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This Casual Yet Elegant New England Getaway Is Ideal for Family Fun

By Michael McCarthy | December 21, 2020 | Home & Real Estate

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Cortney Novogratz says her family’s Berkshires getaway isn’t a true colonial, as its second-floor ceilings are as high as those on the first.

A casual yet elegant vibe sets the tone for this New England getaway and allows a large family to simply unwind and have fun.

Cortney and Robert Novogratz have built a design empire (thenovogratz.com) by listening to how clients live in their spaces. While each project features hints of the Novogratz aesthetic, clients invariably know their sanctuaries are going to feel uniquely theirs. The couple has created masterpieces from the Hollywood Hills to Trancoso, Brazil. They also designed the look and feel of the Boston East development a few years ago.

The dynamic design duo—who famously have seven children and shows on HGTV and Bravo under their belts—own a beloved vacation home in the Berkshires purchased after 9/11. It sits on roughly 1 acre with lots of 100-year-old trees on the border of Great Barrington and South Egremont, Mass. The property, built in 1917, isn’t a true colonial, says Cortney; its second-floor ceilings are as high as those on the first floor.

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The living room is the hub of the home for the musical family.

“When we bought the home, it was dusty, dark and not in great condition. The side porch was enclosed; it had once been an antique shop with an exterior wheelchair ramp and entrance sign on the outside. We put the budget into a structural beam to open up the kitchen and the main living space, making it open and spacious on the first floor. We built out the attic with proper stairs instead of a pull down, so it’s now an actual room for play and sleepovers. Then we added a pool and a hot tub, along with an in-ground trampoline.”

Above all, the family has used the getaway to build memories and as a treasure trove for items like family photos, which line nearly every inch of an upstairs hallway. Black frames hold each black-and-white photo. “The family wall started during our engagement, and we’ve never stopped. It tells our story. [There’s a picture of] my sister who passed away and my daughter who looks just like her,” says Cortney. “It allows our family to know where they came from and where we’re going. Through the years, we just keep adding to it as we grow and change.”

Cortney says the house also has become a placeholder for design pieces in between the couple’s city projects. “It’s a white blank canvas to constantly serve as an experimental space for us, which helps when we’re developing new products.”

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A hallway of memories.

The living room has become the social hub for the family. “The design goal was to create a place of gathering,” says Cortney. “We knocked down all of the walls on the first floor so it’s like one big loft but with areas for game playing, listening to music or gathering to watch a movie by the fire. Nothing is too precise, and the time spent together is cherished. This was our goal. Welove when our sons Breaker or Holleder play the piano and entertain friends or family. The mirror was a great find—nearly 200 years old from France—and our most valuable item because it means a lot to us.”

By juxtaposing their children’s art with modern masters, the couple made a conscious design choice that feels at once familial and worldly. It adds gravitas to junior artists and grounding to those who make a living via art. Throughout the home, visitors can find pieces by Adelaide Cioni, Ann Carrington, Jan Eleni, Graham Gillmore and an exquisite photo of River Phoenix by Diego Uchitel.

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Popsicle art by Adelaide Cioni (adelaidecioni.com) in the kitchen.

One space feels like it’s straight from a Wes Anderson set. “We imagined a gym like you would see in Europe,” says Cortney. “Some of us like to box or do yoga, yet it doubles as a library-work space. It’s super multifunctional, which we need with a big family.”

Nothing in this Berkshires retreat remains stagnant; it’s clear the home continues to evolve—especially its furniture and art—along with the family. “We started with four small kids, and now we have seven children and a dog,” says Cortney. “This is where we host holidays, and now our older kids host their own friends. This house holds memories of good times and hardships. It’s given us the security we needed when we bought it. It’s wrapped its arms around us time and time again, no matter how long we’ve been away from it and no matter how long we get to stay.”

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The 1-acre lot allows for plenty of recreational pursuits.



Photography by: William Waldron