unexpected guests: anna dorfman.
by victoria comment


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

• all photos sfgirlbybay; except downstairs bathroom which i shot badly! those are by anna dorfman.

84 responses to “unexpected guests: anna dorfman.”

  1. This is awesome. I love being able to see Anna’s home through your eyes Victoria. It totally gives the house a different feeling, and there are so many details that I adore (that clock with the dinos!). Lovely lovely.

  2. Haha “I roll my eyes at myself at least 20 times a day.”

    I do the same, for both over analyzing, but also saying stupid things…. then analyzing why i said a stupid thing… then eye roll.

  3. Love this little glimpse into Anna’s home… love her bold use of black and white. And she’s obviously a rock chick…love it!!!

  4. Wow! Great shots of an inspiring home. I can’t even imagine the energy, time and patience it would require to restore a home built so long ago. Lots of corners I haven’t seen photographed on Door Sixteen before. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you for sharing, love, love, love! Would you by any chance have any info on those wonderful textiles in the last photo?

  6. Gorgeous, Anna! I applaud your self restraint… nothing worse than a home crowded by chotchkies! I’m dying over the fireplaces, and that simple wooden shelf above the bed… brilliant!

  7. Anna’s house is my favourite house in the universe. This is the best post EVER, thank you so much for sharing :)

    Also, I’m totally jealous of your cute little blog group of friends. You guys are the cool-blog-kids. Love it.

  8. Thank you for sharing these photos of my house, Victoria! I feel so honored. :) :)

    @Ana: From top to bottom, the textiles in that last photo are from Happy Habitat, Pendleton, Urban Outfitters, Klippan Yllefabrik, IKEA, and IKEA.

    @Jeannine: The blanket on the bed in the room with the black wall is from IKEA, and the spread on the bed with the yellow pillows is an African mud cloth.

  9. Totally love this home…..so stark in it’s lines and patterns, yet so warm too. It’s a fine line to balance and I love how she made it look so effortless.

  10. as i love anna´s home, i was waiting for this post! amazing how different and distant your photos are, as you took pictures of her house, whereas she takes pictures of her home.

  11. ah! i saw anna tweet that you’d be showing this today! so amazing. thanks for sharing. anna, perfectly curated and perfectly home-y. inspirational.

  12. So fun to see Anna’s beautiful home through your lens! Thanks for sharing. After seeing a tiny glimpse of Anna’s mom’s house (on her doorsixteen blog or maybe instagram) and hearing Anna’s praise of her mom’s good eye I’m hoping a future house tour of the woman who inspires her is in the works?! If not, I’m officially requesting one!

  13. Really beautiful. I love the artwork. I have that Obama poster too. Great colour in it.

  14. I love Anna’s homes! I love that there’s so much monochrome going on, but she’s also not afraid of colour and uses it perfectly.

    Her homes are one of my major inpsirations in making my rental semi-attractive, although it’s quite hard with Australian laws surrounding rental agreements!

  15. oooo what blue/black paint is that on the walls in the living/dining room? it’s lovely (as is the rest of the place)!

  16. This photos are so wonderful, Victoria. I had to tell myself all the time while scrolling downwards: “No, this is not a magazine shoot. She did this awsome work herself.” Wow!

  17. I love this home, so cool. I’d really like to know where the gorgeous bird artwork is from? (in the dining room shot, on the top shelf).

  18. This post made me very, very happy (and inspired!) and I wish I could have visited with you ladies! LOVE ANNA’s HOUSE.

  19. anna’s home is superb.
    the integrity that she and her husband put into its care is obvious.

    super post, victoria.
    oh, another vote for a looksee into her mother”s home!

    happy weekend, y’all.

  20. Amazing!! If I had to do a ranking of favorite interiors, this would have to be right hot here at the top! I would love to know more about their bedding and pillows?

    • Hi, Deeyn! I think I listed all of the various blankets/bedding items in a previous comment, but if I missed one let me know. :) Is there a particular pillow you’re curious about? I know I have a bunch! I love me some textiles…

      • Hi Anna! Your place is amazing!! Please tell me this has been years in the making? I was curious about the black and white pillows in the living room and in the room with the black wall? Btw, great match up with the white pendent lighting against the black wallpaper. That looks incredible!

