By day, Ed Chaudhuri works on Wall Street, but his nights and weekends are devoted to treasure hunting. From the comfort of his suburban New Jersey home, armed with his trusty computer, he searches postings for vintage items both near (upstate New York, Maine, Connecticut) and far (Arizona, California). What’s he looking for, exactly? That would be everything. Rugs, farmhouse tables, oil portraits, apothecary cabinets, ironstone—he can’t resist any of it. “If I see a piece, and I connect with it and it’s well-priced, I’m coming home with it,” he says.
When Ed first started decorating, he was surprised by just how much he enjoyed the design process. “It appealed to my creative side, and it took some stress away from my corporate life,” says Ed. Ed and his wife spent the next few years adding layers and layers (and layers!) of vintage charm to their two-story home, filling one room and moving on to the next.
In homage to his father, who is in the merchant navy, Ed devoted his dining room wall to portraits of generals and sea captains. The large portrait of the eye-patched general was an accidental find—he saw it when he picked up a different score. “It was $35, and it’s signed!” he says.
Ed is a huge dog lover—there are canine portraits and figurines throughout the home. His favorite of the pack? A terra-cotta English hunting dog he spotted in a garden in 2014. Once a year, he reached out to the owner to see if he would sell, then last December, he got the call. “The guy called me and said, ‘Eddie, it’s time,’ ” he says. Now he sits atop a set of suitcases that Anna splurged on for Ed’s birthday.
When Ed began collecting, he first tossed everything they owned—right down to the dishes—and decided to go vintage or go bust in the entire house. Anna, an executive at Verizon (and, at the time, a new mom), was initially less than enthusiastic, but her husband’s passion eventually won her over.
Ed’s oil portrait philosophy: You can never have enough. To that end, he has approximately 40 or 50, and he gives them all new names. The lady to the left is Martha, because, “I found her at a store on Martha’s Vineyard,” says Ed. “She rode the ferry back to Boston with us. We usually tie our purchases on top of the roof, but she rode on the inside!” Below, Florence holds court atop an old dresser desk that Ed found in the Hudson Valley—the only find that he’s ever painted, by the way.
The 1930s typewriter models came in three colors: red, yellow, and green—Ed has all three. “One came from Phoenix, another is from San Francisco, and I got the third in California, too,” he says. The typewriters are just the right color combo for the vintage plaid —and they all are in perfect working order, too. Aditya even types his annual letter to Santa on the red Remington.
As any collector and design enthusiast knows, a room is never “done”—and, for Ed, the hunt is always on. He used a for the back of the French chair. “We didn’t want it to look too neat,” he says.
When his Anna, was expecting their first child, Ed decided to create an all-vintage nursery. “Today’s kids are going to get into iPads, but it was important to me that my son experience the joys of old, beat-up toys. I liked the idea of the baby in a simple, subtle environment, surrounded by well-loved pieces with stories,” he says.
Daughter Annaya hangs out in the sunroom with Abby, one of the family’s five lavender Orpington chickens. The portrait of the lady in the sunroom now goes by Emma.
Son Aditya has really gotten into collecting—Ed jokes that Aditya knows better where and when everything in the house was purchased than his parents. The budding collector also chose each of the 70 toy cars garaged in a circa 1920 general store hardware cubby. The cars are right at home in the sophisticated kids’ bedroom layered with , antique missionary beds, and an old 95-inch-long German consulate case that Ed converted into a closet.
This photo shows Ed, Anna, son Aditya and daughter Annaya with their 1972 van. Thanks in part to now five-year-old Aditya, the family finally has the perfect new-old vehicle for their antiquing adventures—a 1972 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper. “Aditya mentioned that he saw that Peppa Pig has a camper, and that we should get one, too,” says Ed, who then—not surprisingly—went on his trusted Craigslist and found a camper nearby in almost pristine condition.