Perfectly Suited

TV & movie actor Tim DeKay knew he wanted a timeless style for his new home—Cambria helped create the look.

Written by:Louise Morgenstern
Photographed by:G. Holz & S. Henke
Tim DeKay posing in front of his kitchen featuring Cambria quartz countertops.

Cambria designs shown: Torquay™ (island) and Fieldstone™ (countertops)

Tim DeKay is not exactly GQ-ready as the FBI Agent Peter Burke in the USA Network original series, White Collar. He wears his nondescript suits like a bland uniform in the popular police procedural, now entering its sixth and final season. But while his character Burke can’t tell Armani from Old Navy, the 6-foot-2-inch DeKay is another story. He appreciates enduring style, whether it’s in clothes or architecture

Not a clotheshorse by nature, DeKay has nonetheless learned a lot about fashion during his six years on White Collar. His con man sidekick, played by Matt Bomer, has style to spare, so manufacturers send suits for possible use on the show. Tim took notice. “My style is fashionable but not trendy. I like a timeless look,” he says. “I have a Yankee mentality. Somewhere in the back of my mind—or the front of it—I’m thinking, ‘Can I still wear this in 10 years?’”

It made sense, then, for him to choose a product that can last a lifetime when he and his wife, Elisa, started choosing materials for a new home. “It’s incredible how many options one has,” Tim recalls of their two-year home-building project that ended in August 2013. “We limited our choices to companies that were environmentally conscious and Cambria was one of them. We started looking at their samples and really thought they had attractive designs, simple yet unique.” Attracted to the classic stone look, Tim and his wife Elisa wanted to remain faithful to their environmental credo, yet still attain the appearance they wanted. The DeKays were tipped off to the advantages of Cambria by their friend, actor Bryan Cranston, who chose it in the construction of his beach house. “Bryan and I did a pilot together years ago and stayed in touch,” Tim explains, citing how pleased the Cranstons had been with how the product performed, despite being steps from the sand and salt air.

Constructing a new house from the ground up was not initially on the table when the couple sought more space for themselves and their two children, Jamis, 14, and Danna, 11. “I thought we would just go buy one that was already up and running,” laughs Tim. But once he saw the 25,000-square-foot property in a leafy Los Angeles neighborhood, he was hooked, despite the overgrown trees and dilapidated house. After consulting with their architect, the DeKays realized they would have to start from scratch. The house they wanted, and were determined to create, would be a relaxed gathering place for family, friends, and the household menagerie of the Sheltie-Corgi mixed-breed dog, Spice, and Russian tortoise, Dribble. In the end, they got what they wanted, and more.

What stands today is the couple’s modern take on a classic farmhouse, with nods to Tim’s eastern roots in rural upstate New York, such as beadboard in the master bath and vintage-style lighting. They named the house “Stone Pine Farmhouse” for the numerous Stone Pine trees on the property. “‘Farmhouse’ came from our desired design and my growing up in farm country,” Tim explains.

A shot of Tim Dekay's outdoor pool and patio.

One of the perks of being a well-known actor is getting to walk the occasional red carpet, a stroll Tim enjoys. “I like getting dressed up,” says the trim 50-year-old. “It heightens the event, heightens the day.” His favorite place to assemble outfits is atop a wardrobe island in the couple’s master bath/dressing room. Topped by Cambria, it is a perfect canvas on which to test shirt and tie combinations.

But no room gets more of a workout in the DeKays’ house than the kitchen. Located at the “bend” of the L-shaped floor plan, the kitchen is the area that Elisa calls “the vortex”—mission control. A nine-foot-by-seven-foot maple island topped by Cambria in creamy Torquay takes pride of place. (Cambria’s Fieldstone covers the surrounding countertops.) “The kids love to sit at the island—and on the island,” says Tim. It serves as a dinner party buffet, baking center, homework hub, and crafts table. During one session of the latter, even a hot glue gun and green St. Patrick’s Day paint didn’t leave a mark.

The counter was recently put to the test during a birthday party for White Collar cast member Willie Garson. Guests were asked to bring a homemade dessert and they happily complied. At least 50 gooey treats were arrayed atop the island. English toffee pudding, blueberry cobbler, chocolate cream puffs, key lime pie, and dozens more—all of it easily wiped clean at the end of the evening. “Nothing penetrates it,” says Tim.

Tim Dekay's family sitting in their outdoor patio by the pool.

“This is the house where our kids will grow up,” Tim says, gazing around the room, then up at the soaring ceiling. “I hope there will be grandkids here someday.” That dream could take a couple of decades to come true, but the DeKays aren’t concerned; they’ve built their home to weather shifting tastes and trends. In design as in fashion, timeless choices never go out of style.


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