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Posts Tagged ‘Interior design’

Serene, Patinaed Fantasy

In Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, Memoir, Renovation & Rehabilitation, What's the story? on September 29, 2011 at 11:41 am
Apartment buildings lining the south side of E...

East 57th Street between First and Sutton (via Wikipedia)

Accustomed to living out of a suitcase, I pendulumed back and forth between Manhattan where Susan was wrapping up a degree in interior design following a decade-long career in video production, and Westport, New York, where both of our parents owned homes and where we’d met a couple of years prior.

Susan had recently refinished a one bedroom apartment in The Galleria, and she was itching to sell it and start a new project. I was intrigued by the prospect of collaborating on a project and plugging my recent Paris experience into a tired but dignified New York apartment, but the Adirondacks were pulling me. After almost half a lifetime living in cities, I yearned to return to the rhythms and pleasures of rural life.

My idealized notion of a country house had its roots in a small farm that my parents had bought in Washington County while still living in New York City in the 1970s. Initially a getaway for my recently married parents trying to balance life and careers in New York City and later, albeit briefly, a full time residence, The Farm underpins my love for countryside and provides my earliest childhood memories.

The perfect place, I explained to Bruce, the friend and realtor who shuttled me from property to property, would be a small, simple farmhouse in the middle of fields with a sturdy barn and some acreage, maybe a stream or a pond or access to a river. Barns, in particular, pulled me. Secluded places with good light and views, forgotten places with stories still vaguely audible if you slowed down long enough to hear the voices. No loud traffic. An old overgrown orchard, perhaps. Asparagus and rhubarb gone feral near the barn. Stone walls, lots of stone walls and maybe an old stone foundation from a building long ago abandoned, the cellar hole full to bursting with day lilies. A couple of old chimneys in the farmhouse with fireplaces. A simple but spacious kitchen. A bedroom with plenty of windows. A room to read and write and collage the walls with notes, lists, photos, drawings and scraps. Someplace I could tinker at myself, gradually restoring the walls and plaster and roof. Timeworn wide plank floorboards of varying widths that I would sand by hand to avoid erasing the footpaths and dings and cupping from a burst pipe years before.

Although I’d painted the picture often enough, my budget and unwillingness to abandon the serene, patinaed fantasy resulted in a few false starts but mostly a very clear idea of what I was not interested in buying. On the upside, I came around and helped Susan select and renovate a coop in a 1926 McKim, Mead and White prewar located on 57th Street just off Sutton Place. An elegant apartment in a handsome building. Great bones, view and sunlight enhanced with a top-to-bottom environmentally responsible, non-toxic renovation. A success!

Though there were occasional fireworks when our aesthetics and convictions clashed, we enjoyed working together and decided to look for a North Country property that would suit both of our interests…

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Postprandial Soak

In Memoir, What's the story? on June 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm
Postprandial Soak

Postprandial Soak

After dinner Susan opted for a postprandial soak. Quiet. Languid. Sybaritic. Tasha curled up beside the bathtub, sighed and fell asleep. A breeze carried the faint smell of pine trees through the open window. A whippoorwill called in the distance.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could live here?” Susan said.

“Why couldn’t we?” I asked, vaguely aware that my response might abbreviate the placid mood we were enjoying.

“Really?” Susan sat up abruptly. “I mean, of course we could, but we can’t just leave our friends behind. And the apartment?”

“Our friends would visit. And the apartment? Well, I don’t know. We’d have to figure that out.” We only recently had found and renovated the co-op on East 57th Street, our first home together. Located on the twelfth floor of an understated pre-war with a southern exposure, tons of sunlight, a working fireplace and beautiful hardwood floors, we knew we were incredibly fortunate. The neighbors and staff were friendly, and the neighborhood offered excellent restaurants, grocers, wine shops and even a knowledgeable and well stocked fromagerie.

“We can’t just sell the apartment. I mean we’ve barely lived there. And besides…”

“You want to work in green design, right?” I asked. “Why not get a job in Vermont? They’re all about green over there, aren’t they?”

“How did you know I was thinking about my career?”

“I didn’t know. I guessed.”

“I know I haven’t exactly gotten around to starting my design career yet,” Susan said and went on to remind me that soon – very, very soon – she anticipated a high profile job with a world renowned firm, designing hotels and proving that commercial interior design could be environmentally friendly, healthy and affordable.

“Sounds good,” I said softly, definitively and tried to sink back into dreamy limbo. Susan was quiet. Tasha ran in her sleep, thumping against the side of the tub.

“I need to spend a few years with a big firm first, for the experience. Then, maybe…”

“I’m just saying, if you’re serious about green design, Vermont might be as good a place as any to start your career. And besides, you’d actually be living a green lifestyle in the Adirondacks, right?”

“But what about you?”

“What about me? I’d be living a green lifestyle in the Adirondacks too. I love it here. I’d be thrilled to live here for a few years.” Peripatetic by nature, I enjoyed relocating every three to four years. Having grown up in the Adirondacks, mostly in the Champlain Valley, I had long yearned to reconnect, not just for vacation or a weekend.

“Really? But what about your career?”

“Which one? Teaching? Ecommerce? Renovating real estate? Writing? Susan, my career is adventure!” I said melodramatically. “And right now my adventure is the Margaux Project and ShipStore,” referring to two websites I was currently working on. “I can do that anywhere. And, frankly, if we we’re up here I might find more time to write. This’d be the perfect place to finish my novel.”

“And my screen play.”

“And your screen play.”

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