Inside the Idyllic Connecticut Country Home of Actress Michelle Gomez

“There were these things called… Trees,” says Doctor Who actress Michelle Gomez , mocking her own astonishment at the verdant spectacle closing in on the 1865 country house that she and her husband, Pirates of the Caribbean actor Jack Davenport , had purchased in Litchfield County , Connecticut, just a few months earlier, during the winter of 2018, when the property was cloaked in snow.

“I had never seen so much green,” the BAFTA nominee says of her first discovery of the plush lawns, thriving vegetable patch, and cutting garden of breezy, beaming flowers from delphinium to daisies to dogwood. Those aforementioned trees, thickly canopied, are mostly ash and clustered in a private woods on the edge of the eight-acre estate. Work and school had kept the family from escaping New York to their newfound bucolic retreat until spring 2019 was chirping, dewy, and utterly in bloom. (Also in residence with Gomez and Davenport are their 11-year-old son Harry, goddaughter Emma, and Frank the Jack Russell terrier.)

“It’s like I stepped into a secret garden from a Charles Dickens novel,” says Gomez, a self-proclaimed urbanite and Glasgow native. Such a revelation was this lush milieu that Gomez’s antiquing accomplice and Litchfield County neighbor, Jennifer Chused—principal of Chused & Co. , a Brooklyn design studio—turned it into a touchstone in the home’s new interiors.

The colonial-era house was in good shape for its age. Tall ceilings gave the cozy spaces room to breathe, and the timeworn patina of the original clapboard was more charming than shabby. “Far from picture perfect,” Gomez says. “But very comfortable.”

The original floor planks, however, had been stained an old-fashioned shade of brown and were water damaged to boot, so Chused took inspiration from the natural setting and painted them dark green. “I normally resist painting wood floors, but there was something that was just too country about mid-brown, 10-inch-wide wood planks,” says Chused, who also designed the family’s Brooklyn town house. “The rich green really made them special.” For walls throughout the home, the designer chose “the perfect off-white,” which dialed the green floors greenier and created a neutral canvas for the lively art and textiles to come.

If the landscape was a touchstone for the design, then the provenance of the home was its north star. “The idea of a country house was something that Michelle and Jack had grown up with,” Chused says. “They wanted a little bit of heritage in the design, so it felt like they had always been there.” But when you’re furnishing a 153-year-old home from scratch, a deep-rooted sense of place can be a tricky feat, unless you’re an antiques expert (Chused also buys and sells heirlooms for a living) with a trusty deputy (Gomez is an accomplished treasure seeker in her own right). Their tandem hunting grounds included the flea markets and antique shops of Millerton, New Preston, Connecticut, and Litchfield, as well as Chused & Co.’s global inventory.

In the dining room, Harry’s art projects—vortexes of paint and fabric—take place on the dining table. The table is an old teacher’s desk with spindrift from his creative process. Any remains are handily disguised by the scarlet palette and ornate geometry of an antique Persian rug. “The horns got stuck in customs, and I forgot about them until they arrived at my door four years later,” Chused says. “Maybe they were waiting for just the right home.”

Although the living room’s warmth and welcoming atmosphere can be attributed to the tall stacks of dog-eared books and a steady fire in the centerpiece hearth (“The first order of business each morning is to light all the fireplaces, no matter what season,” Gomez says), the handsome vintage club chairs are just as inviting. Scored at an auction, the buttery leather seats are ideally oversized so that anyone can have a cozier, more curled-up sitting experience. And on the fireplace mantle, a rare painting by turn-of-the-20th-century modernist furniture designer Tommi Parzinger sends a glowing red flare of its own into the otherwise cocooning environment.

“What I love most about the house are its unpredictable moments,” says Gomez, whose taste in art is not unlike the home itself—that is, firmly anchored in tradition, but at times delightfully tangential. Although she has yet to acquire a highly coveted portrait by French artist Thierry Guetta (a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash ) of the British monarch donning aviator sunglasses, Gomez has discovered a more affordable, but no less thrilling, option by Washington, D.C. artist Josh Yöung . A print of his painting Emma in Blush —featuring the peaches-and-cream visage of a Jane Austen-esque heroine anonymized by an irreverent pink slash through her eyes—hangs in the primary bedroom, over a vintage chaise also from the 19th century, at least in spirit. Nearby, Gomez displays a rare test photo of Australian queer performance artist Leigh Bowery, taken by British figurative painter Lucian Freud . The portrait was gifted to Gomez by her mother-in-law, theater legend Maria Aitken .

