Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In The Country

When we were recently in New York on holiday, we stayed in the homes of many generous friends. Each one of them has an interesting and beautiful place that excites my visual vampiness, and I itch to take photos and blog about it all.

Living Room with Venetian plaster walls that are throughout the entire house
Click on all images for larger view and details

Lately I have also been feeling this self imposed restraint, and NOT taking photos of everyplace I see or go, and of everything I do. Part of me wants to be in the moment and not behind the camera, and part of me feels maybe it's not the most interesting blog fodder either.

Small Chinoiserie side table between white slip covered chairs

All of my friends know I blog. Some still don't really understand the point of blogging, and kindly pat me on the head as an indulgent parent might do. They see me happy, and if blogging adds to it, so be it.

We had the extreme pleasure to be invited to the country home of Tim and Robin. Both are high powered and successful in the business world. Both are gifted with a love for beauty and gracious living. Though we've been friends for over fifteen years, none of us have stayed overnight in one another's homes.

Guest Bedroom

Tim and Robin just got their country house a year ago. It's an antique house (1700's) that was moved from the Hudson Valley, to the mountains on a nineteen acre piece of old farm land. It was a spec house that remained unfinished due the dreary economy. The contractors had made some unfortunate choices, but none that were not salvaged and changed by my friends for the better.

Detail of fabric the headboard in the Guest Bedroom is upholstered with

The moment I arrived I wanted to take photos instead of socializing and catching up. I am such a blogger loser. But I self edited my behavior, but in quiet moments would snap a surreptitious photo. My friends are very well mannered, unassuming of their success, and perfectionists, so I wasn't sure they would appreciate having their home photographed before they deemed it finished. For them it is a work very much in progress, but for me it was perfection!

A little wildflower nosegay I picked on our walk

As we strolled the acreage, I snapped plein air photos, each one looking like a Hudson River School candidate. Everyone grew accustomed to my having a camera in my hands, and started to point out pretty vistas I might like to photograph.

Side table in the Guest Bedroom

At one point Tim asked me if their home and apartment were going to show up on my blog. Of course I wanted to post photos and write about my wonderful time with them, but I said if they were uncomfortable with it, I certainly would not publish a word or photo. I was assured that I could blog away, though I was to make it clear the country house was very much unfinished.

Look at this little lamb pouf! I love it! It's in the dressing room of the Guest Bedroom
And the tone on tone dot carpet is to die for!

We arrived via bus from New York City. We had traveled there from Peg's house in East Hampton via the Jitney. On all of our tango travels throughout the world we often travel by train and bus once we arrive locally.

Small antique daybed in the dressing room of the Guest Bedroom

We were given the house tour, and shown to the guest room, which is comprised of two rooms. This being an old Federal house means there were no closets, so a small adjoining room to the sleeping quarters is being used as the dressing room.

Chinoiserie screen in the dressing room, with small zinc side table
There are a couple of these magnificent screens used throughout the house

All the colors throughout the house are very beautiful. The contractors chose the stronger heritage style colors, which would not have been Tim and Robin's first choice. They are in the pale Belgian frame of mind, not that they would ever dream of decorating their homes in the vein of a themed parody. They decided to live with the color for the time being, and admit to liking it.

Dresser in the Guest Bedroom - I love the sparkle of this lamp!

Their first choices of rugs and fabrics are very pretty, and transitional in a modern way. There is a mix of antiques and new pieces, and a few mid century vintage ones too, sprinkled with a soupcon of big box style (Renovator's Supply), and accessories from some of the cute local shops. This is a departure from their very formal New York Parisian style pied a terre. Here in the country is a place to unwind and to garden and to entertain.

Damask print chair in Guest bedroom
The chair is new, though it looks antique

We dined late the night of our arrival, in the small and intimate dining room. A French rock crystal chandelier is suspended from the original rough beams overhead. The small table accommodates four, and the scale of the room makes one feel as if they're in a cozy tavern dining room in an inn of the era of the house.
The dinner was delicious, but the company was even more so.
There is no internet or cell phone service up in these mountains (The Catskills), so after some lively after dinner conversation, we all repaired to our plush beds.

Tim framed these botanical prints from the pages of a book
I love the mod century tractor chair - we're still in the Guest Room

I was told to listen for an incredible amount of morning bird song. With that in mind I snuggled deep into the down, and dreamed of beautiful things.

Click on detail for a look at the gourgeous fabric - I believe Robin said it is from Zoffnay

Morning came with silence. Where were the birds? Padding my way downstairs in search of the excellent cup of coffee Robin makes, I was told an eagle had taken perch in the yard, and all the morning birdies had smartly shied away.

Tim and Robin designed and updated the bathrooms - this is the guest bath
I love the old tin mirror, and the size of the back splash

Tim usually gardens on the weekend. But first he made us breakfast which we had on the deck overlooking a spectacular pond, mountain vistas, and rolling landscape.

