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A REVERENCE FOR ECOLOGY GUIDES THE STYLE OF THIS
LAKESIDE HOME, FILLED WITH ORGANIC MATERIALS AND
TREASURES FROM A LIFETIME OF NATURE WALKS.
W R I T T E N B Y SARAH EGGE P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y LAURA MOSS P R O D U C E D B Y KARIN LIDBECK-BRENT
PERCHED HALFWAY DOWN A HILLSIDE that slopes into North Spectacle Lake in Connecticut, Joanna and Bill Seitz’s cedar-shingle house seems to crouch among the native trees and bushes. Windows and French doors open wide to embrace the view, and porches and patios extend rooms to make the garden flowers and grassy lawn and lapping water seem touchable.
“My favorite place in the house is probably the big screen porch,” Joanna says. “I love being out there playing with my grandson and feeling the breeze that comes up from the lake.” It’s ftting that an indoor outdoor space is where Joanna spends precious time. She has constructed a career out of encouraging clients of her home furnishings store, J. Seitz & Co., to bring the outdoors in. For Joanna, the barriers should be as minimal as possible.
“I’ve always loved being in the woods, walking, watching the animals and birds, and just being out of doors,” she says. “And I love bringing nature inside the house.” Vintage taxidermy birds, mounted antlers, paintings depicting jungle scenes, potted plants of all varieties, textiles depicting flora and fauna, even a lamp base that looks like a twisting snake are all fodder for Joanna’s decorating. When she and Bill built this house in 2004 with the help of architect Peter Kurt Woerner, they outlined their passion for nature and requested local materials. 
The trio was inspired by the property, which had been a summer camp for kids long ago. Only a couple of bathhouses remained. (“All the other buildings composted themselves,” Joanna says with a laugh.) They were able to save one to use as a guesthouse then designed the main house in its image, with twin peaked roofs united by a porch. Granite pieces and mossy stones from the property were unearthed and reused for the pathways, walls, and pool escarpment.
Inside, floors were fashioned from random-width oak boards milled down the road in Cornwall, Connecticut. Joanna had them given a minimal clear coat in a matte fnish to allow the wood’s innate color and grain to be prominent. For paint colors, Joanna relied on white, creamy whites, barely tans, and a subtle green-gray the color of the lake water. “I like a more serene palette,” she says. “I like browns and greens and the colors of the soil, sky, stones, rocks, and shells.”
Decorating inspiration also comes from natural surroundings the couple encounters when they travel. They have a second home in Santa Fe, and they bring back artifacts from their walks there, from Bill’s
O P P O S I T E , T O P L E F T Antique Buddhas mingle with potted plants in front of a contemporary Dutch painting. The table is peroba wood, which Bill and Joanna bought in Brazil along with the large pots. O P P O S I T E , T O P R I G H T Joanna welcomes the frequent visits of her daughter, Amanda, and grandson, Dakota. Amanda also works at the family’s retail and interior design company, J. Seitz & Co., choosing the furnishings and fashions that rely on the natural materials Joanna prefers for her decor. A B OV E Joanna and Bill had reclaimed chestnut beams installed in the cozy den, where a Belgian linen sofa joins a metal faux bois coffee table, and the curtains depict wild animals. L E F T Natural materials mingle in the living room, including the sisal rug, feldstone hearth, and live-edge teak coffee table. The sofas are covered in Belgian linen, one punctuated by a vintage Kantha cloth from India. On top of a pair of Belgian cupboards, Joanna displays taxidermy birds that decorated her grandfather’s sporting goods stores in the 1940s
A B OV E Joanna selected paint colors from a neutral palette and had the oak floors given just a clear coat of polyurethane. A new table with clean, classic lines bridges the styles of the modern chairs and antique armoire. The table’s top is covered in zinc, which will weather over time. O P P O S I T E An antique table made from Brazilian peroba wood is the gather-round spot in the warm and inviting kitchen, where Joanna cooks vegan meals. She props paintings against the backsplash but leaves the windows and their view of the lake clear. A deep apron-front sink and cupboards designed with bun feet lend the kitchen an unftted look and a charming country feeling.
L E F T French doors that reach almost floorto-ceiling open to a stone patio. Architect Peter Kurt Woerner placed the main living spaces and the master bedroom across the back of the house to enjoy views of the lake. A vintage stool from Asia is a handy table. B E L OW Twin stools in front of the bathtub are covered in vintage goat hair. Handmade from a natural material, they’re just the sort of thing that catches Joanna’s eye. O P P O S I T E A series of mounted
antlers, a lamp base depicting a snake, and an overscale print of a raven on the linen pillow form a decorative menagerie in the master bedroom. Joanna dresses the carved mahogany bed with linens picked up on their travels, such as the striped Mexican textile from Santa Fe.
fly-fshing jaunts, and even from frequent visits to Paris, the south of France, Rome, and Venice, where they source items for the store.
Their desire to be immersed in nature is echoed in their travel philosophy: “Bill and I love to walk one end of a city to another to submerge ourselves in the deepest layers of what a culture is all about,” Joanna says. They bring treasures back, and whatever doesn’t go to the store, Joanna fts in at home. “In the dining room, I have an old South American armoire, a handmade zinc table, modern chairs, and a chandelier designed like twigs,” she says. “I just love that mix.” 

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