Tommy and Dee Hilfiger have brought a storied landmark manor on Connecticut’s Gold Coast back to life to create the ultimate family retreat
C onsidering its close proximity to the Big Apple—just about 56 kilometres north of New York City—Tommy and Dee Hilfiger’s home in Greenwich, Connecticut gives the impression of being a proper family retreat, a home far removed from the stresses of the urban jungle. Round Hill, as the Hilfiger family home is called, sits on a lush 10-hectare expanse covering the highest point in Greenwich. It’s a place that seems to have popped out of a storybook: a red-roofed structure with a Tudor aesthetic in the middle of a verdant wooded area. The community it is located in is equally charming: picturesque storefronts and homey restaurants; neighbours stepping out to say hello; and an American flag fluttering in the breeze like something out of a novel.
The story of the property begins in 1939 with the award-winning architect Greville Rickard. The graduate of the Yale School of Architecture and the alumnus of Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York had built it for the real-estate magnate Charles Vincent Paterno, which explains the manor’s name before it was known as Round Hill: Chateau Paterno. One of the house’s more interesting details is that Rickard immortalised himself and the builder in stained-glass panels flanking an ogee archway that remains a fixture to this day. Hilfiger likes to think the duo kept an eye on everyone while the restoration was being done. In 1961, the property was sold to renowned art collector Joseph Hirshhorn, who used the house to display his extensive collection of 19thand 20th-century paintings and sculptures that today are on display at the Hirshhorn Museum, which he founded in Washington.
When the Hilfigers bought the estate in 2010, their goal was to create a comfortable English country
When it came to inspiration, the couple looked no further than their own experiences. “Dee and I are lucky to have traveled so much”
house with French Normandy details. What they weren’t expecting was the rewarding journey the project would take them on. “As designers, Dee and I love to collaborate and we got the opportunity to work with an incredible team on this project,” noted Hilfiger. Architect André Tchelistcheff and builder Jim Xhema worked in partnership. Greenwichbased interior design firm Rinfret Ltd. and Martyn Lawrence Bullard handled the interiors. Landscape designer Miranda Brooks, horticulturist Phillip Watson, and stonemason Bobby Hilfiger took charge of the gardens and exterior.
When it came to inspiration, the couple looked no further than their own experiences. “Dee and I are lucky to have traveled so much,” said Hilfiger. “It has given us such an appreciation and respect for other cultures and this house was truly a wonderful opportunity to pay homage.”
Since its original construction, the structure never departed from its architectural blueprint, which was Norman-inspired with distinctive Gothic and Tudor influences. While the building had seen numerous renovations (including an unfortunate attempt to go Danish modern) Round Hill has retained much of its birthright from 1930s America. History buffs will recall that was a time when affluent Americans would travel to Europe and bring back an array of contrasting ideas, styles, and décor. This home, with its nods to England, France, the Netherlands, and Flanders on full display, was no exception. For Tchelistcheff, that meant using great sensitivity and doing extensive research in order to preserve the structure’s heritage while fixing and enhancing it to suit a modern family.
Such discipline, indeed, comes into play at the estate. While Hilfiger calls the environs of his home the backcountry, he can glimpse the bustling lights of New York City shimmering in the distance from his office, a room tucked into the third floor of a romantic ivy-covered turret. State-of-the-art appliances and amenities dress the combined kitchen and breakfast space that makes up the heart of the home—an entirely new addition to the old manor,
yet visitors would be hard-pressed to discover a clue that these rooms hadn’t always been there.
Hilfiger is a passionate collector of art and antiques, and there are incredible pieces to be found throughout Round Hill. Still Life with a Hare by Bernard DeBridat holds pride of place beside collections of Black Forest hunting trophies. In the dining room, the 19th-century AWN Pugin table is set with vintage Royal Doulton® dinner plates and Tiffany & Co silverware. The breakfast room features a rug that once belonged to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. There are also many pristine examples of porcelain from both the Ming and Qing periods.
Amongst the antiques, personal touches can be found everywhere. The media room’s décor was inspired by Dee’s Turkish heritage. It’s a popular gathering place for the entire family both for its entertainment value and the expansive ottoman banquette designed by Bullard that recalls a pasha’s palace in Istanbul. In 8-year-old Sebastian Hilfiger’s room, a towering giraffe from acclaimed toymaker Steiff keeps a watchful eye during bedtime.
The outdoor spaces are no less impressive, having to measure up to the grandeur of the house. Brooks set out to create different experiences. She imagined Tommy and Dee taking a walk after dinner through the water garden where the sounds are a soothing respite, family picnics, and football games on the great lawn; and their granddaughter Harley playing hide-and-seek in the boxwood knot garden. “Miranda did an incredible job of bringing back the garden to what it might have been when the house was built,” commented Dee.
The property undoubtedly has a history as colourful as Hilfiger’s red, blue, and white. It took nearly six years to complete the house, but it’s now a warm and welcoming place that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Remembering its storied past in the architecture and writing new chapters in their restoration, the Hilfigers can call Round Hill home.
lodge living The grand hall features the house’s original hand-hewn oak staircase framed by delicately carved panels and windows; (opposite) Above the blue sofa rests a French painting that is one of a pair from Sotheby’s
colourful comforts The colour palette in the living room gives a subtle nod to Tommy’s American roots, but mingles with European furnishings and accessories that reflect Dee’s sophisticated tastes