A Work of Art

Story by Dana Asher | Photography by Thomas Moore


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Amy and Bruce Paul

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Wouldn‘t it be wonderful if we all could have a “practice” house on which to hone our personal style and preferences, decorate to our heart’s content, and then hand off to the next occupant before moving on to the real thing, a manse not marred by missteps.



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The Pauls’ 11,000-square-foot Rye home.


In moving to their 11,000-square-foot home in Rye, Amy and Bruce Paul had as close to that opportunity as it comes. Their previous house, a post-modern structure in Purchase’s Lincoln Rise, had been the result of a developed taste and, despite its contemporary stucco and brick exterior, its interior was filled with decidedly traditional furnishings and accessories. The one exception: a collection of striking artwork from an array of contemporary artists, such as Itzhak Tarkay of Israel and Italian artist, Pino Daeni, both known for their vibrant paintings of women. When the opportunity came to build, the Pauls were determined that the outside and inside correlate, both equally representing the homeowners’ taste in design and art. Not only would the new space comfortably house their active family of six, but best showcase their extensive collection of painting and sculpture, as practiced and perfected in their previous home.



A bronze eagle statue by Chester Fields, titled “Building for the Future,” is the focal point of the double-height entry foyer, lit by a James Moder chandelier made of Swarovski crystals.


Just before the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the Pauls purchased a 13-acre estate in Rye, dividing up the property into seven lots and saving a prime two-plus-acre parcel for themselves. Working with builder Michael DiChiaro (who, knowing a good thing when he sees it, grabbed one of the lots for himself), they constructed a six-bedroom, seven full-bath home, offering a view to the wooded yard that soon came to include a pool and waterfall designed by Coral Sea Pools of Briarcliff Manor and an artistic roster of bronze “tenants” that included both children and adults by Mexican artist Bruno Luna.



Chandeliers purchased in Murano, Italy, pick up the colors of original paintings from artists Isaac Maimon and Charles Levier. Yellow and persimmon tulip fabric create the “light” and “bright” mandate that Amy had for the design of her home. Lalique crystal birds and Baccarat pieces adorn the display case to the left of the two-sided fireplace. The wainscoting in the coffered ceiling is painted a sunny apple green.


In the pursuit of design and decoration, Amy turned to Joseph R. Stabile of the Briarcliff Manor-based firm J.R. Cattington, an interior designer who had worked with the couple on their previous residence. “This home was a designer’s dream come true in so many ways,” Stabile says. “In addition to the selection and installation of all the interior-design elements, we also had input on the architectural design and all of the interior finishes, electrical layout, and lighting selection.” Stabile and his talented design staff chose a palette of cream and gold to highlight the Pauls’ paintings and sculptures. But coming in on the ground floor—literally—gave the designer the opportunity to suggest structural changes as well, including the addition of a doorway in the dead-end formal living room to allow for better flow and convenience.



A graceful ballerina sculpture found in Mexico, an elegant glass vase and bowl, and a Lucite sculpture by artist Frederick Hart, creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., sit together atop a baby grand piano in the Pauls’ living room.


That living room became the model for Amy’s primary directive for her home: light and bright. Buttery gold satin-striped fabric from Robert Allen worked that magic, creating window treatments that literally gleam, and crystal wall sconces by Crystorama highlight an original oil painting by S. Francis that hangs over the fireplace. The soft shades create a worthy gallery for notable paintings, such as an original by English artists Janet Treby, an oil painting by Canadian artist Liane Abrieu, and a pair of Russian oil paintings. Silk brocade wing chairs covered with Sherrill upholstery are given a splash of color with throw pillows in shades of green, taupe, and burgundy, some with crystal beading. Fuchsia and silk rugs discovered on a recent trip to China pick up the pillows’ colors.



Bruce’s masculine card room features dark wood paneling and bookcases, a built-in bar, and leopard-print fabric. The Biedermeier chairs around the game tables once belonged to Bruce’s mother.


A pair of stately columns delineates the living room and family room, where luminous yellows on the walls—a toile pattern by Antonia Vella as well as Seabrook wallcoverings—and covering the couch are given splashes of color with fabrics in shades of lemon, green, and persimmon used in the elaborate window treatments, throw pillows, and side chairs. Crystal chandeliers with dangling colored crystals, imported from Murano by Castilian Imports, look as if they were custom-coordinated with paintings by Isaac Maimon and Charles Levier. And, furthering the spring-garden look, the coffered ceiling is painted a green apple shade with cream-colored woodwork as an accent. “This room just makes me smile,” Amy says. “I love the colors and the crystal chandeliers.”



