An engaging blend of vintage, rustic, and midcentury modern elements turns a builder home into a dream getaway.
It was all about the bones. For six months,
interior designer John Willey and his partner, Frederick Aronstein, had been searching for the ideal weekend getaway in Upstate New York. But none of the houses resonated until he viewed a 1990s Millerton, New York, home on a real estate site.
While the pleasing proportions of the 2,000-square-foot Colonial-style house first caught his eye, he had to look past the less-than-ideal interiors to see the true beauty.
“It was painted in horrible colors,” John says. “The walls were a buttery yellow and all the beams and the floors were dark brown—very heavy looking. But I could see the bones through that and envision something better.”
That “something better” included changing the interior colors to match John’s preference for the pure-looking tonal hues typical of Scandinavian homes. “I wanted just whites and grays and blacks—a very calming color scheme since we deal with color and pattern through the course of the day here at the office,” he says.
Beaded-board walls throughout the home were painted either black or light gray, and the ceilings and exposed beams were painted high-gloss white for an airy feel. John took a modern approach to furnishings, too, pairing midcentury pieces, such as the vintage walnut chairs and the Adrian Pearsall floor lamp in the dining room, with bold artwork and distinctive light fixtures.
In the kitchen, a green laminate countertop gave way to granite with gray and cream tones, and the existing cabinetry traded its dowdy chocolate brown finish for high-gloss black.
Upstairs, ebonized black floors and light gray walls mirror the crisp palette throughout the main floor. However, rather than paint the upper-level ceilings white, John chose to leave the original stained pine intact, preferring the natural warm glow imparted by the wood tones.
Today, John and Frederick are savoring their country getaway. “It’s fantastic to come up on a Friday, light a fire, relax with friends, or just enjoy the sounds of nature,” John says. “Every little corner—the whole place—brings me joy.”
opposite: Throughout the house, unique, modern artwork, such as the painting in the foyer, introduces accent colors and unexpected details to the overall design. above left: The breakfast area just off the kitchen provides a comfortable place for morning coffee. The pendant light, with its rope-wrapped iron frame and matching shades, adds to the casual feel. above right: The living room’s original stone fireplace imparts a sense of age to the 1990s home. below left: High-gloss white ceilings maximize natural light in a kitchen filled with dark-painted cabinets. below right: Humble pottery pieces mix with sparkling glass and rich metal finishes in John’s rustic-meets-modern home.
above: In the master bath, the vanity and side table provide enough storage for bath linens and toiletries without overwhelming the small space. The vintage schoolhouse sconces are a charming touch. right: The staircase was brought back to life with gleaming white paint for the spindles and high-gloss black for the handrail. The smokedglass multi-light pendant with filament bulbs is a statement piece. far right: Varied wood tones in the floor—from bleached to ebonized—deliver rustic character in the upper-level master bedroom.
this photo: Vintage glass bottles form an eye-catching arrangement at the kitchen windows.