Building a Legacy

Photographs by Roger William Photography
Above: A Cornerstone-built pool house

George Pusser

Cornerstone Contracting is hitting a major milestone this fall—the Cos Cob-based company will be marking twenty-five years in business this November. It all began when owner and president George Pusser, who was a builder in Texas for eight years before moving to the Northeast, formed Cornerstone in 1992. In the two-plus decades since, the award-winning firm has become known for constructing elegant and sophisticated custom homes and consistently exceeding client expectations by successfully adapting to the ever-changing building industry. Staying up-to-date with the latest home technology and building materials and promoting an environment of true collaboration have been keys to Cornerstone’s success. “Our clients have the same goal we do—to build a home that they will be living in, most of the time for many years, and raising a family in,” Pusser says. “We like when clients are more involved instead of less. It makes the process better.”

Having completed over ninety-three projects since its founding, Cornerstone takes on five to six projects at a time, and the work can range from commissions in the city to contemporary and traditional residences to office buildings to compounds with multiple structures. “Our projects have been every kind, shape and form, and designed by many different architects,” Pusser says.

This home is just one example of Cornerstone’s impressive portfolio of work.

With more than forty employees and a team of fifteen managers, the firm offers pre-construction services, general contracting and construction management, and an inclusive team approach is essential, especially since most projects take multiple years to complete. “What sets us apart is the way we structure our projects,” Pusser says. “If the team members—the clients, architects, designers, engineers, Cornerstone—have the same goals and mindset, that’s the most advantageous for everyone involved.”

When reflecting back on the firm’s history, loyalty emerges as a common theme. “Our average employee has been with us for fifteen years, and I’ve worked with most of our clients throughout the twenty-five years,” Pusser says. “For projects I did in 1992, I’ve been back two or three times to renovate baths, kitchens, additions, landscaping and pools. We maintain properties in some capacity after they’re finished.”

Cornerstone’s longevity in an ever-evolving field is impressive. “Adapting to the different types of building and to technology that’s constantly changing have been real challenges, but very interesting ones.”

301 Valley Road, Cos Cob; 203-861-4200;



By Design

Photographs courtesy of Schwartz design

This past fall, a new go-to destination for the latest in lighting, fine furniture and home accessories arrived in Stamford. Catering exclusively to the trade, the new SCHWARTZ DESIGN SHOWROOM, located in the city’s up-and-coming Waterside Design District, found the perfect site to set up shop. “To get in at the ground level and be a part of this design area was a tremendous opportunity,” says owner Alexis Varbero. “The idea was to bring something different and unique to the marketplace.”

With a highly successful showroom that’s been thriving in New Jersey for decades, this second location was an ideal way to provide more convenient access for designers in Connecticut and Westchester County. “The design community is so established here, so I’m really choosing to be complementary,” says Varbero. “We’re coming in with a more contemporary feel.” Anchored by Century Furniture, the showroom carries covetable lines such as Dan Parish, Shine by S.H.O and Wesley Hall.

Situated on a corner, the window-lined space receives a tremendous amount of natural light, an enviable benefit when working with colors and textures. The open and airy environment also invites and encourages collaboration. “I want designers to feel as though they can use the space as their work station and come in with clients,” says Varbero. “We’re here to support them.”

That support can run the gamut, from hunting down a particular type of fabric to answering questions about how to run a profitable firm. As an American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Industry Partner, the showroom will host continuing education courses for designers and architects as well as trend presentations, lunch-and-learns with vendors, and business seminars.

With access to knowledgeable staff and sought-after lines, designers can feel confident they’re in good hands. “We’re selling very high-end products to very savvy consumers,” says Varbero. “Our mission is to collaborate and partner with them.”


To successfully play with trends while maintaining a timeless look, “you always
want to stick to classics,” says Alexis Varbero. here, Three trends on her radar

“Manufacturers are taking utilitarian elements such as hardware and incorporating them into the design
of a piece. It adds a really unexpected level of detail, and I’m loving it.”


“One thing I’m seeing all over is gold, whether it’s gold metal, finishes, in fabrics. It’s the trend that never ends. Because white is so hot this season, we’re seeing an amazing combination of white and gold.”


“For so long, everything was so square. Now we’re incorporating elements that are a bit more traditional into something a bit more contemporary.”