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10.24.2019 / John's House

My Country House Library

When I bought this house there was a small tobacco barn attached to the side of it; it was rough and not winterized. This was a perfect spot for my messy printing studio in the summer, just not so perfect in the winter.

After living in the house for a few years and tripping over books, I decided I needed a library and a bathroom on the ground floor. I called my old pal, Sara Bengur, a simpatico interior designer and one of my first clients many moons ago.  Sara, who is originally from Istanbul, got the ethnic vibe I wanted and could keep me somewhat in check if I went over the top.

I knew I wanted a dark room, stained floors and walls to pop textiles off and to feel like a library/opium den. I already had carved benches with storage underneath them to go along a slanted wall, so the long benches could show off antique pillows and my mask collection from India and Nepal.  It would be like the masks were joining into the conversation since they were at eye level when seated! What would they say and would they behave?

I also had some large Sinan mosque inspired bookcases that would give me space for books and objects. I started with Colby Wong, an architect from the city, who finessed the architecture of the room and how it would fit into the existing house- which was no easy matter.  Then Sara helped me sort out the practical points like where to sit.  I used some of my Duralee furniture line and a very heavy Naga coffee table. Drapes were different prints and I swayed back and forth between blues and coffee colors and decided to change them seasonally since I could not decide!

 I grabbed a round table from Michael Trapp for my desk and also to repurpose as a dinner table.  For a small intimate dinner with 4 people, the table works perfectly.  I prodded my pal Richard Wrightman for some of his campaign chairs that I think go perfectly with the heavy teak table.

Designing the half bath was a fun process.  My Diba Sapphire wallpaper makes the small space really pop.  Of course the light fixture and custom sink from Michael Trapp steal the show in here, and the Durga mask keeps a watchful eye.

A few Tibetan trunks under the window end up being good places for small objects like mini shrines, a stuffed peacock, of course birds, as my old lady can never have enough.  Some bark cloth paintings from Papa New Guinea pop out from the deep walls. Some chandeliers from India that loom overhead and some modern lamps from a vintage store with Abaca shades bring in some much needed pops of light. Finally, I went on a Tulu carpet spree in Istanbul to fill the room in the winter with really loud colors.  In the summer I roll them up and replace them with Indigo dhurries. I am exhausted just thinking about it all but am incredibly happy with the versatility of the room in a small country house where you need to expand and contract with guests.