Country Home – New York State

  • The living room is a study in soft greys and mellow burgundies, with sofas by Jonas Upholstery. The stool is 19th century, made from whale vertebrae, from Amy Perlin; the tree-trunk table is of petrified wood.

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These Manhattan clients acquired a horse farm in upstate New York and decided to build a house from scratch. We were commissioned to invent the interiors, and were involved almost from the inception. The gabled rustic stone house, with vast expanses of steel casement windows, was designed by Tasos Kokaris Architects, and is reminiscent of a country manor house designed for William Randolph Hearst in the early 20th century.

With an abundance of space to work with, the challenge was to create unity, flow and meaningful yet understated decorative relationships from room to room. This we achieved by concentrating on a repertoire of rich, resonant materials–artisanal plaster, cerused oak paneling, planed stone floors–and a muted palette of taupes and driftwood greys which, rendered in the pigmented plaster, achieve a subtle glow. Accents of burgundy, red and persimmon are provided by fabrics and objects. Dark wood floors and sisal carpeting and rugs assure continuity throughout the house.

The overall effect of these rooms is manorial, the reenactment, in 21st century America, of great country houses, both here and abroad. The public spaces invite entertaining on a grand scale, yet they never lose their warmth and dignified informality.

In furnishing these spaces, we looked to eras much earlier than his favorite late 19th and early 20th centuries. The scale and mood of the rooms seemed to demand a more massive, even rugged approach, with 16th and 17th century European carved oak chests and tables an appropriate choice. Interestingly, the use of these pieces from a remote time did not result in period rooms, but in an aura of timelessness. Combined with comfortable large sofas and club chairs upholstered in highly textured fabrics such as washed linen and chenille, the early pieces take on a new relevance, even modernity.