unexpected guests: anna dorfman.
If you follow us on twitter, you probably know that lisa congdon, jenna parks and i recently spent a wonderful weekend with anna dorfman of door sixteen fame at her home in the City of Newburgh, new york. anna’s house was built in 1891 and sits on a high bluff overlooking the Hudson River in a section of the City of Newburgh known as Washington Heights, and she and her husband evan have done most of the restoration work themselves, learning as they go. it is most impressive, and a bit daunting when i think of all the work they’ve done, and how well they’ve done it. a book designer by day (and also the designer of my website!) anna is multi-talented and her home shows it in every way.
their home is stunning, but it’s also comfortable and most of all interesting — like a gallery where you keep discovering nuances that make it a uniquely personal and special space. i’ve taken a lot of detail shots of these special features for this tour, i hope you enjoy it here as much as i did in person. to follow more of anna and evan’s inspiring renovations, check out anna’s blog door sixteen. as if you hadn’t already.
What’s your best bargain/vintage find?
That’s a toughie—I’m a big bargain-hunter. Probably the house itself, honestly! If we’re talking contents, though, I’m going to have to go with my Arthur Umanoff bar cart. I got it for $30 at a junk shop in Kingston, NY. I regularly see them go for $1000–5000 at auction, so I think that was a pretty good score.
What’s your favorite feature/room in the home?
The downstairs bathroom. It’s the only room in the house that isn’t original (I think it was added sometime in the 1940s), and it was a real mess when we moved in. The whole room needed to be gutted, and we had to replace everything but the bathtub. It was an opportunity to really do anything we wanted, and I loved the challenge of exercising that freedom while still keeping the look of the bathroom in harmony with the rest of the house. Aside from the plumbing, we did all of the work ourselves. I discovered pretty quickly that I love tiling—and I’m good at it, too!
What bores you to death?
Myself, frankly. I am constantly over-analyzing and agonizing and picking apart details, and it’s both exhausting and dull. I roll my eyes at myself at least 20 times a day.
What are your top three etsy, handmade or online shops?
Fine Little Day Shop: I really love Elisabeth Dunker’s style. I think I have at least one thing she’s designed in each room of my house and my apartment.
Lila Rice: I have several pairs of Lila’s earrings, and they’re the fanciest pieces of jewelry I own. I’m not a big jewelry wearer, but I love a big earring—and Lila really does them perfectly.
Areaware: I’ve discovered so many new designers through this NYC-based company, and I’m constantly bookmarking cool new stuff and imagining it in my home. (One of these days I’ll get that Patrick Townsend chandelier!)
If you could go shopping with anyone in the world, who would it be?
We’re talking furniture and décor stuff here, right? Not clothes? If that’s the case, then I’ll say my mother. She and I have very similar tastes, and she has boundless amounts of energy and determination when it comes to looking for just the right thing. I love just watching her shop, actually. The way she considers textiles, weight, construction—it’s beautiful to see her thought process as she imagines how something would look in her home. Neither one of us ever wind up buying much, but we both enjoy browsing and hunting quite a bit.
Do you have a favorite quote or expression?
Oh, LOTS. Here are a few:
“I was never young. This idea of fun: Cars, girls, Saturday night, bottle of wine…to me, these things are morbid. I was always attracted to people with the same problems as me. It doesn’t help when most of them are dead.” ―Morrissey
“I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.” —Woody Allen
“Being rich is not about how much money you have or how many homes you own; it’s the freedom to buy any book you want without looking at the price and wondering if you can afford it.” ―John Waters
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” ―Christopher Hitchens