But these flashes of decorative daring only make the bucolic life an even more sublime departure from gritty reality. Most days when she’s there, Gomez takes a long bath in the remodeled upstairs bathroom—an aerie that has also been thoughtfully appointed with vintage rugs and modern art, plus a Victoria + Albert tub made of lightweight acrylic instead of the traditional cast iron to prevent a calamitous crash through the floor boards. She then admires the most transcendent view the house has to offer, which is nothing but weather and treetops. “We still can’t believe we’re here, and that this house belongs to us,” Gomez says. “It’s like we’re waiting for the real homeowners to show up any minute.”

Even though Michelle Gomez considers herself a lifelong urbanite, these days the Glasgow native finds true contentment in the thriving East Coast eden of leafy ash trees, jaunty wildflowers, and vegetables aplenty. She and her husband, actor Jack Davenport, purchased their creaky, colonial-era clapboard Litchfield County, Connecticut, house in the dead of winter—foliage unseen.

As the most frequented gathering place in the house, the living room has constant fire burning in the hearth, no matter what season. So, once you pick a book off the shelf and call dibs on one of the oversized buttery leather club seats, the idea of being ensconced anywhere else in the house pales in comparison. The chairs—found at an auction—were originally outfitted with twin-size trundle beds until they were removed in favor of more robust cushioning. A rare Tommi Parzinger abstract painting adds a different kind of fiery energy without wood logs to this otherwise quiet room.

“I don’t often want to put rugs under dining tables,” Jennifer Chused says. “I’m always afraid they’ll get stained, but that’s the great thing about a multicolor vintage Persian rug—they disguise spills.” By day, the dining room doubles as Harry’s art center, so the rug has camouflaged everything from paint splatter to chalk dust to spilled ink. By night, the room assumes its original function as a place to dine and wine—the double-drawer corner chest usually holds the best liquor options in Litchfield County.

Gomez’s standard protocol for good-weather gatherings is simple: Garden, games, grub. “The garden becomes the dining room, there’s badminton and croquet on the lawn, and we do most of our cooking outside on the grill,” she says. “We’ve got a great community out here.” The kitchen leads to a bluestone patio, where an entertaining table—this one covered with a block-printed Phlora textile from Layla in Brooklyn—is usually set up with all the implements necessary for a roaming outdoor repast.

Departing from the “perfect off-white” wall color in the rest of the house, Card Room Green paint by Farrow & Ball gives the primary bedroom a serene quality, a mood underscored by languorous nudes, including a test photo of queer performance artist Leigh Bowery taken by British painter Lucian Freud, situated on the mantle. A pair of vintage club chairs, covered in ticking stripe, make for a provincial interlude amid the moody boudoir photography.

The actress Michelle Gomez ( Doctor Who , Doom Patrol ) chose a print titled Emma in Blush by Washington, D.C. artist Josh Yöung for this corner of the primary bedroom. Like another one of her favorite artists, Thierry Guetta (a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash), Yöung disrupts the idea of classical portraiture with intentional vandalism, a tense dichotomy that Gomez gravitates toward when choosing art.

In its former life, the upstairs bath was a forlorn space of dingy honeycomb floor tiles and generic porcelain furnishings. With a few sensible improvements—cost-effective plank wood walls, dirt-disguising navy blue Clé hexagonal tiles, and a lightweight acrylic tub from Victoria + Albert—the peaceful sanctuary with treetop views is now the most sought-after room in the house. “Rumor has it that people actually vie for bath time in there,” designer Jennifer Chused says.

At Gomez’s request, the matching wood twin beds in her 11-year-old son’s room were part of the purchase price of the house. Apropos of an avid skier, vintage pillows and wool blankets underscore a mountain lodge vibe, while wall-to-wall sisal stands up to tween amounts of wear and tear.

What started as a guest bedroom turned into Jack Davenport’s pandemic-era office. A Jenny Lind daybed, dressed with a mashup of patterned vintage textiles, makes a comfortable place for reading and napping, while black and white photos of Davenport’s parents, multi-hyphenate talent Maria Aitken ( The 39 Steps , A Fish Called Wanda ) and the late actor Nigel Davenport (A Man for All Seasons , Chariots of Fire ), provide an enduring sense of legacy in the scion’s space.

If it acts like a mudroom and looks like a mudroom, just remember it may not actually be a mudroom, at least originally. By simply adding a built-in bench with storage underneath it, Chused solved the case of the no-mudroom house by turning the entrance of the living room into an intake zone for skiers to shed all of their wet gear before trudging through the house.

When the land is leafy and green, the pool is simultaneously sparkling and blue. The seasonal pairing also coincides with a thriving vegetable patch, blooming wildflowers, and a parade of visitors.

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