You have seen that house in the distance, just a tiny, lighted blip on an otherwise empty landscape. Who lives there? (And why not you?)
Nina Freudenberger’s Mountain House is a continent-spanning collection of homes that evoke that sense of curiosity, envy, and shapelessly fantasizing about a life away. The book is an exploration of how “architecture and interiors can embody and reflect their surrounding environments,” as Freudenberger writes in her introduction, but also how these environments can “reshape the lives of the people who live within them.” Including, in these excerpts, a few New Yorkers.
The Dream House in Windham, New York
The cabin in Windham, New York, has been in furniture designer Brian Persico’s family since the 1970s. It’s also where he met his wife, textile designer Hannah Haworth. (Persico had taken to throwing raucous parties at the cabin after he became its unofficial caretaker.) When the couple decided to move to Windham full-time, they’d planned to expand the 200-square-foot cabin, “but the idea of changing something that was so special, cutting it up and altering it, seemed sacrilegious,” Persico says. The choice to preserve the cabin as it was, Haworth continues, “freed us up to create something for our new life together rather than trying to implant something in the cabin.”
Miniwawa in Onteora Park, New York
Christiana Mavromatis and her husband, Scott Arnold, first laid eyes on what would become their summer house in New York’s Catskill Mountains on a frigid day in April. Snow covered the front lawn — in the summer, it is a thick sponge of damp green moss — and sap trickled slowly from the tapped maple trees lining the driveway. Mavromatis and Arnold had driven from their home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, more or less on a whim, curious to see the sprawling mansion they’d stumbled upon while looking at upstate properties that called for a renovation. Neither took the prospect seriously. “We’re not people who buy this kind of house; it was ridiculous,” Mavromatis says. “But from the moment we drove in, it felt magical.”
Bank House in Stone Ridge, New York
Art adviser Fiona Mackay gave birth to her son in early 2016 and immediately felt a need for space. “Raising a child in a tiny Brooklyn apartment seemed untenable,” she says, and so she and her partner at the time went looking for a house in the country. Friends from the city had recently bought a house in the village of Accord, New York, and while visiting them on a summer weekend in 2016, Mackay went out for a drive along a narrow country road. She fell in love and started looking for a home, eventually finding an 18th-century farmhouse in the village of Stone Ridge, north of the steep sandstone-cliff faces of the Shawangunk Mountains.