Our Berkshires Home and The Shade Store
Our country house is one of my favorite places in the world.
We bought the house just after September 11 as an escape from city life. If you've never heard of it, the Berkshires is a quiet, rural area in Massachusetts. It's about a 2.5-hour drive from New York and is known for all four beautiful seasons. Whether I'm climbing out of the car and hiking through the snow, or I pull up and the birds have already created their spring nest in the chandelier on the front porch, the feeling of arriving in the Berkshires is absolutely amazing. This home has always served us well - in fact when we still lived in New York, our kids started fighting less on the drive up. I think the fresh air had something to do with it!
This summer, we updated all of the window coverings with our collection from The Shade Store. The house has quite a few windows so it can feel a bit like a fishbowl without proper coverage! I'm not sure why it took me 15 years to treat ourselves, but the results are beautiful (if I do say so myself). As you look through the images, keep in mind you can order samples of any of the fabrics you see here.
Window Covering: Novogratz x The Shade Store, Backgammon in Grey
In the foyer, we kept it simple and serene. This is a place where shoes and jackets can pile up, so keeping at least one element neutral helps. I chose our Backgammon Print in Grey. As I show you the rest of the home, you'll see that Robert & I made sure to include patterns that were soft and pastel (like this one), while others are loud and bold.
Walking into the main area of the home, we definitely opted to bring the color. We took down a wall between the kitchen and the family room so it would be more open and multi-purpose. I really wanted the entire room to be bright and happy, to set the tone for family time at the house. These are the rooms you can really take design risks in.
I like using patterns in places I know my kids will be playing. I think it hides stains well and there's no telling what will be on their sticky hands! If they grab the drapes, whether to hide from a sibling or to create a fort, nothing will show up - patterns really do wear and tear better!
Here's a look at our kitchen and dining area. This house was built in 1917, and when we purchased it, it was dark and dated. We ripped up all the musty old carpet and gave everything a fresh coat of white paint. It made it much more airy and comfortable to be there!
The dining table is a lot longer than this picture lets on! We found it in France and loved the old, industrial vibe. It seats up to 16 people, which is great for our big group! Between our friends, the kids' friends, and that our door is literally and figuratively always open, we need the extra seating. What I love most about this table is that since it is already worn, I feel comfortable letting the kids draw and paint on it. And I have to admit, we've had a dance party or two on it. The shades have come in handy during those lively evenings!
When we bought the home, we only had 4 kids. It's a five-bedroom house, so everyone got to pick a paint color. Tallulah chose the green, and it's remained her favorite color to this day! Even though she was so little when she picked it, that girl had such a strong sense of style from the start.
I'm glad that the kids chose these colors because when it comes to the bedrooms, brighter is better. It gives each room its own identity and I think that the drapes really help with that. This room had always had my grandmother's quilt, which had similar colors as our Shade Store Indian Summer print in Bright. I love that it channels the same energy, but I'm able to put the quilt away for safekeeping. (We rent this home out a lot and I have some peace of mind when the special and valuable pieces are stowed away.)
We have two bedrooms for the boys; one is red and the other blue. Even though we do rent this home a lot, we still have a lot of personal mementos on the walls. It's nice to share some of our family history with guests.
This picture shows just how thick the drapes are. They're blackout, which I know my boys appreciate. Sleeping late is key when you're in the Berkshires!
In the blue bedroom, I used our Shade Store Colored Dots print again, but in a brighter color palette. The blue paint is more serene, so I felt we could make the space a little more "Novogratz" with some hints of chartreuse.
This is the girls' bedroom, and Bellamy chose the purple. (Such a contrast from Tallulah's green, don't you think?) I'd also like to point out that we opted to mount the drapes differently than you may have seen before. The house is 100 years old and the casements are huge. We had solar shades previously installed, and for the drapes to hang properly, they had to be mounted in the ceiling. This is actually a great visual trick, because it makes the ceilings seem much taller. The rings slide easily, so it's easy to open and close them even with the extra height.
I'll admit, this bedroom is one that is pretty controversial. Some people love the in your face orange, while others can't believe we'd put something so bright in a bedroom. I do think the walls are bright enough, not to mention the bold artwork, so we selected a beige drape from our collection and a neutral rug as well. I love that it brings a bit of sophistication to an otherwise playful room.
Over the years, we've rented the home out when we're not using it. This helps with the financial aspect and has allowed us to keep it. With almost every guest, I've asked them what they thought about the orange bedroom. (This was inspired by one guest who proclaimed they'd never slept in an orange room before!) Did they enjoy it? Did they find it peaceful, even with it so bold and bright? Fortunately, everyone always tells me this house is responsible for some of the best sleep they've ever had - orange or not!
The other question I'm often faced with is if I'm afraid about renting out such a personal space. The truly great thing about opening your home to others is the opportunity to meet new people. For the most part, many of our renters have gone from strangers to friends!
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour. I'd love to hear what you think of our design choices, from the drapes to that famous orange paint. Leave a comment below - I look forward to chatting with you!
Designer & Mom of 7