      • Yes, we’ve been working on our house for six years now! If you visit my blog, there’s a “The House / Newburgh” category where you can go back in time and see things progress. :)

        The pillows with the teardrop shapes are from CB2, and the ones with the trees are made by Elisabeth Dunker (there’s a link to her Fine Little Day shop in the post).

  21. I love seeing more of Anna’s stunning home- it perfectly reflects her aesthetic. The pops of color are awesome. And I’ve never heard that John Waters quote before but it’s fantastic! Great post, great photos :)

  22. Love this so hard – awesome eye, awesome home.
    And I love Fine Little Day and Elisabeth’s aesthetic too – the cushion I have of hers is one of my favourite things.
    Thanks Anna and Victoria for sharing.

  23. Wow, I just love Anna’s style so fricken much. That and she’s got great (GREAT) taste in music.
    But the thing that really stole my heart was the Hitchens quote.

  24. Just looked again! Love Anna’s home:) Her taste is impeccable and I admire it so much.
    Victoria do you think Anna would mind if we pinned these? I won’t if she isn’t comfortable about it.

  25. Thank you for all of the nice comments about my house, everybody! It’s a very nice place to be. :)

    And thank you SO much to Victoria for taking such lovely photos…I feel truly honored. xoxox

  26. Dear Lord, this is even better than I could have hoped. Beautiful, beautiful photos. I just don’t have a lot to say, because this is all just so freaking fabulous. Beyond words. I am bowled over and want to move in immediately. I’ve seen many snippets before, but seeing all of this together is just exquisite. Beautifully curated home and beautifully photographed. Wow.

  27. I follow Anna’s blog and admire her skills (house renovation, style, graphic design!), and her writing. It’s very interesting to see her house through someone else’s eyes – and camera.

    I must say I am disappointed to see a dead cow (?) as a floor covering in her house. I know Anna follows a vegan diet. But I do not understand this trend, it’s not in any way attractive – it’s death as decoration. I am surprised to see it here.

    • Jenny, yes, I also have lots of wool blankets and wool upholstery and I wear leather shoes and belts, too. Leather and wool and feathers are all just as cruel (if not more so) as hide rugs, sadly, but for some reason we tend to call out the hides more readily. Maybe because of the shape?

      I have indeed had a totally vegan diet for about 2 years now (and was a vegetarian for about 20 years before that), but I have not yet managed to extend that completely to the rest of my life. It’s tough to draw a line when most of these things (including that rug) were purchased many years before I started eating a vegan diet. I don’t believe in throwing things away without good reason, and I’m not much of a consumer—I prefer to buy once and then keep something for many, many years. I’ve had some of my well-made leather shoes for over a decade now. It seems far more wasteful, cruel, and environmentally destructive to me to dispose of poorly-made goods that might not contain animal products after only a year or two. That has nothing to do with my rug, but I’m just making the point that veganism and personal ethics are not always easily divided into black and white.

      At the end of the day, though, I’ve had that rug for years now, and I have no desire to throw it (or any of my wool rugs, sweaters, blankets, or pillows) away. Would I buy the rug again today? No, I wouldn’t, but I can’t go back in time. The rug stays, and that doesn’t make me any more or less noble or ethical than if it went in a landfill.

  28. I will never tire of looking at Anna’s home. Thanks for sharing the photos…they are beautiful.

  29. holy crap. i’m pretty sure i’m drooling. i loved your house, anna, when you did a house tour for me on apartment therapy. but this, this is freakin’ stunning. i want to go all black-and-white now, although i’m not sure how that’d go over on a houseboat.

    thanks, victoria and anna+evan, for sharing.

  30. It is such a beautiful, well-considered home. So very inspirational for people renovating their older style homes. Thanks for the tour. xx

  31. Oh geez how awesome is this??? What a gorgeous space. Everything about it is so inviting-but-cool.

    btw, I too love your friendship…..you guys are the coolest.

  32. Hi Anna and Victoria!
    I’m still in love with Anna’s place and this is definitely not my first revisit to the post! My eyes are sort of taking the pics in layers and now I see that you have some amazing prints. Can you tell me who makes the mountain/volcano print and the blue and red trippy stripe print in the hallway?

  33. hi!! Love this so much! What’s the black and white wallpaper in the paper? And the wall colors? Thanks!

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