When Amy Ilias began her search for a weekend home in the Hudson Valley, her husband, artist Jim Denney, had one request: “Just not an old Victorian with plaster moldings.”
Fair enough, she thought. So the couple, who back then counted Brooklyn as their home base, looked at industrial spaces instead, even though Amy had already fallen in love with a Zillow listing—of an old Victorian with plaster moldings, no less. “But out of respect for Jim, I let it go,” she recalls.
Fortunately, their broker intervened and insisted on showing them the house. The minute they stepped inside, Jim had a change of heart: “Can you imagine if it were painted white?” (She could.) And when they discovered that the home was owned by Brice and Helen Marden (a power couple in the New York art world), the deal was all but sealed.
“I had seen a feature on one of their homes in The World of Interiors in 2009 and was so taken with it that I saved it for years. We’re drawn to similar things—a very eclectic mix of modern and vintage, lots of pattern and indigenous textiles, and art. It almost felt predestined,” says Amy, who as executive vice president of art and design at ABC Carpet & Home, had her hands “in everything creative” at the storied New York City retail destination, from vintage and antique buying to restaurant and store design.
The couple purchased the house in 2017 and have since been steadily renovating it while taking care to keep its spirit intact—including its signature purple exterior. (The inside, per Jim’s original vision, has been painted all white.) “The Mardens chose the exterior color and painted the house. It’s an amazing choice—it often almost disappears against the sky,” says Amy, who documents the renovation on her Instagram account The Lavender Ghost.
Amy left her job recently, and the couple are now happy to be living full-time upstate. Let’s take a tour of The Lavender Ghost, a unique home that’s a little bit bohemian, a little bit punk rock, and always artful.
Photography by Amy Ilias.
For more inspired renovation and restoration projects in the Hudson Valley, see:
Instead of dining out on Valentine’s Day—in a restaurant packed with strangers and dripping with paper hearts—wouldn’t it be more intimate, in every sense of the word, to stay in? That’s always been our preference: candles, a table set for two, and perhaps pajamas over crowds and cold.
When we emailed recently with Ajiri Aki, the France-based doyenne of stylish, effortless table settings (she runs the vintage tableware shop and linen purveyor Madame de la Maison), we were happy to hear that she feels the same, all the way over in Paris. Here’s how she sets the table for a simple Valentine’s dinner for two—plus her tips for making it just a bit romantic, never fussy.
Photography by Ajiri Aki.
1. Resist the urge to go pink.
2. Choose petite flowers over big bouquets.
3. Sprinkle some roses.
Above: “I always add one little stereotypical element that connects to the holiday,” Ajiri says. For a romantic touch, she scattered a handful of dry rose buds down the center of the table.
4. Use the good china.
5. Embrace imperfection.
6. Sit kitty-corner.
P.S. See more of Ajiri’s entertaining tips in Joyeux Noël: How to Throw a Holiday Party the French Way. And here’s our original feature on her work: Vintage French Style You Can Rent: Madame de la Maison in Paris.
Up ’til now, I admit, I’ve much preferred earthier colors—for wearing and for interiors—than what I’ve always thought of as somewhat frilly, not-me pink. But lately I’ve surprised myself by being rather drawn to it: There’s a slew of pinks out there to love—not all of them bubblegum or tutu—from dusty mauve to soft salmon to just barely barely pink. And, contrary to my previous (maybe popular) belief, pink in interiors needn’t be fussy, or young-looking: It can be bold, romantic, playful, unexpected, even a little cheeky.
Proof? Just take a look at these bedrooms—some with just a touch of pink, others dressed head to toe—that I’m seeing in new light.
Psst: We’ve rounded up our favorite pink rooms elsewhere in the house—and paints, too—here:
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