Sometimes you just need to get in a car and get out of the city, music blaring (and amazing vocal accompaniments from all passengers, of course). That’s what Brie, Erik and I did not so long ago. We did a little road trip Upstate, and the highlight (aside from Erik’s attempt at soprano) was visiting Deborah and her daughters at their beautiful home in Upstate New York.
It must first be said that Deb is an incredibly talented stylist with an illustrious career working with fashion heavyweights (you might have heard of her long-time collaborator, photographer Bruce Weber), and her husband, Forest, is an equally successful set designer and prop stylist. So, basically a creative match made in heaven — and an impeccable taste level.
Forest built almost all of their home, when they stripped it entirely and then redesigned it, inspired by the lofts of Brooklyn that they both love but decided to leave behind in favor of a more peaceful home setting.
It’s a true retreat: minimal but, in the same instance, so warm and inviting. Touches of personal humor and memories blended with luxurious fabrics and elevated details — but in everything you sense the love and thought put into every square inch, the small contributions everyone in the family has made in making this tranquil abode a family home.
When and why did you decide to leave the city behind and move Upstate?
About 5 years ago. We wanted more space and to see trees every day!
What was the vision you had of living here? Has the reality matched that?
A loft in the woods…yes! I love the ease and simplicity of living here and of course when you have children it’s nice for them to have space to grow.
Your husband, a set designer and prop stylist, built your home, what was that process like?
It was cool because not only did he build the house, but Forest is also amazing at research and I love editing, so when he would have a million sample choices of a fixture or something I would edit it in like five minutes and we would keep moving forward. It was a great learning experience for me since I had never done it before, I have a feeling this may not be the last time either…
As a stylist who is always traveling, how do you balance your work schedule and also life Upstate?
I try to focus on what needs attention first and then go down the list…kids, work, fun? It’s also great that Forest and I both travel for work because we can “take turns” if we need to as far as the children go. There have been times that I have literally been on my way home from the airport as he is leaving for the airport! It’s a crazy lifestyle, I suppose, but our kids are used to it and it’s kind of cool because we each get to spend time alone with the kids and I think we all benefit from those times.
How did the move change your style?
I honestly don’t think it changed my style ;)
And your health?
It definitely changed the way I workout because, of course, I walked everywhere when we lived in Brooklyn and the city and I would take yoga classes, so I had to figure out how to stay fit up here. Now I love to trail run, it’s pretty awesome because the trail is constantly changing with the seasons so it never gets old for me. I also started kickboxing about a year ago at a place up here and I am definitely hooked (no pun intended).
Do you feel you find different sources of inspiration to those you had living in New York?
Yes, I am probably more inspired by nature and utility living outside the city, and we are close to Storm King and the DIA Beacon so I love to visit in the different seasons… But I am still the most inspired by people whether it’s a ballet dancer or an art student I see on the street.
What have been the best things about relocating out of the city?
BBQs and firepit! And of course being so close to so many beautiful parks, trails and lakes.
And the greatest challenges?
No take out!
Does your husband feel the same?
Forest grew up in Oregon and Hawaii, he needs to be in nature. It probably never would have occurred to me to move out of the city but, when he showed me this old barn, I could see the potential and I knew he would make it an amazing home for our family.
You mentioned a possible relocation soon to the west coast, what tempts you there?
Sunshine every day! We are beach people and we surf, so it would be fun to live at the beach all year long.
For those considering a move outside the city, what is your advice?
Go for it! Life is an adventure and, as my husband always says, “You can always move”.