Interior Designer Marc Hammond Renovates Hudson Townhouse
Comfort zone: An interior decorator and unabashed Anglophile creates a warm, welcoming home in Hudson
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Al fresco comfort: Once an ugly concrete walkway with a chain-link fence, the courtyard garden tucked behind the house is now a serene spot. The owners use the brick-paved upper terrace for dinner parties (below, right), while the curtained pergola with its daybed and seating areas serves as a fair-weather living room
The dining room opens onto a lovely courtyard. “This used to be a concrete walk leading to a dumpster in the alley, with a chain-link fence and scruffy yews,” Hammond remarks. Now, a table for eight occupies the upper level, and there’s another table for two near an inviting daybed on the lower level, where a pergola is hung with curtains for privacy. Vining euonymous and hydrangeas climb over the wall and fountain in the back while river birches with curling bark frame the scene. Hammond had extensive gardens at his previous home in Rensselaer. “They were a lot of work,” he says. “When I boiled it down, I thought, all I really need is a place to sit in the morning and have coffee, and a place we can have drinks and dinner with friends. This tiny little garden fulfills all that.”
Pretty, discontinued Brunschwig & Fils floral wallpaper lights up the stairwell. “I bought the remaining 40 rolls and hung onto it for 12 years, waiting for a place to use it,” Hammond remarks. “It’s a testament to Brunschwig & Fils that the colors are just as vivid as if it had been printed yesterday... This is where we live,” he announces, entering the library at the top of the stairs, where bookshelves, oiled cherry paneling, sofas, and cushy chairs feel homey and comfortable. The 10-foot-high ceiling is papered in an architectural pattern by Scalamandre to “give people something to look at as they come up the stairs,” he adds, although some visitors’ attention may be caught en route by a Chinese jar in a gilded niche — another of his possessions long in need of a home and now set into the stairwell wall.
A curtained doorway leads to what Hammond calls “the bedchamber.” A four-poster bed takes up most of the space, but there’s still room for luxury, like green silk swagged behind the bed, a bank of cherry cabinetry, and a painting of a house on a country lane that once hung in Hammond’s grandmother’s kitchen. “We used to make up stories about who lived in the house,” he says. “I love having it, and I couldn’t hang it if we lived in a modern house. I like being surrounded by things that have meaning.” A master bath with a steam shower and a corner vanity feels surprisingly roomy.
The layered look: Although the rooms in the townhouse are fairly small, Hammond’s approach to decorating makes them feel luxurious, as this guest room with its rare, silk-canopied bed demonstrates. The Staffordshire dog lamps once belonged to Marilyn Monroe. More luxury: Each guest room has its own bath and kitchenette
Upstairs on the top floor, two guest rooms each have onetime hotel doors that still bear their enamel room numbers. There’s a surprise in Room 5: the furniture is Art Deco, left over from Hammond’s former loft in Manhattan. Room 6 holds an unusual 1800s bed that still has its original silk canopy, the fabric gathered into a central rosette. “It’s a hard piece of upholstery to do,” Hammond notes. A needlepoint carpet and Scalamandre wallpaper that looks like tufted lattice are “perfect for a bedroom,” he adds. But perhaps his favorite thing in Room 6 is the pair of Staffordshire dogs made into bedside lamps. “They belonged to Marilyn Monroe when she and Joe DiMaggio had a house in New Jersey,” he says. “I love to think of Marilyn reaching to turn them off.”
How does Rapport feel about such sumptuous decor? “His personal taste is more minimalist, so in the beginning, all this felt like a lot to him,” Hammond replies. “But he’s easygoing, and he’s come to love the English aesthetic.”
After the economy tanked, plans to build the Georgian dream house were put on hold — and Hammond doesn’t seem to mind much. “This house fills every need we have — not an inch more or less. It’s easy to take care of. And Hudson continues to get more and more interesting.”
At press time, Hammond and Rapport were planning their June wedding in the courtyard. For a man who sees the ghosts of happy times when he looks at his sofa, it’s surely going to be rough leaving that courtyard behind.