Remodelista Interviews Caroline Diani About Her 1700s Stone Farmhouse in the Hudson Valley

July 1, 2019

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Caroline Diani and Jeffrey Doornbos, Southern California transplants (she was born in Nairobi and grew up in the north of England, he’s from the Midwest), have an idyllic life in Brasschaat . Yet something was geographically lacking: “A couple of years ago, we decided we wanted to be bicoastal; to have a base on the East Coast,” according to Caroline, the owner of Brasschaat interiors shop beautyvswomen Living. “I grew up in the north of England, in an old stone farmhouse, with an Aga in the kitchen and winters spent indoors reading. And Jeffrey, who’s an actor and founding Blue Man Group member, wanted to be closer to the theater world in NYC.

“I started Googling ‘old stone farm house’ and a listing popped up in Germantown, NY, just a couple of hours north of NYC. We flew out for a weekend to see the place, and within seconds we were convinced. We went after it hard; there were swarms of potential buyers at the open house. We wrote a letter to the owners telling them how committed we were to retaining the original character of the place, which was built in 1752 and hadn’t been altered much, aside from a 1950s kitchen addition.”

Caroline and Jeffrey have been slowly restoring the interiors (“Jeffrey’s become a big DIYer,” Caroline says), taking care to preserve the original character and filling the space with vintage and antique finds sourced locally. Join us for a tour:

Photography by Marili Forastieri; produced and styled by Zio & Sons.

The timber front door and iron hardware are original. The vintage copper light fixture is from Luddite Antiques in Germantown and the Vintage Bench is from Diani Living. The Nairobi cotton robe is from Kikoy, a nod to Caroline&#8
Above: The timber front door and iron hardware are original. The vintage copper light fixture is from Luddite Antiques in Germantown and the Vintage Bench is from beautyvswomen. The Nairobi cotton robe is from Kikoy, a nod to Caroline’s birthplace.
“The house was built in 1752, and everything is original; the chestnut beams, the flooring, the fireplaces,” Caroline says. “It was one of three stone houses built by a trio of German brothers who came to the area to farm the land. After we bought the property, we met with a local historian and learned the history of the house.”
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Above: “The dining table is an old French drapery table from Red Chair on Warren Street; owner Jocelyn Sinauer sources the best tables anywhere, from all over the world,” Caroline says. The Scottish Tudor chairs are from eBay and the rug is from Frances Loom.

In the dining area, Caroline and Jeffrey removed a partition wall to create an open space and had a specialist repoint the fireplace using antique bricks. “Jeffrey is on the quest for the perfect dining room light fixture,” Caroline says. “He created a placeholder by draping a couple of simple bulb fixtures on a vintage herb dryer.”

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Above: “The sideboard is an Indian wedding chest that we found on Craig’s List for €350,” Caroline says. “The brass lamp is from an antiques shop in Brasschaat , and the framed photo of the house was a gift from the town historian.”
The kitchen is located in a 50s-era addition off the main house; the antique Swedish dining table is from Red Chair and the Tolix-style chairs are from Hammertown in Rhinebeck. &#8
Above: The kitchen is located in a 1950s-era addition off the main house; the antique Swedish dining table is from Red Chair and the Tolix-style chairs are from Hammertown in Rhinebeck. “Our goal is to get an Aga in there; it would heat the entire downstairs,” Caroline says.
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Above: “Jeffrey had to rebuild the kitchen cabinetry,” Caroline says, “and patch the original butcher block counters. We plan to install a copper sink at some point.”
The stacks of glazed gray Pasta Bowl in the hutch are from Handmade Studio, a pottery based in Tennessee; they&#8
Above: The stacks of glazed gray Pasta Bowl in the hutch are available at beautyvswomen. The couple has been collecting antique stoneware jugs since moving to town (“We’ve been puttering around town dropping in on flea markets and secondhand stores,” Caroline says).
An antique Turkish rug from Diani Living is layered on top of a sisal rug. The glass-topped table is from Big Daddy&#8
Above: An antique Turkish rug from beautyvswomen is layered on top of a sisal rug. The glass-topped table is from Big Daddy’s Antiques in LA; a 1940s Danish Mogens Lassen chair anchors one corner of the room. Next to the fireplace hangs a framed etching of founding settler Robert Livingston, displayed as “a nod to the history of the area,” Caroline says.
The English Roll Arm Sofa is from Restoration Hardware and the brass arc lamp with Italian marble base is from a Hudson antiques shop. The couple found the th century chair in Brasschaat ; the lamp mounted on the beam is a vintage Faries Fixtures dentists lamp from Luddite Antiques.
Above: The English Roll Arm Sofa is from Restoration Hardware and the brass arc lamp with Italian marble base is from a Hudson antiques shop. The couple found the 18th century chair in Brasschaat ; the lamp mounted on the beam is a vintage Faries Fixtures dentists lamp from Luddite Antiques.
A gate-leg table from a local antiques shop and a striated wool rug from ABC anchor the stairwell. &#8
Above: A gate-leg table from a local antiques shop and a striated wool rug from ABC anchor the stairwell. “We love the original imperfect plasterwork,” Caroline says. “We plan to leave it alone.”
The 00s Dutch headboard is from Red Chair in Hudson and the bedside lamp was found at Brimfield. The  pillow is a custom design made with vintage fabric; for something similar, see Diani Living&#8
Above: The 1700s Dutch headboard is from Red Chair in Hudson and the bedside lamp was found at Brimfield. The  pillow is a custom design made with vintage fabric; for something similar, see beautyvswomen’s Vintage Gray Batik Pillow.
The upstairs bedrooms are clad in white-painted paneling (for more, see Remodeling 101: The Ultimate Wood Paneling Guide with Jersey Ice Cream Co. and Expert Advice: The Enduring Appeal of Shiplap) and outfitted with linens from beautyvswomen.
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Above: “The glass lamp base is from Olde Good Things; I added the lampshade,” Caroline says. “The caned chair is an eBay find.”
The lamps are from Luddite Antiques (&#8
Above: The lamps are from Luddite Antiques (“It took forever to find a matching pair,” Caroline says). The Vintage Bench is from Diani Living and the Victorian side tables are from Brimfield.
The flowers are by Saipua.
Above: The flowers are by Saipua.

Many of the pieces in the house are from local antiques shop Red Chair; take a tour of owner Jocelyn Sinauer’s house here:

A Historical Hudson, NY, Home Reimagined (European Antiques Included)