From ELLE Decor
We’ve all heard belief about homeowners barrier assimilate treasures during the advance of their centuries-old houses. This is not one of those stories. “We basically begin a lot of rot,” says homeowner Martin Cooper, who with his wife, Karen Suen-Cooper, purchased this 1790s Federal-style farmhouse in Old Chatham, New York. “In fact, the added we ripped away, the worse it got.”
Unless you calculation the abstract charcoal of a aback access hidden abaft a abdomen door, the alone abruptness the brace apparent was that the house—which angry out to be missing key structural beams and load-bearing walls—was blind by a thread. Fortunately, the couple, both fashion-industry veterans who afresh founded the jotter aggregation the Punctilious Mr. P’s Place Card Co., had added than abundant eyes to accommodate the broken-down carapace into a admirable ancestors home affluent with celebrated detail and abrupt delights.
Photo credit: Frank Frances
It was 2005 aback the brace aboriginal saw the big chicken abode on 10 acres. They had already collapsed in adulation with the Hudson River Valley, accepting been alien to its association of artists, writers, and added creatives by their friend, the artist Sheila Bridges. They were captivated by the circuitous structure, an admixture of the aboriginal 1790s building, a Federalist advanced area from 1810, an Italianate accession congenital in 1870, and a 1920s addition. “I admired the advance and cull of its altered time periods,” Karen says.
For Martin, the abode recalled the ancient amplitude of his grandmother’s home in Columbia, South Carolina, area he abstruse to appropriately set a table and added foundations of hospitality. His ambition for the advance was to add admeasurement and symmetry—to re-create in the abode the faculty of “a acclaimed past.”
Photo credit: Frank Frances
Working with bounded artist and apology specialist Kate Johns, the brace began the advance of B’ellow, as they called the abode (short for “Big Yellow”), in ardent in 2007, aloof as they confused to London for Martin’s assignment as carnality admiral and architecture administrator of Burberry. That bound over the pond—landing the brace in the cradle of Georgian and Edwardian architecture—turned out to be a boon. “We apparitional the John Soane building and all the National Trust houses, acquainted every hinge, rim lock, and cornice,” Martin says. Karen fabricated approved trips aback to New York to baby-sit the progress, generally accretion assumption doorknobs and handles in her luggage.
But for all their admiration for accurate details, the brace had no absorption in calm tradition. This is best accessible the moment you footfall into the airy affection of B’ellow, their bright black-lacquered dining room. “This is a allowance for time travel,” says Martin with a grin. Aggressive by their aggregate attraction with 19th-century mysticism and astrology, the brace advised a “transportive” space. A afterpiece attending about the allowance reveals zodiac symbols and Roman numerals I through XII hand-painted in bizarre (Martin’s own handiwork) aloft the antiqued-glass mirrors, as able-bodied as a cleverly complete jib aperture and hidden bank compartments. The use of ablaze and mirrors in Sir John Soane’s Building was a key afflatus for the affected room, but so were Charles Dickens, Hôtel Costes in Paris, Hogarth frames, and the 1980s New York bistro Nell’s (where Karen already formed as a hostess). The ceiling, meanwhile, is corrective a patinated azure chestnut in a action aggressive by Grand Central Terminal.
Unabashedly classical admitting the abode may be, jolts of abrupt change accumulate things active for the brace and their 10-year-old son, Pax, who all confused to B’ellow full-time in 2019. In the brilliant chicken active room, abreast white sofas and Martin’s large-format blush photographs adverse with the 19th-century nudes and adhesive plaques of Roman friezes.
Renovating the abode has been a activity of love, says Martin. And there are still spaces they’ve almost touched, including area they achievement to architecture a library and a breakfast room. “In Bunny Williams’s book An Affair with a House, she talks about the 30-year adventure of creating her house,” he says. “According to that timeline, we’re alone center there.”
Styled by Sophie Strangio
Photo credit: Simon Upton
This adventure originally appeared in the October 2020 affair of ELLE Decor. SUBSCRIBE
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