I get very mood-board-y,” thinks fashion stylist Kate Young, reflecting on her approach to designing her own homes. The same, she explains, is true when it comes to designing red carpet ensembles for Jennifer Lawrence, Selena Gomez and Dakota Johnson.
“I like to study, choose pieces and mix it all up.” So you could say her own personal Oscars were the circa 1945 Bauhaus-style home in Woodstock, New York, which she shares with her husband, record executive Keith Abrahamsson, and their two sons, Stellan and Leif. Armed with original plans by modernist William Muschenheim (taken from Columbia University’s Avery Library) and aided by their architect friend Graydon Yearick, the couple set out to revive the spirit of the house, executing an almost gut-testing renovation after having bought it three years ago. “Many have been replaced to look like the original,” says Young, alluding to the new lightboxes and stealth built-ins. “Everything has really been done to live and feel comfortable.”
Strategic additions paved the way for the couple’s en-suite bathroom, a roof terrace and a larger kitchen that nods to Richard Neutra’s VDL House. Open birch shelves display Young’s pottery collection, which includes earthenware vessels by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., angular plates by Vallauris and a selection of his own works (on display at the nearby Byrdcliffe Arts Colony ). “I’m prolific, I do so many ugly things,” Young pokes fun at the family’s daily wares.
A holiday on the Côte d’Azur, where the family stayed at the Hotel Les Roches Rouges and visited Eileen Gray’s house E-1027, crystallized the surrounding decorative sensibility. “I wanted everything to be light, well-designed and warm,” Young says, describing the mental picture she collected during the trip. Pops of color in the spirit of the French Riviera now appear in the form of a school bus yellow tap, cobalt balustrade and the exterior tomato red spiral staircase that leads to the roof. (This rise echoes that of the former Massachusetts home of Walter Gropius, which exerted a lasting influence on Muschenheim.) Textiles in the house tend towards sturdy Baltic linens, some inherited from his Lithuanian father, others gleaned from Etsy. “Fashion is my job, so for fun I buy furniture,” says Young, highlighting early purchases like Mario Bellini sofas and a round pine dining table designed by Charlotte Perriand for French ski resort Les Bows. The vibe in mind, says Young, was “utilitarian, family-friendly, upscale design.”
His family of four, plus Nagini — the Siamese cat, named after Voldemort’s snake — usually drive north from their Brooklyn home after school. Weekends are spent with friends hiking the Comeau Property Trail or skiing Hunter Mountain. At home, Abrahamsson often returns from his walks with a trash bag full of moss, which he uses to fashion quilt-like Japanese-style gardens all over the 15-acre grounds.