I grew up in a small village in the south of Holland, so it's something I've always wanted. The smells and stonework actually remind me a lot of my town growing up. It's very rural, and still a work in progress, but that's what I really like about it - I wouldn't want it to ever be finished or perfect. I've recently started to see more and more people moving here from the city, but it's still under the radar. Plus, everything's so spread out that you don't ever run into people.
My friends purchased a weekend home here a couple of years ago, so I would visit often and got to the know the area well. I actually became friends with the previous owners of this house, and they knew that if they were ever going to leave, I'd be really interested in buying it. So that's how it happened. The house was never on the market, there was no middle person - it was very quick and easy.
It's a collection. I've purchased things continually over the past seven years. You know, it's about the layers - these things don't just come together in a month. I didn't have a dining table for the longest time because I just couldn't find the right one. After a year and a half, I finally found one in a vintage store around here, and that was it. The process is similar to how I design the line for J Crew. It's emotional and very personal - it's hard to explain how it all happens. I know that I need it when I see it.
Oh, absolutely. It feels like it's the same process. I love a new pair of unwashed jeans against a battered leather jacket. And I like a modern house, next to an old barn - mixing it all together. That's what makes things interesting, and that's how we put stuff together at J Crew. It's inspiring to have the NYC skyline during the week, and the country on the weekends - it's the best of both worlds.
I don't want people to get the feeling that they have to take their shoes off. Everything is a little rough, but elegant - in a country like way. I like when things are imperfect and clash - something like a clean sofa next to a farm table. High and low, that tension you create - I love that. People get in here, and often say “Wow, it has great energy.” And then I also have the outdoors. I've never had grounds like this before, so as soon as I moved here, I bought every gardening book. It almost feels like a painting - so many different colors and textures.
No, it's more about how everything works together. I do really like the wood burning stove though. It's a machine, and just eats through wood, but it gives such a cozy feeling in the winter. And I really love books, so these shelves are important - they were actually here when I moved in. When I first got the house, there were so many trips of just moving boxes of books.