RH puts its stamp on historic site

The new RH Greenwich: The Gallery at the Historic Post Office shows what you can do when you repurpose a building with intelligence and taste.

The 23,000-square-foot space, which opened in May, offers a series of galleries on home design that weds classicism with modernism. The exterior of the 1917 building has been restored by Gary Friedman, Restoration Hardware chairman and CEO, in a continuing collaboration with Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, one of Architectural Digest’s top-100 design firms.

“Great architecture is at the core of our design ethos,” Friedman said in a written statement. “Our vision is to reclaim and restore the building’s original design, and then reimagine the space, making it once again relevant and inspiring to the community.”

He has done that by continuing the classic, neoclassical elements – evident in the façade’s six 19-foot limestone Corinthian columns – inside. There, visitors enjoy a series of galleries in which spare, angular furnishings, with some overstuffed touches, meet graceful busts, antique maps, vintage clocks and birdcage and globe chandeliers.

As you sweep up the double grand staircase – note the custom-designed iron handrails inspired by the late Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa – you pause before a Dammann Frères Tea Atelier, which features offerings from a French company that dates from the time of Louis XIV. You select a tea to try and that first selection becomes the tea of the day for everyone to sample. How very civilized.

RH Greenwich isn’t all house. There’s plenty of garden, too. The 50-foot obelisk dedicated to those who served our nation in the Great War (World War I) remains the focal point of the triangular park that is the store’s entry. On the newly constructed second floor, visitors will find a rooftop park invisible from the street, in keeping with the exterior’s architectural integrity. From the 75-foot-long, skylit main room there, French doors open onto terraces graced with English boxwoods, Boston ivy and the gurgle of fountains. Back downstairs on Greenwich Avenue, the old post office loading dock has been reimagined as a European courtyard, with crushed granite, boxwood, white roses and hydrangeas bordered by mature Green Mountain sugar maples and Skyline Honeylocusts.

One thing hasn’t changed and that is the gracious service. Still, the store is a long way from the days when RH used to carry funky, nostalgic items. A very long way.

RH Greenwich is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. For more, call 203-552-1040.

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