Hudson Valley Home Winter 2013
In her new book Love Where You Live, Hammertown Barn owner Joan Osofsky profiles 18 area homes, from rescued farmhouses to a revamped modular. We feature three of them, along with Osofsky’s comments on why these sites exemplify modern country living
© Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country by Joan Osofsky & Abby Adams, Rizzoli New York, 2013. Images are copyright of John Gruen and no images may be used in print or electronically without written consent from the publisher
In the midst of penning her new book, Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country (Rizzoli, $50), Joan Osofsky, the visionary behind rustic and elegant home-decor mecca Hammertown Barn, was gearing up for an apropos change: leaving a sprawling farm behind for a life in a mid-19th century cottage. The petite-sized, graceful abode is just one of the 18 residences Osofsky highlights in new tome — written with Abby Adams — which illuminates an evolving modern country aesthetic.
“These homes are all sophisticated, warm, and have an engaging character, but in different ways,” Osofsky explains of the houses, which range from a circa-1870 Colonial to a barn George Gershwin resided in during the 1920s. “Modern country is about comfortable living, not kitsch.”
Inspired by the vibrant graphic designs of quilts, the New Jersey-bred entrepreneur founded Hammertown Barn in Pine Plains nearly 30 years ago — it’s since expanded, with additional locations in Rhinebeck and Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In the beginning, she sold dried flowers and antiques; the book, then, is also a reflection of her own personal design journey. “I started going to Europe and came back with English and French pieces. I tried exploring different areas of the mix,” she recalls. “When I look back on it, I think my tastes became cleaner. Customers come into our stores to feel the stamp of Hammertown, just like when you walk into a house you want to feel the spirit of the people who live there.”
Here are Osofsky’s descriptions of some of the eye-popping spaces featured in her book — and why she finds them so alluring.
A 20-year-old log cabin built from a kit in rural Vermont, owned by Dierdre Heekin and Caleb Barber
“A French or Swedish-inspired ottoman (not sure which), simply striped rug, homespun blanket, chintz pillow, English-inspired wing chair with white slipcover, vintage wallpaper, contemporary task lamp, and books, books, and more books: This vignette has personality, and is modern country at its eclectic best. The vintage wallpaper is an important element in the look; it grounds the white chair and bookcase. Books are important for this homeowner, and they are mixed with accessories that have vintage quality. Look at the interest they bring to the room and the bookcase. Don’t hide your books, they bring your room to life.”
A modular home in Connecticut, owned by Rob Bristow and Pilar Proffitt, the architectural and interior designers behind Poesis Design
(Left) “The windows are an important feature of this room. They are big, part of the wall, and bring the outside in. How can you compete with that beautiful view? I love the reclaimed floors. They have an unfinished look and an organic feel. Most of the furniture they designed themselves, but that dark table against the wall, an old piece, is also a nice touch. Bringing vintage elements into a room grounds it, and adds warmth and comfort. Less is more, and accessorizing in just the right way is harder to do than it looks.”
(Right) “Granite curbstone is interesting for a fireplace. It’s a design feature I hadn’t seen before, and offers a graphic element. I love the way they designed it so the wood stacks. The cabinetry Rob built is simple and the shelf he designed is purposeful: The canisters and spice jars fit in well. Rob and Pilar are lucky because they are designers. If you are not going to hire someone to do your house for you, then go to the places that inspire you — like a good design book by Dennis Wedlick, Gil Schafer, or Darryl Carter — for ideas.”
A home on 55 acres in the Hudson Valley, owned by author Susan Orlean and husband John Gillespie
(Left) “Once again, this is an example of windows bringing the outside in. It’s furnished pretty sparsely, but they a wanted a big sofa. They live in California, too, and the doors opening onto the porch incorporate a bit of West Coast living into the space. The two-sided fireplace, the chaise built into the window and the books that are very much a part of their lives... It’s evocative: Without a person in the room you can look around and picture them there. For this look, keep your walls a light color. Another modern touch is keeping the moldings and wall color the same so it doesn’t divide the eye. If you don’t want to overdo the window treatment, just use a linen curtain. Taking down a wall for a spacious feeling like this is a game-changer.”
(Right) “This property is all about the land, designed by John Cutler of well-known Cutler Anderson Architects. I love the design of this tree house overlooking a pond and the hills. It’s a user-friendly space for the son to play, but it’s also for the adults to enjoy the view. They can all get in there together.”