Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tory Burch's Westerly

Design maven Tory Burch is no stranger to the spotlight when it comes to her homes. Her friend and trusted decorator, architect Daniel Romauldez, has designed all of her homes and her stores - including the beautiful Paris Flagship store. When Tory purchased her newest home, the estate built for business tycoon John W. Kiser in 1929 on Southampton's tony Ox Pasture Road, Daniel quickly got to work, and the house was featured in a small spread in Vogue the following year. 

An areal photo of Westerly after completion. At this point, the house was actually named Sunset Court by the owner John W. Kiser, and his family. It wasn't until two seasons after the original opening of the 15,000 square foot summer "cottage", that the family renamed the home Westerly. The Kiser family lived at Westerly for over 20-years, until the late 1950's, when they sold the house to Philadelphia businessman Donald Stewart Leas, stepfather of socialite Fernanda Wanamaker. 

Today Westerly looks a little different, doesn't it? Much more developed, with landscape fully realized, and other mansions dotting the landscape. 

An old photo of the water gardens shows that Westerly had original landscaping that included a small pond.

When Tory bought the house, the pond was long gone, but the manicured hedge rows were still in tact.

Today, the gardens were redesigned by Tory and landscape designer Perry Guillot to make room for a large play/entertaining area. 

I'm a fan of this change, what do you think?

When Tory purchased the mansion, there were several out buildings originally part of the estate, designed to accommodate year-round staff, gardeners, and guest overflow. (Can you imagine having so many summer guests that you'd fill a 15,000 square foot home?) The property was subdivided during the sale, and Tory purchased the main house (above) along with a large part of the divided acreage. 

The original landscape was purposely overgrown at Westerly prior to Tory purchasing the home. A live-in gardener has been maintaining the grounds since 1994 when the property was purchased by millionaire, Howard Gittis. 

By the time of her Vogue article, Tory had carefully manicured the heirloom plantings  with only a few short trimmings of the evergreens by the door. 

And for the AD article, things look a little more full and overgrown, with the windows barely seen on the first floor.

Valet drivers bringing around high-end luxury cars to guests at Tory's luncheon fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. Check out Anna Wintour to the right in her blue Tory Burch dress. 

What I've found most fascinating about the transition of this house, are the interiors from 1994 (above) to what follows, and how much of the furniture was left in the house or purchased by Tory and Daniel and reused!

Tory purchased the estate from the trust, after the death of long-time owner Howard Gittis, an attorney and adviser to Revlon owner who passed away leaving much of his fortune to his four daughters. I would imagine that a lot of the furniture in the house was not of interest to the family, and was for sale by the trust. 

Still, it's hard to imagine someone buying a 32 MILLION dollar home and then reusing furniture. But I'm loving it! It goes to show that it's not always necessary to buy new - and even extremely high end design doesn't always mean it cost a fortune.

For Vogue. The sofa's and the large, square coffee table with the Greek key legs stayed. 

But later, by the time of the AD feature, the room had changed a little more, with the sofas purchased from Gittis now slipcovered in the iconic Bowood fabric. 

Looking toward the other end of the former ballroom, you see that even more furniture was part of the original listing. The sofa (facing the shot) here, had already been reupholstered in Bowood before the Vogue article was published. And the side chair to the right of it can now be seen as part of a pair entering into the Swedish pine paneled library in the Vogue feature.

Alternate side of the room, today.

In the main hall from Vogue, entry to the dining room and library. Today, the view is a bit different: 

A large, natural carpet from Stark Carpet covers most of the marble floors, and an octagonal table filled with myrtle topiary in terracotta pots anchors the massive space. On the opposite side: 

The entry into the dining room, with matching vignettes following the natural symmetry of the architecture. 

For the real estate listing, you can see that Gittis also had a center table in that foyer. A long table sits atop a pattern woven natural rug, seating 14 comfortably. Notice anything else? Keep looking! Check out the Empire style mirror based ballroom tables nestled between those windows. That's right - the same ones that are now used outside of this room in the foyer. 

