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For interior designer John Willey, it was all about the bones. For six months, John and his partner, Frederick Aronstein, had been searching for the ideal weekend getaway in Upstate New York. But none of the houses resonated until he viewed a 1990s Millerton, New York, home on a real estate site.
While the pleasing proportions of the 2,000-square-foot Colonial-style house first caught his eye, he had to look past the less-than-ideal interior choices to see the true beauty.
“It was painted in horrible colors,” John says. “The walls were a buttery yellow and all the beams and the floors were dark brown—very heavy looking. But I could see the bones through that and envision something better.”
That “something better” included changing the interior colors to match John’s preference for the pure-looking tonal hues typical of Scandinavian homes. “I wanted just whites and grays and blacks—a very calming color scheme since we deal with color and pattern through the course of the day here at the office,” he says.
Beaded-board walls throughout the home were painted either black or light gray, and the ceilings and exposed beams were painted high-gloss white for an airy feel. John took a modern approach to furnishings, too, pairing midcentury pieces, such as the vintage walnut chairs and the Adrian Pearsall floor lamp in the dining room, with bold artwork and distinctive light fixtures.
In the kitchen, a green laminate countertop gave way to natural granite with gray and cream tones, and the existing cabinetry traded its dowdy chocolate brown finish for high-gloss black.
Upstairs, ebonized black floors and light gray walls mirror the crisp palette throughout the main floor. However, rather than paint the upper-level ceilings white, John chose to leave the original stained pine intact, preferring the natural warm glow imparted by the wood tones. New dark-tone porcelain floor tiles and floor-to-ceiling white subway tile with black grout add vintage allure to the master bath.
It’s been two years since the home was finished, and John and Frederick are savoring their country getaway. “It’s fantastic to come up on a Friday, light a fire, relax with friends, or just enjoy the sounds of nature,” John says. “Every little corner—the whole place—brings me joy.”
TEXT BY NANCY CHRISTIE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN BESSLER
FIELD EDITOR ANNA MOLVIK