For the complete renovation of her mid-19th Century home in Westport, Connecticut, actress, entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger Eva Amurri wanted to stay true to its simple New England roots — both inside and out. So, just as the mom of three retained most of the original doors and hardware inside the home to blend old and new elements, the hardscape design incorporated natural stone details using granite that was quarried nearby, which seamlessly blends into the historic neighborhood’s landscape.
“We transformed the whole property,” said Warren Cartmel, owner of Natural Designs, LLC based in Monroe, Connecticut, who reworked the home’s outdoor living space to create what Amurri called “a real outdoor/indoor way of life” and ideal for a young family to live in. The entire project included an interior renovation, addition, extensive landscaping and revamping the home’s outdoor living space to reflect the homeowner’s lifestyle.
Before and after photos of the outdoor fireplace and patio area featuring gray granite bush hammered pavers as well as WOODBURY GRAY™ granite thermal pavers and custom hearth
“The homeowner wanted to keep it simple, understated and true to the house’s style, not super formal or fussy,” said Cartmel, who’s been in business for about 27 years doing everything from masonry to excavation and construction. For many of the Westport project’s hardscape design elements, he used Woodbury Gray granite, which is a native New England stone and quarried in Woodbury, Vermont by Swenson Granite Works.
Gray granite bush hammered pattern pavers
Cartmel is no stranger to working with natural stone. He said he rarely works with man-made hardscape products and prefers using natural stone for the majority of his projects because of its durability and simple beauty that reflects the New England landscape.
Warren Cartmel and the Natural Designs, LLC team install granite bush hammered pattern pavers.
But while he eschews products like concrete pavers, he said that one of the benefits of working with Swenson Granite Works’ products is that their uniformity mimics that aspect of man-made products and contributes to ease of use.
“We use a lot of natural fieldstone slab steps and stone walls that require us to break up the stone,” said Cartmel. “The products from Swenson Granite Works were more refined and very easy to work with since the pavers were already cut.”
Leading to the new front entrance are Woodbury Gray granite thermal pavers set in stone dust. “It’s a simple walkway that fits the style of the house,” said Cartmel. Woodbury Gray granite cushion edge entry steps grace the front entrance, as well as a door leading out to the home’s new back patio and on the sides of the porch.
The backyard patio area is separated into zones with gray granite bush hammered pattern pavers, thermal pavers, and yankee style steps, as well as native fieldstone walls. For the patio pavers, a dry set installation was done over an aggregate base.
A custom Woodbury Gray granite hearth, which echoes the new granite steps, is featured on the new outdoor fireplace that makes for a cozy sitting area perfect for entertaining friends or a movie night with the kids.
Below are more before and after photos of the outdoor fireplace and patio area.
The newly reconfigured French courtyard driveway incorporates the same gray granite bush hammered pavers for its apron, while custom Woodbury Gray granite lamp posts with caps stand stately on each side with gas lines routed up through the center hole of the posts to feed custom gas lamps. The granite pillars have been drilled and pinned to hold the wood fence that is similar in style to the one Amurri used around the rest of the property.
Cartmel worked with the Swenson Granite Works Newtown, Connecticut store and said the team was great at communicating when products arrived and always gave him a heads up when they were out for delivery. “Even when the store didn’t have the products we needed available — like custom paver sizes — instead of throwing up their hands and saying sorry we can’t help you, they would troubleshoot and come up with alternative suggestions,” he added.
Of course, the project did come with a few challenges. Some of the grading of the back patio area had water issues that needed to be addressed, not to mention the scope of the project created some issues around scheduling times to get on site to do work.
“But we faced nothing that was impossible,” said Cartmel. “Anyway, I like a challenge.”
Download the Historic Home Renovation Lookbook to explore the finished project.