The Greek Revival charmer that’s home to the husband-and-wife actors Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry looks modest from the road, rather like a playhouse for a sophisticated child.
“We love that — our friends keep forgetting what we have here,” said Ms. Eikenberry, who starred for eight seasons (from 1986 to 1994) with Mr. Tucker on the NBC series “L.A. Law,” and who is currently part of the ensemble cast of “Fern Hill,” a comedy-drama about (in no particular order) love, friendship, aging and sex, written by none other than her husband. The Off Broadway production, at 59E59 Theaters, runs through Oct. 27.
But as you walk through the cozy original structure, built in 1838, and head slightly west toward the 2009 addition — dining room and spacious, airy kitchen with French doors — the house, in Easton, Conn., seems to unfold while smoothly bridging centuries.
The blend of old and new is precisely what appealed to the couple, who also own a renovated and expanded 360-year-old farmworker’s cottage n the Italian region of Umbria.
“I couldn’t decide whether I wanted something really rustic and woodsy and almost primitive-feeling, or if I wanted something finished and wonderfully done, where we could just walk in and feel everything was beautiful,” Ms. Eikenberry said. “Well, we got both, because on one half of the house we have the big, old plank floors and the small rooms that have a magic, and on the other side, because of the renovation by the previous owner, we have comfort and ease and light.”
She added: “We’ve created our own houses before. This one felt as though it were created for us.”
Michael Tucker, 74, and Jill Eikenberry, 72
Occupations: He’s an actor, author and playwright; she’s an actor
Love at first sight: “We were walking around the property, and I’m whispering to Jill, ‘Honey, there are like 100 things I love about this place,’” Mr. Tucker said. “And she felt the same way.”
But as they say on infomercials, wait, there’s more. The four-and-a-half-acre property abuts a state forest, a major selling point for the couple, serious tree people who were known as the Tuckerberrys long before portmanteau celebrity names became the rage.
A kidney-shaped pool is set in a dimple of land down several stone steps. “It’s the best pool we’ve ever had. It’s like Tarzan’s pool, because it’s surrounded by trees,” Ms. Eikenberry said.
The two-story barn — “Jill’s domain,” said the uxorious Mr. Tucker — is where Ms. Eikenberry paints and plays drums. The kitchen is the realm of Mr. Tucker, an assiduous cook who has written several food-related memoirs, including “I Never Forget a Meal” and “Living in a Foreign Language.”
He’ll have you know that he also spends a good bit of time on the property’s sports court. “Now I know it’s hard to think of me playing basketball,” Mr. Tucker said. “But I was once 6-foot-4.”
He and Ms. Eikenberry moved from New York to California for “L.A. Law,” and at one point owned a 40-acre vacation property in Big Sur, complete with horses, and a house in Mill Valley. But eventually the carrying costs of all that real estate became burdensome. In 2005, when Ms. Eikenberry was cast in an Off Broadway show, it seemed a good time to come back East; the move had the salubrious effect of shortening the journey to the house in Italy.
They bought a two-bedroom co-op on the Upper West Side not far from the apartment they had shared in the early years of their career and life together (they married in 1973). They also rented a place right across the hall for Ms. Eikenberry’s mother, who was suffering from dementia.
“When she passed on, Jill said, ‘You know, honey, I don’t want to live here anymore,’” Mr. Tucker recalled. “And I said, ‘That’s fine.’”
“I was just talking about the apartment,” Ms. Eikenberry said. “But then it occurred to me that maybe I was talking about New York.”
And so to Easton, where they’ve lived since 2013. They had divested themselves of myriad possessions to accommodate life in tight New York quarters. Now, with room to spread out, “we needed to upsize, which is a funny thing to do at our age,” Ms. Eikenberry said.
The couple had held on to a few choice pieces, including a console table from Indonesia, a kitchen table built for their house in Mill Valley, and several custom-made lamps and art by friends and family, including paintings by Kathryn Jacobi, the wife of their “L.A. Law” colleague Richard Dysart, and a textile made by Ms. Eikenberry’s mother, who was a hobbyist weaver.
They filled in with furniture sourced on Craigslist (the two side chairs in the living room) and became familiar figures at estate sales in posh Fairfield County redoubts like Weston and Westport. A big score was a Pierre Deux dining table and chairs. “We got them for next to nothing,” Mr. Tucker said, “because the woman who was selling them had decided to redo her house.” The substantial corduroy-upholstered sofa came from a sale just up the road.
When the couple first saw the house, it was filled with period furniture, small scale for small rooms. They appreciated the attention to detail and the authenticity, but it wasn’t for them. “We tend toward big, expansive furniture,” Ms. Eikenberry said. “What we noticed was that we liked putting chunky pieces into smaller spaces.” It works.
She and Mr. Tucker have owned many houses. But, they agree, the Easton property is different: It’s fashioned for a couple. “Our kids are up and out with their own places,” Mr. Tucker said, referring to their son, Max, and Alison, his daughter from a previous marriage.
“This is what we were looking for: a place for us to be together.”