We were informed that the deck is an eyesore to them, and eventually will be replaced by artful flagstone. But for the moment it's tricked out with great looking furniture and plantings.

A pretty table is always set in this household, and so it was for the rest of the meals we had in chez country. The food was delish too, and we spent hours at the table. Eventually we walked the property.

The shower in the guest bathroom is deluxe

The fields had just be mowed, no small feat. Thoughts were given to purchasing a huge thresher style mower to the tune of $12K, but it was wisely decided that the summer mowing fees done by the local yard guys would be no match for that.

The seat in the shower is great
And I love the green subway tile

This had once been a dairy and apple farm, so there are the expected weathered picturesque old barns still standing on the property. We poked around all of them, and also walked down an undulating country road for little ways. Clouds of gnats got the better if us, so we hightailed it back to the house.

A peek into the Master Bedroom

We all went to our separate corners. Alberto found the family room in the lower level. It has cool brick floors and comfy sofas. He is reviewing a book, and set himself up there to read and make notes. Tim took to the garden chores he loves so much and does so well. Some mention of stinky deer repellent and beetle traps made me let him have it. Robin was thinking about fixing dinner for us before we headed back to the city. I was snapping a few photos, and hunkering down with the book I had brought to travel with: "Shanghai Girls" by Lisa See.

The front door - Love the lanterns and the stripe runner and the color of the door

Later that afternoon we all agreed we would forgo Robin's excellent dinner since we were still satiated from brunch! We did pack up snacks and food stuffs to go back to the city with. We got on the road around 8 PM for the one and one half hour drive back to New York City.

Traffic was a bear, and soon the bags of chips and such were torn open. We felt foolish to have passed on a healthy excellent dinner. It was an exhausting drive home made so so by the doubling of its duration. For us on holiday, this mattered little since we had the luxury of a leisurely morning at hand. For Tim and Robin, it was a bit of a drag since they had to be in their offices first thing Monday morning.

All the hardware on the old doors in the house has been changed by Tim and Robin

Once home in New York, the doorman whisked things in, Robin parked the car, and Tim showed us to our home to be for the next few days.

This antique chest is in the front entry hall - Tim loves botanicals

The city apartment is as beautiful as it's country cousin in an entirely different way. More on that later.

The 300 year old stairs

An old door at the top of the stairs left intact with original paint

With a quick unpacking, and a tour of light switches and internet access, our hosts retired for the night. We too took to our bed, nestled in and happy.

More attention to detail - Alberto and I just love the latch key boxes used on all the doors

We had big plans for the week, including a party in my honor the next night.

The upstairs hallway

The next morning the table in the dining room was laid with pretty china. Robin was off, but Tim was still there to have a coffee with us and introduce us to their fabulous housekeeper Marylin. He made sure we had an extra set of keys, and everything else we needed, and then he too was off, looking dapper and dandy.

Tim the gardener loves to place pretty pots of flowers everywhere in the house

We hung around until noon or so, catching up on e-mail and the morning paper.

Another antique daybed, this one in the Dining Room

The Dining Room

We ventured out an a perfect day weather wise to take in The High Line.

The mantle in the Dining Room with glass urns and maidenhead ferns

Later that night we dined in a neighborhood bistro with Tim and Robin. After dinner, they left us on the street hailing a cab to go tango dancing downtown.

The rock crystal chandelier in the Dining Room

It was after 11 PM, so they went back to their apartment, trying to catch up on their beauty sleep.

The country kitchen - all the light fixtures were added by Tim and Robin

I took so many pictures!!! I even edited them for this posting! But I know you all love to see photos, so I hope you indulge me.

Detail of kitchen cabinet - all the hardware was changed by Tim and Robin

Tim and Robin are not professional decorators or designers per se. But they work in the fashion and interior design business. Tim is a highly sought after consultant, and Robin is the financial brains behind a well known interior design firm, and also for a very successful fashion designer.

Vintage silhouettes in the downstairs powder room - I love how dapper they are!

Tim is originally small town California, and Robin is from Indiana. They both moved to the city years ago as bright young things, met cute, and made a life together in New York.

Well stocked bar in the butler's pantry off the kitchen

They travel to Paris regularly to attend the couture shows with, and behalf of their clients. They also travel world wide. These travels have formed their visual vocabulary so to speak.

The deck doomed to fall one day

They work hard, and they enjoy the fruits of their labor. They are generous in spirit and in practice, and are always so much fun and comfort to be around.

Pretty table setting for breakfast on the deck

We met through mutual friends Danilo Dixon (world famous hair stylist) and Harry Fireside (world famous jewelry designer). We have seen each other through deaths of friends and family, divorce, births of nieces and nephews, and ups and downs of our businesses. We share a common love of being bon vivants, and a love for one another that needs no explanations.

The country house - Classic Federal style
The part on the left built first in the 1700's, the part on the right added in the early 1800's

I celebrate their good fortune and success, and they celebrate mine.