The kitchen’s light cabinetry, painted with an antique bone rub-through, is highlighted by countertops of marble and a back- splash of tumbled marble and bronze accent tiles. The island is done in a contrasting dark cherry that’s carried out in accents of corbels and appliqués. Indirect lighting, such as lighting inside the cabinets and underneath them, is used to set the mood.


While Amy holds court in the vibrant, cheerful spaces, not all of the rooms have her feminine touch. A stone-front fireplace with columns separates the family room from Bruce’s clubby card room. With its dark wood paneling and bookcases, built-in bar, and masculine fabric, it’s the room of a man’s man, with all of the mystery of conversations to be had over hand-rolled cigars and Chivas, neat. Birds of semi-precious stone, found on a trip to Brazil, sit on the fireplace mantel. Biedermeier chairs with leopard-print fabric, which once belonged to Bruce’s mother, flank two black granite game tables. (A sophisticated eye apparently runs in the family, along with an artistic passion: Bruce’s mother, sculptor Ethel Paul, focused on bronze sculptures, often concentrating on women’s bodies.)



Fabricade red “Pineapple House” fabric and a silk check fabric add color to the room. Seating eight, the round dining table sits under a vaulted ceiling; the large chandelier that hangs from    it matches the lights above the island.


“The client gave us free reign to design the fireplace in the card room,” says Stabile. Keeping in mind Amy’s attention to detail and love of drama, he opted for large, intricately carved mahogany lions by Enkeboll Designs for a strong presence and used the Serengeti Leopard carpet series by Kane Carpet to marry Bruce’s adjoining office with the card room. 



Designing the master bedroom, with its soaring vaulted ceiling and vast size, was a challenge. To bring the room into scale, Stabile used Highland Court silk brocade to create a cornice “headboard”  that coordinates with the custom curtains.


But other family members had the opportunity to put in their two cents, as well. Upstairs, Joanna, Ryan, Matt, and Jason each provided their own personal input for their bedrooms and baths. Carpets by Masland Carpets, furnishings by Bernhardt, and wallpapers by Thibaut were an integral part of these areas.



French doors open to a Juliette balcony overlooking the yard and pool. Art plays a role of prominence in this personal space: Foo dogs on the mantelpiece were discovered in China and bronze dog sculptures flank the fireplace.


For those with a sophisticated eye, the Pauls’ passion for art is evident from the moment they enter the front door and come face to face with a magnificent bronze eagle sculpture by Chester Fields, which lays claim to the entry foyer. Perched beside the curving stairway lit by crystal sconces and a crystal chandelier, the sculpture is center stage due to subtle decorating that doesn’t compete for attention, such as a wall treatment of cream stripes and the simplest wainscot painted a glossy white.



Designer Joseph Stabile calls the copper and cloisonné vessel sink, placed atop a marble-topped vanity, “a rare find” and designed the powder room around it.


The initial painting in the Pauls collection was by French artist Charles Levier, known for his fascination with color and form. “We walked into a gallery in SoHo and fell in love with it,” Amy says. After that, the pursuit of  sculpture and painting—often of women and by and large in bright shades—became a treasure hunt during travels to Europe, South American, Asia, and the Southwest. In Israel, the couple discovered Tarkay, whose work became a passion of theirs. “We tend to buy what we like, what strikes us. We don’t ask if it’s ‘good’ art or ‘bad’ art or if it will appreciate,” she says. By the time the Pauls built this home, they had enough pieces to wonder aloud if there might not be enough wall space to display their collection. “We’re going to have to rotate art if we buy any more.”



In the dining room, saffron-embossed silk brocade by Kravet Couture upholsters the walls and creates the window treatments of swags and jabots. The chairs around the Century dining table are upholstered in a blue cut to coordinate with the royal coffered ceiling above. Two chandeliers by James Moder light the space.


Still, for these avid collectors, diminishing gallery space isn’t cause to give up their quest. The couple recently returned from Uruguay, where they purchased two paintings—one a contemporary black-and-white piece that works well in son Ryan’s urban-style bedroom.



Crystal wall sconces by Crystorama highlight an oil painting by S. Francis that hangs over the fireplace in the living room. Two columns separate the space from the family room.


“I love Pino, and if my journeys brought me across another gorgeous Pino original, I’d buy it in a heartbeat,” Amy says. But it’s more than just the love of art that keeps the Pauls motivated. “When you buy during your travels, art takes on even more meaning. It reminds you of where you’ve been and good times and experiences you’ve had. I’ve no intention of giving it up.”



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