The Appliance of Science

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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty takes a lesson in domestic engineering as well as comfortable living in New Canaan, CT.

“Vorsprung durch Technik”, or “Advancement through technology”, is the well-known ethos behind Audi motorcars.  Apparently it is writ large within the carmaker’s factory at Ingolstadt in Germany.

I thought of this as I was introduced to 1385 Smith Ridge Road, New Canaan, CT.  This newly built house hasn’t been so much constructed as beautifully engineered. Nor does the label ‘builder’ quite fit Max Abel, the man behind its construction.  He is more a master engineer who also happens to have a passion for creating homes that are comfortable, impressive and attractive. In short they work on all levels.  This one certainly does. No detail has been ignored or missed however out of sight it may be.  This is because, even if the new owner or visitor doesn’t know it’s there, Mr Abel does.

I am one of those people who is naturally drawn to the aesthetics of a home – the architectural look and interior design are important, rather than how it all works – as significant as this is nowadays.  But I have always been like that.  As a boy with a construction toy I tended to ignore the instructions and started building right away. In the end, despite having all sorts of odd parts left over, the result did look pretty much like the picture on the box.  So here in New Canaan I suppose I was taking in the magnificent layout and finish more than learning about what it takes to make the house tick so well on a technical level.  For that you do need really detailed instructions – and the discipline to follow them.  Or, better still, an enthusiastic tutorial from engineer-in-chief, Max Abel.

But there is no chance here of any bits being left over.  This is the sort of place where a rivet was used when only a screw was needed, and a screw used when only a nail was needed.  I won’t go on about all these matters as there are those far better qualified to explain.  But it is all very energy-efficient, hi-tech and built to last.  Were I the owner I could even operate all the lighting in the house from my office in London or wherever in the world I happened to be!

That said, it was all those interior design details that so impressed me. The marble worktops in the vast and so well planned kitchen are a triumph.  The space, and the use of it, throughout the house is very impressive. And, in the butler’s pantry/utility area, antique glass has been used as a design detail.  Why?  Because it gives instant age, patina and depth to a brand new house.  It is these well-thought-out details, large and small, that make this such a terrific house above stairs. Of course the devil is also in the detail below stairs, and for that Mr Abel is, I assure you, very able indeed.  Vorsprung durch technik, as they could very well say in these very special 4 acres of Connecticut.


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