The inside of the room wasn't really featured in Vogue. There was this photo, which hinted at a big change: 

Walls were finished in a beautiful Iksel pattern, also notably used by Mark D. Sikes in a project featured in his book, Beautiful. Thankfully though, Architectural Digest showed us the whole space: 

Tory's desginer, Daniel Romualdez chose to use two tables here instead of the one long table. Seating exists for 14, just at two different tables. Do the chairs look familiar? Yep! Scroll back up. I have to say that I do love the new serving tables, and of course that wall covering: 

Gorgeous, right? Sigh ... such beauty. The Dining room is HUGE:

From Tory's blog, a party with 3 tables, and seating for 30. WOW! And speaking of wow, check out this close up of those beautiful dining room walls:

For the listing, the sun porch with its wicker furniture and potted plants.

The same room for Vogue. Quite different, but with a similar feeling, don't you think? Relaxed and sophisticated. This may be my favorite room in the whole house! 

Looking the opposite direction for the October Architectural Digest, a similar view to the listing photo. The walls and sofa upholstered in the same Quadrille Persepolis fabric.

Before, looking down the long hallway of the side entry. You can see the staircase peeking out of the arched opening at the end of the hall. 

At the other end of the hall, you see steps that lead down to a ground level, a skirted table and chivari chair covered in Scalamandre's silk velvet le Tigre can be seen behind Tory and her three sons. This was for the Vogue shoot.

Today, the table is covered in Schumacher's Pyne Hollyhock, and the chairs were replaced by these French ones in leather. From this shot, you can tell a little bit about the overall flow of the house. Beyond this hall, the stairs lead down into what used to be the old ballroom. What today is Tory's living room with the persimmon silk curtains. Through that room, you find the sunroom papered in Persepolis.

The library is a room where original furniture no longer remains. Here in the listing, the Swedish pine paneled walls play backdrop to richly colored rugs and art, and jewel toned furniture.

For AD, Tory and Daniel kept the mirror above the fireplace, the rug, the floor lamps, and even the curtains. New upholstered furniture and art give the room a completely different feeling though. 

The master suite prior to Tory and Daniel working on it. This room didn't get a feature in the Vogue spread, but made one heck of an impression for AD:

Replacement of the wall-to-wall carpet with a new patterned rug, along with lots of Colefax and Fowler chintz.

The mansion boasts a total of 25-rooms, including 12-bedrooms. While the only before and after I could find was of Tory's master, there are other bedrooms from both Vogue and AD:

The pavillion by the pool is a 75-year old structure, built by the original family and architect. When Tory bought the house, this section was subdivided into her ownership along with the mansion.

It looks beautiful with climbing roses and blue and white porcelain for AD.

Another shot, looking toward the pool through the pavilion.

And for AD, with the table all set, the original chandelier remains. 

This instagram photo shows a secondary seating area of the pavilion, furnished in white wicker.

I'm sure that the house will be photographed again, and again and more rooms of the impressive mansion will come into view. Til then, thanks to Vogue and AD, we can ooo and aww over these.


  1. Beautiful post, Artie. I enjoyed reading it very much.

    I find it interesting to view how a home changes over time with it's owners. This property is no exception. I think reusing furniture is such an important concept. I think this is a perfect example of the true value in a slip cover! Amazing transformation.

    The grand hall is stunning; the black/white marble floors, the iron table filled with herb topiaries - heavy sigh. I think I may have kept the niches with shell tops, in an effort to preserve the historic architecture, especially since the element is repeated in the dining room. Again the reuse of the dining chairs dressed in cream paint, pairing them with separate tables, love. I'm sorry, unlike you, I'm not thrilled with the wall treatment. One of my favorite details are the coral drapes in the living room, somewhat like ball gowns, they remind me of Gerrie Bremermann's orange drapes from the historic NOLA property, seen in Veranda many years past. Stunning. I agree the sunroom is one of my favorite rooms as well. I agree, the new garden design is more useful, also stately. It's interesting under Ms. Burch the house has taken on an English Manor feel. Wouldn't it be fun to tour? A lovely, impressive, grand home.

  2. Well, used furniture is just an 'antique' in a lot of cases -and especially here. When I recently sold my apartment I sold it completely furnished to the buyer who was glad to have it (and I was happy with the $ and a 'fresh start'). So I don't think thats really a big deal. It's not like it was ikea crap. Happens a lot with 2nd / 3rd homes and lots of vacation properties. Furniture is just part of it!

  3. Love the blues and greens! nice post!

  4. Loved the post - and what handsome sons! Yes, my friend has a second home in Carmel that is beautifully furnished and filled with marvelous art, but she said that if they ever sell, almost everything will stay with the house, that that's the way most people there do it...