I thank them for allowing me to share their little corner of their life in the country, even if it's not picture perfect by their standards.

Part of the beautiful nineteen acres

I know you my gentle readers can see beyond my shaky photography, and enjoy and appreciate a unique peek into someone's hearth and home.

This tree was a gift to Tim on his 50th birthday last year

If you enjoyed country life with Tim and Robin, I hope you'll come back another time for glimpse into their city digs.

The pond

Even though we are all so exposed and perhaps over exposed because of blogs, tweets, and Facebook, it still seems like fun to share things.

Barns R Us!

Inspiration and delight come to us in many ways, and the best way is through one another.

For those who don't partake in the world of blogging, this tantamount share fest can feel intrusive and redundant.

For those of us who blog, we find the attention and sharing of detail totally enjoyable, and somewhat normal and necessary.

So even though I have been cutting back on photographing and blogging about everything, I still find moments and images I want to archive and pass along.

Blogging is being in a different kind of moment, a moment that can be suspended in time.

This small cottage adjoins the property and is for sale
It's on an acre and half of land
Presently there is no water or electricity
Alberto and I are tempted!


pavlova said...

Oh how gorgeous -- thank you so much for sharing this wonderful home with us....I can't wait to see their NYC place. You are fortunate to have such terrfic and talented friends...but, then again...they are so fortunate to have you!!!! xo Michelle

Linda/"Mom" said...

* Such a heartwarming look into the delightful "country life" that is led when time permits... utterly CHARMING, Val!!! Soooo glad you DID take the time to photo it all. AND share with us!!!

Linda *

carla fox said...

I love all the photos and the descrpitions, too! Never redundant and always appreciated! Thank you, Valorie!

carla fox said...

I love all the photos and the descrpitions, too! Never redundant and always appreciated! Thank you, Valorie!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post! The couple did not like the colors in this home??? I love them!! Love the green-painted woodwork especially! I'm so glad they did not do the whole monochromatic Belgian-thing. This home is so refreshing! Big cheer for the couple to continue having fun putting together their home. :)

Cote de Texas said...

Vamp - this is absolutely gorgeous = I love the runners! and the lanterns by the front door and just everything - the flowers, the land, the house - unreal. must have been so fun to stay!!!! wow. very impressive!

Design Junkie said...

just beautiful

Tricia - Avolli said...

Such a pretty home with so many lovely details. It must have been so relaxing to stay there with such dear friends.

Tricia - Avolli

Kwana said...

I'm in love with this home. It seem to be the perfect place to get away from the city and enjoy life, friends and family.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It looks just like a country house should look. Perfect.

Ruth Amada said...

I love this post....I've tried blogging but one of my reasons for not keeping up with it is because I read so many blogs the time at hand flies by & I do need to work! So I admire your fortitude & appreciate the work & time it takes, I'm from a small town in the southwest - so all this greenery is just marvelous, a feast to my eyes....please keep posting.....about whatever....your photography is great!
Lots of love from this reader.....lol

krys kirkpatrick said...

I love those latch key boxes also. Do you have any idea where they got them? Lovely post.

Swedish Interiors said...

You are so generous with us all in sharing your vists to your friends' homes - both town and country. There is something inspiring in every shot, all the more so because of your clear appreciation and affection towards your hosts. You are a great photographer! That charming cottage...I say YES, go for it! I can't wait to see the next leg of your journey!


Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

Balm for the soul. An absolutely delicious corner of the world! We lived in the Catskill area. A hidden jewel.

Your photos...and your life...are WONDERFUL!!

Thank you!

Elise said...

Hello, absolutely loving your blog and wanted to leave a comment to say so.

Your pics are brilliant and I love your writing - I'm learning so much already !

I will be back, thanks so much for sharing - very generous !!!

Visual Vamp said...

Hello darlings,
I am so happy you enjoyed your day in the country!
Here's the latch box and key info from Tim:

"I think the "latch box" hardware came from a company called Rocky Mountain Hardware.
They are located in Colorado. We found them at the Brass Center in NY


Carey said...

What a feast! Thank you for taking the time to photograph and share, Miz V. Hope that whatever you missed while snapping pictures came back to you in writing this post. Such good friends taking such good care of you!

vicki archer said...

What a beautiful home and what wonderful friends you have Valorie. I loved the private peak into another world....thank you. xv

pve design said...

...ah, but the friends who frequent are the special touch. Lovely home to enjoy. Thank-you for sharing.

my favorite and my best said...

that's country heaven. lucky girl you are.

Visual Vamp said...

An update from Tim came in the e-mail today:

"Hey Doll,
Correction... The latch box hardware on the interior doors is from a company called Baldwin.
The exterior door hardware is from Rocky Mountain.
Hope all is well...when do you "de camp" for BA?
Win big and have a grand time!

Jack said...

I love all the photos and the descrpitions, too!Such a nice collection...amazing....

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