From the front, Marsha Mason’s home in Washington, Conn., is modest — low sloping, with small windows — no reason to stop and gawk greedily.
Four-time Oscar-nominated (including 1973’s “Cinderella Liberty” and 1977’s “The Goodbye Girl”) the role of Arlene in the Netflix series “Grace End”, the similarly humble Ms Mason, 79, said: “It Looks so simple.” Frankie,” is now in production for its final season.
But stroll backwards, and it’s a different story entirely: an expanse of floor-to-ceiling glass framed in gray cedar, and a terrace with seating and dining areas that run the width of the rectilinear structure, allowing The great outdoors becomes feel part and parcel of the great indoors (and vice versa).
Think of the home and eight-acre setting as Ms. Mason’s Act Three.
After more than two decades in Abiquiu, NM, where she built a 7,000-square-foot home and an art barn, and started a business that specialized in organic medicinal herbs, Ms. Mason turned her attention to theater work. Was eager to do and refocus. In particular, directing.
Marsha Mason, 79
Profession: actor and director
Direction sense: “I think getting more serious as a theater director came out of building houses. It’s all about the preproduction.”
Sure, she has lovely memories and no regrets.
“When I moved to New Mexico, the film business was changing. It was becoming very youth-oriented, and the roles weren’t coming as they used to,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do with my life. want to do In some ways, I was having a bit of an identity crisis. Abiquiu was about me maturing and becoming a full grown person, it was my show business job and there were lots of other, different jobs.
“It was an interesting place during all those years,” she said. “Gene Hackman lived there when I was there. Jane Fonda lived there. And my friend Shirley MacLaine lived on a mountain across the street. She would come to my house for Christmas dinner on a golf cart dressed as Santa. Was.
In 2014, Ms. Mason sold the 247-acre property and returned to the New York area, where she usually owned or lived an apartment with her second husband, playwright Neil Simon, even after moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. was hired. (The marriage ended in 1983.)
This time, he decided to hang his hat in western Connecticut, where he had friends in the area. The brief in question was a large house with many bedrooms, many nooks and many crannies. “Then I thought, ‘No, I’m not going to get something of that size again,'” Ms. Mason recalled. “But I asked the owners if they would sell the meadow attached to the house, and they agreed.”
It took a while to conceptualize, the fourth house she would be building from scratch. (Others were in New Mexico and Los Angeles.) But Ms. Mason was clear on a few points long before the heavy machinery rolled out: She wanted it all on one floor and of manageable dimensions. She wanted solar panels (but didn’t want to see them), radiant heat, a great room, a “really nice bathroom” and a guest room across from her own quarters on the opposite side of the house.
“The design evolved from all that,” Ms Mason said of the resulting 2,600-square-foot contemporary, which she is fond of portraying as “a New York loft in a meadow.”
“I think, in general, it’s the details that set things apart — what kind of door you choose or what kind of sconce,” she said, citing the example of the bright red bookcase that aside. There is a television screen and, on the other hand, serves as gallery space for several paintings. “I knew I wanted to do some things like this.”
The house is a study in contrasts: the plain exterior and – thanks to a trove of furniture and art from around the world and from different stages of her life and career – the vibrant, eclectic interior. Here, a 19th-century Spanish chair; There, a sofa from Design Within Reach. Over there, a country French bureau.
Twenty-five years ago, when Ms. Mason was being honored at a film festival in Egypt, she did some shopping and brought back a game table with wooden inlays and mosaic chairs. He made his way from New Mexico to Connecticut. A pair of Rush seats and leather-cushioned spindle chairs were bought for the Bel-Air house that he shared with Mr. Simon. After the couple separated, she kept the chairs, which have since been crafted from crushed-velvet pillows.
The Tulip dining table and chairs were bought after the divorce when she moved into a cooperative in Central Park West. They are now in a corner keeping company with a vivid abstract and 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 the wooden head of a cheerful king from one of Ms. Mason’s visits to India are displayed above the stove fireplace that dominates the great room. A Ganesha idol sits sentry in the hall outside her bedroom.
Behind the antique rosewood desk in the office are shelves with assorted trophies, two of them Golden Globes. And perhaps because distraction is always welcome when you’re folding towels and sheets, a wall in the laundry room lined up for photos of Mason’s step-daughters, with their father, and Paul Newman. Award quotes and photos are given. The two quickly became friends through their shared passion for auto racing. “They eventually invited me to their home track at Lime Rock in Connecticut, and I drove one of their GTs,” she recalled.
“The sink I wash after gardening is here in the laundry room,” said Ms. Mason. “So I look at these pictures every day.”
She said winnowing was necessary to get into the house. Many things were closed or left behind for the new owner in Abiquiu.
“This place,” she continued, “reflects my sense of aging and ‘what do you need?’ No ‘What do you want?’ It’s about a few good pieces as opposed to a lot of good pieces—the whole psyche of simplification.”