“I love creating new places,” says Lauri Weinman, walking along a path outside the home she shares with her husband,Michael, tailed by white terriers Lily and Frazier. “And I love old places, too.” That love for the new and old is reflected in the European-style country house the couple dubbed “Peace and Plenty 2” (the original is the couple’s home in St. John’s). The home feels as though it’s always been there, even though it was constructed in 2001. Designed jointly by Lauri, a former interior designer, and architect Lee Coplan of Hord Coplan Macht, it was intended not to represent a specific architectural style, but to cater to Lauri and Michael’s needs.
Though the house itself is large— almost 8,000 square feet— comfortable furnishings and an abundance of personal mementos imbue it with a homey feel. When consulting with Coplan, a close family friend, Lauri, 64, asked that the rooms be large enough to accommodate family and friends, but small enough to be intimate.
The front door enters into a marble-tiled rotunda that leads to a central hallway that spans the depth of the house. Against the rear wall of windows, an 18-foot Christmas tree is placed every year for the couple’s two holiday parties, one a large gathering and the other, The Queen’s Ball, a more intimate affair for very close friends and family— who dress in gowns. “The whole house looks beautiful when decorated for Christmas,” says Coplan. “It’s a great house for a party!”
To the left of the entryway is the library, painted in hunter green and lined with dark mahogany bookshelves on which Lauri keeps almost every book she’s owned since childhood. On the coffee and end tables, the couple display some of the many relics they’ve gathered on travels to Africa, Spain and elsewhere. Zebra-striped pillows and blankets and Africaninspired wallpaper appear here, as throughout the house— more reminders of the couple’s extensive travels. A large painting of a lion, done by Botswanan artist Shirley Greene, is propped atop the mantel; another lion painting, created by Lauri’s grandson, Kevin, hangs in the rotunda.
Since Lauri and Michael’s 13 grandchildren are frequent visitors to the home, Lauri wanted them to have their own space. Tucked underneath the stairs near the library are two closets originally designed for storage that were converted into playrooms/spy headquarters. A sign reading “FBI” hangs on the door of one closet, and inside bright drawings of houses decorate the walls. The children are allowed to draw whatever they like on the walls— directly on the walls— says Lauri, as long as it’s artistic. Upstairs, one of the three bedrooms is set aside for the grandchildren. There, five antique beds are arranged in the room like something out of a Victorian novel, so the kids can all sleep together.
Situated at the rear of the home, with a view of the hillside garden, is the living room, painted a deep red and decorated in a cheerful mixture of blues, pinks and reds. A large mirror hangs above the mantelpiece; Lauri acquired it from a friend who’d recently bought a house and couldn’t find a place for it. From the living room, a set of French doors leads to the conservatory, a warm, bright space filled with tropical plants and comfortable couches where Lauri and Michael often have cocktails or watch snowfalls in the winter. Accessible through another set of French doors is a rose and hydrangea garden, another of Lauri’s ongoing projects. “I never was a plant person,” says Lauri, “but I always wanted a rose garden and now I try to add something new each year.” The small garden, surrounded by rose-covered trellises, feels like a private garden near an English country house.
Across the central hallway, a large blue-and-white kitchen offers ample space for cooking and entertaining. The flooring is made from a stone similar to the coral found in St. John’s. A collection of plates from Spain, Mexico and Morocco decorates the wall above the red upholstered sofa, and a tile mural depicting a bakery scene serves as a backsplash above the stove.
French doors on either side of the large fireplace lead to a sunroom whose many windows offer a view of the pool and the elegant Greek-inspired pool house, designed by Coplan to be both functional and attractive. The landscaping here and all around the house, consisting of artfully arranged trees, shrubs and flowering plants, was done by Carol Macht, also of Hord Coplan Macht.
The game room, which occupies a wing off the main house, is reached through a window-lined hallway that runs across the front of the house. The large, sunny room features both a pool table and ping-pong table, and is a frequent destination for the grandchildren. But it was also designed so that when Lauri and Michael can no longer climb the stairs to the second floor, they can convert this room into their bedroom. More of Lauri and Michael’s collected objects are displayed here, including an intricately carved Moroccan table and a wall of photographs of the couple on their globetrotting adventures.
“The things in this house I have collected since I was 20 years old,” says Lauri. “When you get to be 64, you say, ‘Lauri, it’s time to stop collecting!’”