A neutral color palette and minimal art keep the focus on the outside look.

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

“When you pull into the driveway, all you see is floor-to-ceiling windows into this living room. We wanted it to show off a bit,” explains Ward. That said, she didn’t want the decor to obscure the view through the floor either, so she opted for flat furniture and ditched window treatments in favor of exposed iron window frames and monochrome art instead of animated wallcoverings.

white sofas, gray carpet, coffee table, fireplace

An Arteriors pendant adds dimension without distracting from the neutral tone.

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

“Our goal in most projects is to make the room calm,” says the designer. While the monochrome palette helps here, Ward didn’t want the room to feel cold: a plush rug from RH Modern and a concrete made from coffee table and fireplace surround add tactile elements. “It takes this depth because it’s really just a big glass house,” says Ward. “The textures make sure it doesn’t feel crowded.”

dining room

Wooden dining table, white chairs, books with coffee tables

Ward dropped a chandelier over the dining table so as not to obstruct the view.

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

“The color palette needs to be cohesive in all of our projects,” says Ward – and it became especially important in a house like this open floor plan. In the dining room, she continues the monochrome palette with texture pops. “We thought about how we could refine this coast so that it can be anywhere in the country.” The answer? “Lots of natural materials,” including oak, wool, and linen, as on the dining room chairs.

Wooden dining table, white chairs, books with coffee tables

Ward opted for a round dining table to balance the two rectangular kitchen islands.

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

kitchen

white kitchen, wooden cupboards, white bar stools, white countertops, black ceiling lamps

The kitchen stools are from RH and the pendants are from Lightology.

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

Lauren Vallario designed the foundations for the kitchen, with Ward filling in the lighting and accessories. Ward also recommended the twin island, a feature that is becoming increasingly common in her projects. “One island will be fully functional – it has a sink, you can put your groceries there – and then the other island has seats on either side,” like a kitchen table. “We just want to make it really functional, but also clear,” she explains.

living room

gray couch, wooden coffee table, gray carpet, gray throw, glass doors

Cozy throws and natural elements give the family room warmth.

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

“It’s a little more relaxed,” says Ward of the family room compared to the living room. “Here they’ll all hang out as a family.” For this reason, Ward has upholstered the comfortable section with a perennial fabric that withstands all soiling from the (five!) Children of the family.

bedroom

Bedroom, wooden ceiling, white carpet, white bedspread

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

“I wanted to create a kind of Malibu feel,” says Ward of her decision to cover the vaulted ceilings of the master bedroom with wood. The resulting warm, open space is a perfect distillation of her vision for the entire home: “It’s obviously a high-end home, but we wanted it to be accessible and down to earth,” she says. “The whole vibe for it was casually sophisticated. Everything is very usable, but when the kids aren’t around, the adults can have friends and it’s a complete room for adults too.”

bath

Bathroom, marble wall, white bathtub

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

The master bathroom exudes the same sense of calm that pervades the home.

study

Wooden floors, black desk, white chair

Clean lines and a modern Eames office chair keep a desk area from feeling cluttered.

Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

“Everyone needs a desk at home these days,” says Ward, who turned a small alcove in the bedroom into a study with a minimal desk and a photo by artist Cattie Coyle.

See more of the house – and its views! – below:

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Editor-in-chief
Hadley Keller is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in design, interiors, and culture.

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