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Beauty and Tranquility

It all started so innocently on a rainy Saturday morning a few months ago. I decided to explore North Stamford in search of unique homes to profile in these pages. I have been up and down Long Ridge Road and High Ridge Road hundreds of times since moving to Stamford eighteen months ago, but rarely veered off onto the side streets. On this day I made a left on Den Road off Long Ridge Road and wound my way over the Mianus River to June Road.

Just past Mead Farm, surrounded by colonials and ranches, I abruptly stopped my car when I discovered a contemporary masterpiece nestled in the woods. I quickly took out my notepad and jotted down the address. I knew I had found my story.

One week later, an issue of this magazine came out, and I decided to drop a few copies off at the home of my contributing photographer, Jay Cohen, whose photo we used for the cover. I texted Jay to ask for his address, and by sheer coincidence, the house that I had admired on June Road belonged to Jay and his wife, Jane. Serendipity?

The Cohen’s, who were living in Scarsdale at the time, came across this property with the Mianus River running through the backyard and fell in love. They purchased the property in 2017, found a custom builder (Sal Zarrella’s Construction Management Group in New Canaan), and were connected by Zarrella to an Easton, Connecticut-based architect named Chris Hull of CAH Architecture and Design.

This 4 bedroom, 5 bath, 4,400 square foot contemporary design is visually one of the most unique homes in Stamford.  In addition to the design, the house is passive certified. Passive homes consume up to 90% less energy than conventional homes by creating super-insulated envelopes with airtight construction to provide a superior-quality residence and lower utility bills.

The architect, Chris Hull, who gets inspiration for his designs from world-renowned architects such as Antoni Gaudi, Faye Jones, and Frank Lloyd Wright, describes this project as the “most fun” of his career. From the very start, he and the homeowners were on the same page. From the pool to the floating staircase leading to the second level, to the massive terrace off the primary suite overlooking the pool, to the fitness center on the lower level, they shared a common vision.  "It is so rewarding to live in house that we helped design.  All the details we agonized over during the design process have now come to fruition, and we couldn't be happier", said the Cohen's.

Jay even converted one of the bedrooms into his photography studio, and with the river running through his backyard and the beautiful woods that comprise North Stamford, he doesn’t have to go very far for subjects to shoot.

"We have truly enjoyed living in Stamford over the past eighteen months. We love the fact that our home is North Stamford is surrounded by country roads, rivers and woodlands, but in 13 minutes we can be in a thriving downtown area filled with shops, excellent restaurants, and cultural attractions.  We have been pleasantly surprised by the wonderful diversity of the city," said Jay.

Unlike a painter, I am not starting with a blank canvas. I start with reality. Still, I have found that beauty is everywhere — you just have to keep your eyes and mind open and it will appear.

Jay Cohen is an award-winning fine art and portrait photographer. He finds beauty in grand vistas, dramatic cityscapes, inspiring architecture, and the mundanity of everyday life. He is a frequent lecturer on topics such as long-exposure photography and fine art architectural photography.

Jay's book, "Moving Pictures",  is a 100-page retrospective of his fine artwork of the past decade. / @jaycohen13