March 3, 2015

Dabney McAvoy Updates an Austerlitz Dwelling to Perfection

A Manhattan couple refreshed their home away from home in upstate New York with a relaxed blend of furnishings and a warm color palette that's never short on style.

by Arlene Hirst photographer Peter Margonelli


No American will soon forget the date September 11th, 2001, but for two Manhattan executives, it resonates for another reason; it's the day they bought their house. Shaken, but undeterred, the men closed the sale on the 3,000-square-foot dwelling in Austerlitz, NY, a small town close to the Massachusetts state line and the Berkshires. The couple settled comfortably into the dwelling, a lumber peg construction with mortise-and-tenon joints and a double-height living room-and they did all the interiors themselves. But by last year they were ready for an update. This time they got advice from Dabney McAvoy, an interior designer in nearby Great Barrington, who helped with paint colors and fabrics. The light-filled two-story living room is now a study in browns, from the Brunschwig chairs and sofa covered in a Ralph Lauren linen to the cross-patterned rug from Safavieh, where their three whippets, Henry, Monty and Baxter-all named after streets in Chinatown-love to hang out. Simple curtains made with Schumacher fabric cover the windows. The walls are lined with a collection of landscape paintings, bought at flea markets and country fairs around the world, and purchased over the years since one of the owner's college days. These are paired with the work of artist Daniel Charles Feldman. Together they lend the room a distinctive character.

Curtains from Schumacher are hung from the top of the double-height windows.

Upstairs, McAvoy helped choose fabrics and paint, creating a friendly, predominantly blue palette with touches of orange, and using Ralph Lauren bedding and paint. The men mounted the three deer heads-found in nearby Hudson, New York-above the entrance to the guest rooms, adding a rustic touch.

Because a new kitchen was tops on their most-wanted list, the pair went to Missy Cranna, a kitchen designer from Hudson, New York, who collaborated with the men's contractor, Dale Cross. Both men are serious cooks and wanted an open, inviting space that flowed naturally into the living area. The highlight of the kitchen is the Dekton counter, a new engineered-stone surface that looks like slate but is far more durable, handling hot pots and sharp knives with ease. The traditional, apron-front sink from Kohler is stainless-steel, which folds in a touch of modernity. White subway tiles from Ann Sacks line the wall behind it. "The kitchen is our new obsession," says one of the men. "It's so wonderful now that we spend as much time there as we can."