The countryside is calling. Already palpable before the pandemic, interest in the possibilities of rural living has now grown beyond what many of us could have ever imagined.
Of late, once-committed urbanites are now seeking extended or permanent refuge in rural and semi-rural locations, and with it, a new era of cosy living has emerged.
For those of us fortunate enough to choose where and how we reside, the wish is to be closer to nature and to simplify hectic daily routines. Leading us to re-examine the countryside as a desirable destination, to find not only peace and quiet but also creativity and connection.
This slow-living movement connects the pursuit of personal wellbeing with sustainable practices that respect the planet. Reaching beyond personal philosophies and permeating the spaces we call home, recent residents of the country are finding new and innovative ways to style their rural properties, combining traditional materials with modern aspects in order to create spaces that feel fresh, without compromising on design.
With cities such as Hudson in Upstate New York earning a reputation as an alluring country escape, this relaxed yet vibrant town is an ideal destination for those seeking proximity to nature. Hudson offers residents and visitors the chance to slow down, eat well, and revel in the pleasures of unrushed, creative pursuits - a mere two hours north of bustling Manhattan.
The same aspirations attracted Anthony D’Argenzio to the region in 2013 and soon convinced him to take on the top-to-bottom restoration of a century-old property that had fallen into disrepair. “I’ve always had a passion for everything visual”, explains the CEO and creative director of consultancy Zio and Sons, “so This old Hudson was a natural progression.”
Today, D’Argenzio lives in Hudson full-time, and the building and brand comprise four gorgeous apartments for rental, with This Old Hudson Maison as the latest to be completed.
Drawing inspiration from the diverse historical architecture of Hudson and its reputation as a center for antiques and contemporary creative entrepreneurship, when renovating this rural property, D’Argenzio was moved to redefine his approach to space, material, and style. “I like to layer and add color in funky ways…It’s about embracing a little bit of risk,” he remarks.
The Maison can therefore be seen as an amplified experience of his brand. Its rooms burst with relaxed linen textiles, quirky furniture (wrought iron, marble, painted wood, rattan bunk beds, a trolley on wheels), and luxurious flourishes.
As mentioned by D’Argenzio, whilst achieving “a more elevated look…still rustic and old-world inspired, but with little bits of glamor,” he was careful to retain the key existing features of his home. “The tall ceilings, original trims, and doors…These gave me the foundation to build upon, adding layers to make it a unique restoration.” He advises, “Even if you’re already working with an old home, you can bring in even more character with salvage.”
Everything seemingly clicked with the discovery of an old damask wallpaper. “When we were starting to renovate the Maison, I discovered a little bit of wallpaper peeking through…the colors were so good…whites, grays, and warm natural tones…it happened so organically that we decided to keep it.” The striking silver pattern perfectly encompasses D’Argenzio’s vision of faded decadence and modern comfort. “I really wanted to play with that ornateness but still make it feel bright and airy.” The resulting style is “texture-driven with an emphasis on antiques and wood, combined with glamorous pops of gold, gilt, and brass,” mentions the homeowner.
Still, none of this comes at the expense of coziness, “Comfort is high on my list of priorities,” D’Argenzio states, “I wanted this space to be functional as well as beautiful to accommodate our guests”.
Ultimately, “It’s a matter of balance”, reflects D’Argenzio. “If everything’s new, it won’t feel special…How do I create an environment that feels refreshing and unlike anything else?” His answer was to “incorporate a lot of vintage and custom pieces to make it feel like something that can’t be replicated.”
Homeowners such as D’Argenzio are re-imagining cosy living in order to embrace a shift in the way we live. Much like what we see in the renovation of This Old Hudson Maison, all the best examples of contemporary rural living are constructed from a strong knowledge of, and respect for, their environment.
Ultimately, an understanding of the content of a house, or the history of the land on which you plan to live, is essential in designing a country residence. After all, living beside nature is nothing new. We can learn how to live well today by studying the practices of yesterday, and D’Argenzio’s home is a beautiful example of just that.
This story was originally featured in Country and Cozy, a new title which opens the door to a more characterful approach to design and decoration by showcasing some of the world’s most beautiful country homes.