You might say Jeff Titus is a bit of a construction chameleon.
When presented with a new project – whether it’s a kitchen refresh, a well-planned addition or a whole-house overhaul – the building and design expert looks at the original bones of the house for inspiration.
“We transform the space – the look, the feel – but we don’t impose a specific style that’s ours,” Jeff says. “Those kinds of things don’t work. We are guided by what is architecturally correct for what is already there.
“Our goal is to make it look like it was designed and built like that from the beginning.”
To that end, Titus has spent the last 27 years fulfilling customer wish lists across Fairfield County. With a degree in construction engineering and an early career learning the real-world ropes from architects and an engineering firm, he and TitusBuilt – named a “Big 50” remodeler by Remodeling Magazine – focus on professionalism and craftsmanship. Their time-tested system takes homeowners through theins and outs of design, the oft-labyrinthine world of town approvals and FEMA compliance to confident construction of their dream homes.
The fourth of a full five family generations who’ve made their homes in the area, Titus is the great-grandson of an industrious fellow who moved to the area in 1918. When he’s asked his expert opinion on a home renovation or rebuild, it’s sometimes because he’s already worked on a house once or twice or he’s familiar with the historical significance of the original builder.
Recently, he was asked to recommend a plan for a local home originally designed by Frazier Forman Peters. With an early eye to sustainable design and a signature flair with stonework, the renowned architect is credited with at least 41 Westport homes and his work is chronicled by his granddaughter Laura Blau in Frazier Forman Peters: Westport’s Legacy in Stone.
Titus was well acquainted with Peter’s heritage in town. And he was sure the current cabinets bought at a home improvement store were not what the architectural master had in mind for the gourmet kitchen.
“It was just not right,” says Jeff, who custom designed and built a kitchen more in keeping with the home.
Another recent rebuild reshaped a cavernous 1980s spec home “with zero personality” into a warm and welcoming family space with new moldings and countertops inside and an outdoor entertaining oasis with a pool, patios and two toasty fireplaces.
The kitchen cabinets alone are showstoppers: They’re custom designed with stained walnut, paint and stainless steel inlays with glass.
“It was a cookie-cutter Colonial,” he says. “We literally went room by room and transformed it.”
An antique from the 1800s got a similar full treatment.
“It has beautiful bones and character, but we effectively gutted it inside,” Jeff says. “New windows, copper gutters…we completely modernized it inside.”
Known throughout the region, Titus often steps in as a trusted advisor. A realtor friend asked if he’d tour some possible future homes with a couple actively hoping to set down roots in the area. After looking at three, he found out a fourth home was on the market – one he had worked on twice.
He was able to advise the couple of moving walls to open up the kitchen, adapting it to a modern lifestyle while honoring the home’s integrity.
One of his favorite recent projects involved a Greenwich house that boasted a huge lower-level space filled with a dearth of warmth or convenience. With small, traditional basement windows and no easy access to the outdoors and the property’s enticing pool, the space wasn’t even fit for a gaggle of visiting teenagers.
“You wouldn’t want to go down there,” Jeff says, laughing.
The Titus team excavated near the wall, adding 14-foot-wide steps up to ground level and generous French doors that allowed natural light to pour into the once-dank space. The plans added a mudroom to towel off and a unique bunkroom with walnut ladders and ship lights at each of six bunks for spectacular sleepovers.
A new kitchen and movie screening area completed the entertaining mecca.
“Now even the adults want to be there,” Jeff says.