For two antiques lovers with a soft spot for country life, a cramped Brooklyn loft is simply no match for a stunning 1700s farmhouse in Upstate New York. Here's how a weekend retreat turned into a full-time fixation.
Andrew Arrick and Michael Hofemann needed space. In 2006, the couple, along with their German wirehaired pointer, Matilda, were living in a 1,500-square-foot loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and they found themselves wanting a little more room and a lot more tranquillity. "I think people get to that stage where the city is just too much," says Michael. "It gets to you." So when they found a listing for an 18th-century farmhouse near Hudson, New York, they couldn't resist. "At the turn of the century, the place was an inn called The Locust Rest and Tea Stop," Andrew says. "We liked it immediately, and did that thing you're not supposed to do: We bought the first house we visited."
Situated on 4 acres, the 3,500-square-foot home initially served as an occasional weekend retreat, Andrew says. "But after a few years, we started to think, 'How can we make this work full-time?' " So, in December 2012, the couple quit their jobs; sold the loft; adopted another pointer, Gunnar; and opened their Hudson-based home furnishings store, . And even though the home is no longer a working inn, you'd never know it based on the steady stream of visitors that check in on the weekends.
The couple reupholstered two 1940s American chairs and a pair of French Art Deco chairs in a hardy textile from . "We have a lot of neutrals in the house, so we liked the idea of introducing denim blue here," Andrew says. The 1950s scroll iron-and-glass coffee table sits atop a vintage overdyed rug from . Flanked by bronze- and-porcelain French wall sconces from the 1920s, a vintage blue cabinet is a makeshift easel for Woman in a Blouse by Isaac Soyer.
Michael and Andrew transformed this space—formerly a kids' playroom—into a cozy reading room. First, they hired a local carpenter to install built-in shelves on three walls, which was no easy task in the 200-year-old home. "There is not a straight line in the house," says Andrew. "The baseboard in one part of the room may be 6 inches taller than in another part of the room." The couple then added a few well- appointed antiques—including a 1930s Danish leather chair (that they originally bought for their store) and a 1960s sofa featuring its original golden fabric—that blend seamlessly with the patterns found in the Oushak- style rug () and kilim-covered ottoman.
The table was one of the first pieces Michael and Andrew purchased for their home. Found at , its row of drawers provides a great place to stash table linens. Vintage folding chairs are more comfortable with cushions made from 19th-century German grain sacks. The couple painted the once gilt-gold chandelier with a white primer and added the understated St. Antoine by wallpaper, a 19th-century Danish painting, and vintage wall sconces from Andrew's father.
The family, including Matilda, enjoys breakfast daily at an industrial metal foundry table. The sign above the doorway hung in the home when it was a turn-of-the-century inn, and it was a gift from local relatives of the original owners. "Back in the day, you could stop here for a chicken dinner for $1.99," Andrew says. The couple added a vintage porcelain double farm sink and re-faced all of the cabinets.
The back entrance to the house was converted into a country pantry for collections of dishware and pitchers. Andrew and Michael installed a vintage set of cabinets in the center and had a carpenter build matching cabinets to surround it.
The home's well-worn stair runner is a reminder of the guests who come and go. (Four-legged visitors surely appreciate the dog paintings lining the stairwell.)
In the adjacent bedroom, the couple added a modern touch with a sleek white four-poster bed draped in an 1800s coverlet and opted for his-and-his bookcases rather than traditional stands.
Andrew's father is also an antiques dealer who runs in Newport, Rhode Island, with his partner. He gifted both the cute sailor figurine and the collecting gene to his son. Says Andrew, "I love vintage mirrors, and what better place to showcase them than the bathroom. Some are shaving mirrors; another was salvaged from an old car."
One (of many) benefit to country life: good neighbors. Michael and Andrew loan out their barn to a farmer for hay storage and, in return, the farmer allows them to load up their 1988 Woody Wagoneer with apples, peaches, and more from his 150-acre orchard.
The third-story guest suite offers a cozy home to items culled from local estate sales, including the spool bed and sweet framed needlepoint.
The attic is also yet another place to display the couple's cherished oil paintings. "I'd guess we have about 40 oil paintings throughout the house, although it's hard to say because some haven't even been hung yet!" says Andrew.
"We generally buy what we like without much evaluation of provenance or market value," says Andrew. "It's a mix of thrift store, flea market, and auction finds."