Architect David Lawrence Brown’s Normandy Chateau in Alpine NJ

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Drifting through the Normandy chateau built by architect-cum-artisan David Lawrence Brown, AIA, one is transported from inspiration to inspiration. One can almost breathe in the fragrant vineyards of the countryside that rests on the border between France and Italy when passing the tapestried foliage in four shades of green. Upon entering the home, the marble montage flooring whispers that this story is just beginning, and its protagonist is a world traveler who has brought back the beauty of the ages from the corners of the Earth to make this abode reflect the very vastness and possibility of the world.

In an effort to recreate techniques from bygone eras, men worked with their hands to craft each antique beam, milled on site, before accenting the ceiling with them. Antique pieces became fixtures around which a room would be custom built to deliver a unique sense of the piece of the world that inspired it. Not to be pigeon-holed by time or place, the highly transitional home houses spaces such as the kitchen capable of eliciting fine cuisine, from two generous islands and near-limitless space for provisions hidden behind beautiful leaded glass doors. Countertops and cabinets were, again, built onsite by men working for the house and with the house to bring forth the best of modern efficiency, while maintaining the best of craftsmanship and aesthetic from the past 400 years. Meanwhile, custom touches such as edgy lighting fixtures, designed and executed by the architect himself, draw the eye and spirit seamlessly from space to space.

Surveying the home to discern what materials were used here and what decisions were made there is one thing, but the home’s most basic function is in service of its occupants. Nowhere in the home is this done more superbly than in the duplex lady’s wardrobe, which venerates what it means to be a modern woman who takes pride in what she has; the wardrobe longs to see her heels, bags, hats and clothing displayed with the same respect for style that drew her to them in the first place.

Cavalli-inspired shoe displays allow for her shoes to be seen at the perfect 45-degree angle, and all pieces are approximately four-to-five feet off of the ground to allow for optimal viewing and accessibility. One does not simply get dressed for the day in such a space; one emerges from it ready for any task no matter how minute or monumental.

In unproved hands, such splendor and effulgence might be done with a superfluous air because those hands had not drawn and redrawn, selected and returned, burned from the heat and cracked from the cold. Looking out from the turret, one can imagine Brown tirelessly withstanding wind and snow to personally oversee the development from the trenches where the foundation was laid all the way up to the Vermont slate roof, which is pitched at an angle unfound anywhere in the region to create just that much more drama and to add to the elegance of the home. One can hear his response when those with less inspiration ask him why it matters if the roof is pitched differently or the counters beveled just so. His response is that of the protagonist, the artisan, the aficionado; it is the response you would give…“Because it does.”

For more information about this home on the market, visit the official listing.

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Photography by Jeremy Cook

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