An Ulster County designer adds the spare esthetic of Japan to the simple geometry of Bauhaus and creates a soothing retreat
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“Then I started furnishing the rest of the house,” says Gerry. The den and living room, which are partly divided by the stairwell, share a wall of windows overlooking the river. Shades roll up at the touch of a button to expose the view. “The fireplace wall in the den desperately needed improvement,” Gerry says. “The flat-screen TV was already there, so I had to work around that.” She added a stone fireplace surround, then dressed up the wall with another hand-applied plaster, this time with silver leaf and aqua pigments that shimmer in icy blue-grays and seem to reflect the outdoors. “It gives it a little flash, but it’s subtle,” Gerry remarks. Furniture in pale blue and chocolate brown upholstery looks up-to-the-minute.
The same palette of ice blue and brown is repeated in the living room, on a long L-shaped sofa and a concrete coffee table that Gerry designed in three sections so that it can be rearranged. “There were ugly floor-to-ceiling white bookcases that dominated the room,” she says. “So I pulled those out and installed floating shelves made of ebonized wood.” A low bookcase and storage unit sit beneath.
It’s minimalist, although you can imagine sitting there with a magazine without ruining the look. “It’s our first home outside the city, and we might have been even more spare,” says the lady of the house. “Catherine helped us focus on how we’d spend time there.”
The dining room, which flows from the living room, continues the silver and ebony color scheme. Christian Liagre white leather chairs and bench surround a very tactile trestle table of ebonized walnut whose edges slope gently down. (“We just can’t sit there enough,” says the wife.) A narrow window overlooks the land rising in back, emphasizing how snugly the house sits in its spot. Gossamer embroidered silk curtains soften the room, while silver leaf branch lamps by Hwang Bishop are a fun touch. Gerry designed the rectangular light fixture hanging above the table when the budget wouldn’t stretch to the spectacular $10,000 model she wanted. A flowery table runner and lacquer tray add splashes of red. “I’m trying to get the owners to add a red lacquer screen, too,” Gerry says.
As for the rest of the house: The kitchen has yet to be tackled, but with its basic black cabinets, white floors and walls, it blends in well enough. A master bedroom and two guest rooms are furnished in the usual way but, of course, with no hint of froufrou.
A stroll around this immaculate home raises the question: Where’s their stuff? One answer: The carefully chosen things they have are tidily stowed away. Another answer: In the basement, where there’s a medley of toys. A foosball table, exercise machines, and a small bar crowd one room, which has bright blue walls; another is jumbled with all the equipment of a recording studio — two drum kits, amps, control boards, mikes, and cables snaking all over the floor. A mini wine cellar is tucked into a corner closet.
Gerry’s designs show how subtle detail can bring sterile, white, boxy rooms to life without losing the charm of their simplicity. “It was a long process and not cheap,” she reports. But both client and designer are pleased with the results. “Catherine did an amazing job of translating what we wanted,” say the owners. “All my clients should be like them,” responds Gerry.
Designer: Catherine Gerry Interiors, High Falls
Contractor: George Cuney, New Paltz
Cabinetmaker: Appelson Woodworks, Mt. Tremper
Engineer: Ross Dalland, Kingston
Hand plastering: Loye and Derrickson, New Paltz
Tub and bench fabricator: Concreteworks Studio East, New Jersey