At home with Amanda Seyfried

New York’s Catskills aren’t the typ­i­cal habi­tat for an ac­claimed Hol­ly­wood ac­tress, but the lush green hills turn out to be the per­fect set­ting for Amanda Seyfried

ELLE (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

The ac­tress in­vites ELLE into her coun­try re­treat in the Catskills

The hand­off – the mo­ment a de­signer presents a com­pleted project to the client – is of­ten as staged as a Broad­way show. The doors fling open and ta-da! Ev­ery­thing from tea­spoons to tis­sues is in place, ready for the drama of life to be­gin. But when de­signer Sarah Zames passed along a project in the Catskills to its owner, ac­tress Amanda Seyfried, the tran­si­tion was al­to­gether dif­fer­ent. Yes, the 1920s house was in­hab­it­able, but it was not “done” in the or­di­nary sense of the word. In­deed, it was barely fur­nished, and half the work had not even be­gun. Which is ex­actly how every­one wanted it.

Seyfried had pre­vi­ously col­lab­o­rated with an in­te­rior de­signer on res­i­dences in Man­hat­tan and Los An­ge­les, but

she craved a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence here. “I wanted to see what it would be like to add to the house slowly,” she says. “Sarah’s eye lends it­self to that. It’s easy for me to layer on top of what she’s done.” And layer Seyfried does, from tex­tiles, art, and found ob­jects to items she knits or cro­chets her­self. Nor are her ad­di­tions lim­ited to inan­i­mate de­tails. She adopts res­cue an­i­mals, wel­com­ing them into her menagerie of horses, goats, chick­ens, cats, and a dog. Not in­ci­den­tally, she also ac­quired a hus­band re­cently, ac­tor Thomas Sa­doski, and gave birth this past spring to their baby daugh­ter.

“Every time I visit, Amanda has added some­thing,” says Zames, founder and prin­ci­pal of the Brook­lyn-based firm Gen­eral Assem­bly. “The project takes on warmth re­ally well.”

Warmth wasn’t a catch­word of Zames’s early ca­reer. Trained as an ar­chi­tect, she worked for cut­ting-edge mod­ernist giants such as Rafael Viñoly and Skid­more, Owings & Mer­rill. But big, cor­po­rate projects didn’t in­spire her. “A con­nec­tion to home is the rea­son a lot of peo­ple go into ar­chi­tec­ture in the first place,” she says. Still, she brings an ar­chi­tect’s sense of bal­ance and align­ment to every as­pect of her work. “I’m al­ways think­ing about the over­all space and the light,” she says, “and how ma­te­ri­als and pat­terns will en­hance them.” The re­sult is a kind of cosy modernism: clean, sim­ple planes com­posed with evoca­tive, hand­made ma­te­ri­als. For this as­sign­ment, she ap­plied her sen­si­bil­ity to two sep­a­rate struc­tures: a stone house and a barn. Zames tack­led the house first, adapt­ing her ap­proach to each of the floors. “Down­stairs was thick walls and de­fined spa­ces,” she says, “so we weren’t able to al­ter the foot­print.” In­stead, she aimed to make the rooms brighter, cleaner, and more ef­fi­cient, adding built-ins and re­fin­ish­ing all the sur­faces. The up­stairs, by con­trast, was com­pletely gut­ted. Three bed­rooms be­came two, the ceil­ings were opened to the rafters, and the walls pushed out into the eaves. “Amanda cares more about the char­ac­ter of a space than its size,” says Zames. It’s an at­ti­tude that

freed Zames to fo­cus on sub­tle, grace­ful de­tails, like shiplap that car­ries from a sun­room into a bed­room; deep, an­gled book­shelves that echo the win­dow open­ings; and a cus­tom bath­room van­ity whose mid­night-blue steel legs match the re­fin­ished tub. It also al­lowed her to in­tro­duce hand­made tile, a favourite ma­te­rial. “I love us­ing it to de­fine and con­tain a space,” she says. Guest beds rest atop ra­di­ant-heated tile “rugs” set within wood floors. Hexag­o­nal tiles wrap around a wood-burn­ing stove, and a band of graphic tiles adds a pop of en­ergy to the tiny kitchen.

For Zames, the ren­o­va­tion of the barn was a dream project. “I’ve al­ways been drawn to barns,” she says. “Every de­tail serves only the ex­act pur­pose the farm needs. And once that’s over, barns take on a dif­fer­ent life – the wood splits, and you get sliv­ers of sun; the form changes and de­grades. Ar­chi­tec­ture is al­ways about this idea of per­ma­nence. Barns are the op­po­site.”

Of course, since it’s now a guest­house, Seyfried’s barn needed to pro­long its hold on per­ma­nence. Zames shored up the struc­ture, then gave the in­te­rior new life. The liv­ing area was en­cir­cled with a band of white wall, to con­trast with the rough wood floors and ceil­ing. A pair of for­mer foal­ing stalls was trans­formed into guest rooms. A whole side of the barn was opened to the wooded land­scape with glass doors that fold flat, ac­cor­dion-style.

That land­scape is what drew Seyfried to the prop­erty in the first place. “Be­fore I even went in­side the house, I knew I wanted it,” she says. Al­though fam­ily and work keep her in Cal­i­for­nia – cur­rently the se­ries Twin Peaks plus films The Clap­per and First Re­formed – she con­sid­ers her Catskills prop­erty home. “I al­ways want to come back here,” she says. Not sur­pris­ingly for a project that omit­ted the dra­matic un­veil­ing, Zames, too, keeps com­ing back. She ap­pre­ci­ates the op­por­tu­nity “to ex­pe­ri­ence the peace of the house now that con­struc­tion is done.” But she’s also drawn by an­other com­pul­sion: her de­signer’s in­stinct for per­fec­tion. “There’s al­ways some lit­tle de­tail that isn’t ex­actly right,” she says. “Some drawer pull, some tile...” With any luck, there al­ways will be.

In a guest room, ce­ment tiles by Com­mune are set into re­claimed-oak floor­ing, and the walls are painted in White Dove by Ben­jamin Moore

In the guest barn, slid­ing doors re­pur­posed from the orig­i­nal horse stalls lead to the guest rooms

In the barn’s liv­ing area, an orig­i­nal wood-burn­ing stove is backed by a wall of cus­tom con­crete tiles; the chair is vin­tage The mas­ter bath’s cus­tom van­ity has fit­tings by Water­works, the sconce is from De­sign Within Reach, the floor tile is by Heath Ce­ram­ics

Seyfried’s dog, Finn, re­laxes in the mas­ter bed­room, where the bed is by Restora­tion Hard­ware, the bench is from Gilt, and the rug is from ABC Car­pet & Home

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