• at home with
    AT HOME WITH NICHOLAS BLAINE AND PAUL DENOLY
    The founders of design studio Hawkins New York talk about their transition to the slower pace of country living, and the history behind their 18th century farmhouse in upstate New York.
    October 14, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    As we pull up to Nick and Paul's home in Hudson, NY, the scene almost seems too idyllic to be real. An 18th century farmhouse, replete with its original stonework, sits alongside two big, red barns - home to a dairy farm for nearly a century. A stream runs along one side of the property, while acres of rolling hills fill the remainder of the backdrop. Silver plume Guinea hens scurry across the back lawn, as a sly house cat and Bernese mountain dog saunter in and out of the house. The fawning ensued as we stepped inside - endeared by the home's original farm doors, its massive brick fireplace, the formal dining table draped in linen, and a freshly-baked blueberry pie sitting on the kitchen island made from reclaimed wood.

    Couple Nicholas Blaine and Paul Denoly bought the property together five years ago, originally intended as a weekend retreat (also, a dream-worthy project for the two career designers). The pair had reunited after nearly a decade apart, and quickly realized a mutual desire to build a more permanent life together. After settling into their new home, their relationship developed a new dimension - as partners in a design studio they called Hawkins New York.
    While maintaining their respective careers in visual merchandising and product design, they began work on a design and production firm, partnering with makers from around the globe to help bring their ideas to market.

    As business developed, so did their fondness toward the tranquility offered by life upstate. Sandwiched between fellow passengers on the subway during his daily morning commute, Nick abruptly made the decision to abandon city life altogether and to make Hudson his permanent home. He negotiated a remote working arrangement with his then employer, only to leave shortly after to accommodate the growing demands of Hawkins New York. Paul eventually followed suit, and the couple recently expanded their business to a brick-and-mortar store on Hudson's bustling Warren St.

    Read more about Nick and Paul's transition to rural living, and shop their unique and considered designs for Hawkins New York.
  • What motivated the decision to move upstate full-time?

    Nick: We actually never planned on moving upstate full-time. We bought the home as a weekend property, and would drive up on Fridays after work and return on Sundays. But the more time we spent up here, the more we fell in love with the home and the area.

    One morning, I was on the subway on my way to work, and the trains were so crowded and I just had the epiphany - I needed and was missing the space of upstate. I talked to my boss and negotiated to work from upstate and would just come down to the city one day a week. But not long after, Hawkins had come into fruition and I eventually I left my job and took on Hawkins full-time.

    Paul continued to work in the city and would join me on weekends. His job paid the bills until we were at a point where we both could afford to work on Hawkins. He moved up here about a year ago, right after we had opened our store on Warren St.

  • How have you settled into the new lifestyle? Any regrets?

    Nick: Settling into life upstate has never been an issue, absolutely no regrets. If it weren't an easy train ride into the city, it may have been much different. There's a psychological comfort in knowing that we can wake up any day and easily be in the city within 2-3 hrs.

    Paul: The pace is definitely much slower and we spend a lot more time outside. We feel much more connected to ourselves, nature, and our community here. Hudson also is a town that has attracted people from the city for decades - it has a big design and art scene, so the sophistication level is high. Sometimes we joke that we're just in another, much further neighborhood of Brooklyn.

    Nick: The one thing we miss is quality international cuisine and that daily sense of surprise you get in the city. We both always loved that even if you took the same route to work everyday, you were always confronted with something new and different. We also have many weekend visits from friends in the city, and we actually feel that we have better quality time, than a rushed, after-work dinner.

  • The house was built around 1752 by the van Duesen family of Claverack, NY - one of the oldest Dutch families in the state.

  • CAN YOU TELL US THE STORY OF THE HOUSE?

    Paul: The house was built around 1752 by the van Duesen family of Claverack, NY - one of the oldest Dutch families in the state. It seems that it was originally only a one room house, with two additions shortly after - the first in brick and the second in local stone. In 1901, the Hiscox family added a wooden clapboard extension and ran the property as a dairy farm, which operated until the 1980s.

    We bought the house in 2011, after visiting the area for a wedding. Brokers were hesitant to show us the house because it needed massive work, but we had already fallen in love with it. A few years after buying the house and 8 acres, we bought the adjacent 17 acres of property.

  • How would you describe your design vision tastes or vision for the home?

    Nick: A sense of authenticity is the key for us, rather than any sort of design style. Paul and I are both very intuitively reactive with specific objects, don't you think?

    Paul: Yeah, Some of the pieces are from designers we've admired and loved - others are from trips we've been on. We once took a trip to Morocco and came back with 34 rugs, haha. Ultimately, for us, I think contrast and texture are really important. Let's say, we planned on the chairs and the table in a way that feels very modern. We offset that with a more primitive, country piece - one that still functioned and had clean lines. If everything in here were white and modern, I think it would have a really antiseptic feel.

  • shop the story
    HAWKINS NEW YORK
    Shop the beautifully considered home accessories designed by Nick and Paul for their studio Hawkins New York.
  • Hudson also is a town that has attracted people from the city for decades...Sometimes we joke that we're just in another, much further neighborhood of Brooklyn.

  • Would you say that your tastes are generally complementary, or are there moments of contention?

    Nick: It's funny, when we first got together, he was more of a maximalist, and I was more of a minimalist, and to some extent we've combined.

    Paul: Yeah and I would say that I'm still very drawn to color, but I'm a little more subdued with it. I came to realize that I don't have to have everything. I just want the best - or not even necessarily the best, but the things I connect with the most. Nick is a big part of my becoming more mature.

    Nick: I also think with age comes confidence, and we're both at the point where we just like what we like. And together, we're a little more considered in our choices. When you make choices for two, you want to be respectful of the other person. When you're on your own, it doesn't matter as much.

  • What motivates how or what you create for Hawkins?

    Paul: In all honesty, it's usually driven by an idea of something we'd like to have for ourselves, but can't find. That's where it really started out, and that's what Hawkins is about. We may conceive of something, or come across an inspiration from a book, but have no idea where to find it. Or, something about the original design is not quite right.

    But other times, we feel like certain things can't be improved upon, and there's no sense in even trying to do anything that comes close to it. Like the candlesticks in our living room - I've been coveting those for 15 years, and Nick has as well. We wouldn't want to try emulating something that's already perfect.

  • Ultimately, for us, I think contrast and texture are really important...If everything in here were white and modern, I think it would have a really antiseptic feel.

  • Together, we're a little more considered in our choices. When you make choices for two, you want to be respectful of the other person. When you're on your own, it doesn't matter as much.

  • I came to realize that I don't have to have everything. I just want the best - or not even necessarily the best, but the things I connect with the most.

  • ...
    "I just found a crazy man in Las Vegas who would make me a bird cage the way I wanted it. We had a big recess in that wall that felt awkward with anything we tried to put in it. And as we started to accumulate more and more animals, the finches just naturally happened. Every bird cage on the market is the most hideous thing you can imagine."
  • One morning, I was on the subway on my way to work, and the trains were so crowded and I just had the epiphany - I needed and was missing the space of upstate.

  • ...
    "One thing I love is stuff that Paul and I bought together on trips, like the rug that's actually the daybed cover in there.I remember drinking mint tea and going through rug after rug with Paul on a backstreet in Morocco. Every time I look at it, I think of that."
    - Nick
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