Marsha Mason’s ‘New York Loft in a Hayfield’

Marsha Mason’s ‘New York Loft in a Hayfield’
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Marsha Mason’s ‘New York Loft in a Hayfield’

Marsha Mason’s ‘New York Loft in a Hayfield’

From the front, Marsha Mason’s house in Washington, Connecticut is as modest as it gets – low slung, with small windows – no reason to stop and stare longingly.

“It sounds very modest,” said the equally modest, four-time Oscar nominee Ms Mason, 79 (including for 1973’s “Cinderella Liberty” and “The Goodbye Girl”) from 1977, who plays Arlene. in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie”, now in production for its final season.

But stroll around the back, and that’s a whole different story: a floor-to-ceiling expanse of glass framed in gray cedar and a patio with a living and dining area that spans the width of the room. rectilinear structure, making the great outdoors feel part of the great interior (and vice versa).

Think of the eight-acre house and setting as Mrs. Mason’s third act.

After more than two decades in Abiquiu, New Mexico, where she built a 7,000 square foot home and art barn, and started a business specializing in organic herbal medicines, Ms. Mason was eager to cut back on her costs. numbers and refocus its attention on theatrical work. – in particular the staging.

Occupation: Actor and director

Sense of direction: “I feel that getting more serious as a theater manager came out of building houses. It’s all about pre-production.

Certainly, she has fond memories and no regrets.

“When I moved to New Mexico, the world of cinema was changing. It was getting very youth oriented and the roles weren’t happening as much as they used to be, ”she said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. In some ways, I was going through a bit of an identity crisis. What Abiquiu was about maturing and becoming a full human being, in the sense that I had my job in show business and a lot of other different jobs.

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“It was an interesting place for all these years,” she added. “Gene Hackman lived there while I was there. Jane Fonda lived there. And my friend Shirley MacLaine lived on a mountain across the road. She had come down to my house for Christmas dinner on a golf cart disguised as Santa Claus.

In 2014, Ms Mason sold the 247-acre property and returned to the New York City area, where she typically owned or rented an apartment even after moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s with her second husband, playwright Neil. Simon. (The marriage ended in 1983.)

This time, she decided to hang her hat in western Connecticut, where she had friends in the area. Briefly under consideration was a large house with many rooms, many nooks and crannies. “Then I thought, ‘No, I’m not going to have something that size anymore,’ recalls Ms. Mason. “But I asked the owners if they would sell the hay field that was attached to the house, and they agreed.”

It took a while to conceptualize this, the fourth house she would build from scratch. (The others were in New Mexico and Los Angeles.) But Ms. Mason was clear on some points long before the arrival of heavy machinery: she wanted everything to be on one floor and manageable in size. She wanted solar panels (but didn’t want to see them), radiant heat, a large room, a “really nice bathroom” and a guest bedroom opposite her own quarters.

“The design grew out of it all,” Ms. Mason said of the resulting 2,600 square foot contemporary, which she likes to characterize as a “New York loft in a hayfield.”

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“I find that in general it’s the details that set things apart – what type of door you choose or what type of sconce,” she said, offering the example of the bright red bookcase that houses d ‘on one side a television screen and, on the other, serves as a gallery space for several paintings. “I knew I wanted to do certain things like this.”

The house is a study of contrasts: simple exterior and – thanks to a wealth of furniture and art from around the world and different stages of her life and career – vibrant and eclectic interior. Here, a 19th century Spanish chair; there, a sofa by Design Within Reach. There, a French campaign office.

Twenty-five years ago, when Ms. Mason was honored at a film festival in Egypt, she went shopping and brought back a game table with parquet inlays and mosaic chairs. These made their way from New Mexico to Connecticut. A pair of spindle chairs with rush seats and leather cushions was purchased for the Bel-Air house which she shared with Mr. Simon. After the couple broke up, she kept the chairs, which have since been fitted with crushed velvet pillows.

The Tulip dining table and chairs were purchased after the divorce when she moved into a co-op in Central Park West. They are now in a corner with a living abstract and a painted wooden sculpture of a mother and child that was part of the decor during her years with Mr. Simon.

Three wooden female figures from Thailand and a wooden head of a king with a joyful face from one of Ms. Mason’s trips to India are exhibited at the top of the Stûv fireplace which dominates the great room. A statue of Ganesh is on sentry in the hallway in front of his room.

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Behind the desk’s antique rosewood desk are shelves with matching trophies, including two Golden Globes. And perhaps because distraction is always welcome when folding towels and sheets, a wall in the laundry room is devoted to framed quotes and photographs of Ms. Mason’s daughters-in-law, of her with her father and of her. ‘her with Paul Newman. The two became quick friends thanks to their shared passion for motor racing. “He finally invited me to Lime Rock, here in Connecticut, his home track, and I drove one of his GTs,” she recalls.

“The sink where I wash myself after I do my gardening is here in the laundry room,” Ms. Mason said. “So I see these images every day. “

Moving into the house required winnowing, she said. Much has been dumped or left for the new owner in Abiquiu.

“This place,” she added, “reflects my feeling of aging and ‘what do you need? not ‘what do you want?’ It’s a few beautiful pieces as opposed to a lot of beautiful pieces – the whole psyche of simplification.

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