Arnie and Elizabeth Lizan like to color outside the lines--a predisposition evident the moment you step inside their stately Greek Revival home in Bellport, New York. While the exterior may seem formal and restrained, the interiors are more Picasso than predictable.
Built in 1838 and at one time dilapidated and nearly demolished, the handsome structure now radiates graciousness and informality. The exterior may express grandeur, but inside, formal attire is not required. In fact, it's heartily discouraged.
"I've always wanted to be like the old woman in the shoe," laughs Elizabeth. "This house really satisfies that need. We invite people for a week, and we keep them for two. I'm so happy we were able to bring it to life. It's just a happy house."
Andy Warhol's multihued homage to Marilyn Monroe seems perfectly at home among the library's traditional furnishings, swags, and bright Prussian blue walls.
While traditional architecture is honored, the couple's love for art takes center stage. Since their serendipitous encounter on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1992, their lives have revolved around that passion. Art consultants (Lizan Tops Contemporary is based in New York City), they sold their art gallery in East Hampton in 2004 and relocated.
But while they fell head-over-heels for Bellport and this Greek Revival home, they had one concern--pairing a contemporary art collection with classic 19th-century architecture. The solution? Pick up the phone and call New York designer and close friend Jamie Drake, a man who knows a thing or two about historic homes but has a Picasso-worthy trick or two up his sleeve as well--not to mention an eclectic roster of clients ranging from Madonna to New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Jamie has a flamboyant, colorful side," says Elizabeth. "We wanted to take a traditional house and add something contemporary and edgy. He was the perfect person to do that." Perfect, because he's also not a stay-inside-the-lines kind of guy.
In the front parlor--accessible to the library through pocket doors--Drake used a slightly deeper blue to complement the library and allow the room to hold its own in the company of two powerful pieces. One, an ornate mirror, was purchased by the home's original owner and deeded with the property. The second, Flumequine by artist Damien Hirst, is flanked by a pair of 18th-century Italian chairs dressed in delicate floral fabric.
The dining room's icy blue palette and Greek Key molding were inspired by one of the designer's most well-known projects--Gracie Mansion, official residence of the mayor of New York City. A 19th-century mantel, marbleized wainscoting, and shimmering chandelier create a formal environment, despite the fact that most of the entertaining here involves bare feet hiding under the lavish folds of the silk table skirts.
Upstairs, Arnie and Elizabeth can't quite commit to a master bedroom--they move from one bedroom to the next, depending on their mood. A favorite at the moment is a strikingly offbeat bedroom tucked under the eaves on the third floor. "It's dreamlike," says Drake. "We covered the walls and ceiling with a lavender grasscloth."
Quintessential Drake--amethyst upholstery adds an exotic touch to the lavender bedroom.