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cottage rescue

Dovecote owner Sarah Kaplan uses an 18th-century cobbler's cottage in Redding as a design laboratory
and a cozy place to call home

Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, November 2005 - As a child growing up in Toledo, Ohio, Sarah Kaplan would cringe as her mother dragged her from one antique shop to the next. "I hated it," she recalls. Her family lived on 12 acres in a tastefully refurbished horse barn decorated by her mother.

"She had the most beautiful taste," Kaplan says. "It was simple, not pretentious." These days, Kaplan trolls antique shops twice a week, plucking out brilliant finds and placing them in Dovecote, her Westport store, which she continually arranges and rearranges with creative director Corey Tippin. How shocked little Sarah Kaplan would have been if she'd known that one day she'd choose to antique for a living.

WINE PUNCH | A david Hicks fabric from Groundworks (above) gives a colorful and geometric kick to the sun room. The vintage Mies van der Rohe coffee table is by Knoll. FUR ON FUR | In the sitting room of Sarah Kaplan and Robert Aldrich's 18th-century Redding cottage (left), Ulysses and Dexter hold court on a Mies van der Rohe daybed covered with a faux fur throw from Dovecote. POOL PALACE | Before its renovation, the pool house (below) had grass growing in it and large boulders hidden under its second level. After adding zebra wall covering, sisal flooring and custom drapes, the space looks like something straight out of the legendary New York City nightclub El Morroco. On a lucite chair found in Palm Beach, Dexter looks at a ceramic greyhound that Kaplan discovered on one of her many antique trips.

Also like her mother, Kaplan lives in a home filled with unpretentious style. In her 1760s Redding estate, interior design and decorating are never intellectualized or taken too seriously. "I just like what I like," she admits. "I'm not a purist. Sometimes I like things that are ultra-modern. Sometimes I like things that are old and French, or I'll be attached to a particular color. I just think that at various times different things look good, for whatever reason."

In the sitting room, a Mies van der Rohe daybed sits comfortably next to a stone fireplace under the original low, beamed ceilings. In the sun-filled kitchen, painted a bright white, an old French chandelier hangs over streamlined metal bar stools. In the sunroom, a rippling male torso found in Palm Beach flexes ove a $30 stone horse head found at a flea market.

"She has an incredible affinity for finding stuff," says Tippin, a former stylist who handles the visuals in the store and helped Kaplan redo her Redding home in time for a party this summer. He recalls when she brought home a ceramic greyhoun on one of her forays. "It was kind of kitsch, but I liked it," he says, "and then we put it in the poolhouse, and it looks fantastic."

Both Kaplan and Tippin share a background in fashion. Kaplan was a buyer for Neiman Marcus in Dallas, and then for Barneys in New York. (Her husband is Robert Aldrich, president of Giorgio Armani North America.) continued...

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