If you’re a warm weather person like myself, live in the Northeast, and have a birthday in December, you may not be too thrilled about celebrating. After all, aren’t Sagittarians known for their sense of adventure? No wonder I always want to be sticking my toes in the warm sand of the tropics come this time of year. This birthday was a big one though, so being close to family and friends was important. As much as I resisted having the attention on me, Stefaan had planned the most wonderful dinner party I ever could have imagined.

Family friends Matthew Preston and Nils Wiesenmüller, of Bridgeport Design Group, bought two properties on the coast in Stratford, CT. Located on the beach just north of Bridgeport, the area seems somewhat random, that is until you spend some time getting to know it. Matt and Nils hired Stefaan’s extraordinarily talented Mom, Janis Melone, to design the interiors of both houses, which immediately transport you far the from stress of everyday life. We arrived just before sunset on a surprisingly warm day (lucky me), in time to see the views out the windows which overlook the Long Island Sound. After exploring the beach, we entered the house to find the last surprise of the day.


Years ago, Matthew hired Janis and her partner Bryan Smallman to design and build a table from one massive slice of English Elm. The wood had beautiful grain and a distinctive knot on what would be the surface of the table. From the moment Stefaan and I set eyes on it, we were in love. Although we didn’t have a place to put it, we dreamt that one day we would have one just like it, because to us, it was the perfect table. As we entered the cottage and walked into a mostly empty room, there it was.  He had brought this table here for me; it belonged to us now.  It was to be the centerpiece of our lives together, and tonight would be the first of many dinners sitting around it.  I’ll never forget that moment in time.

We feasted around the table surrounded by our favorite people. It was a beachside birthday to remember. 

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