before and after

Before & After: Hudson Valley Home Transformation

by Amy Azzarito

Every time I get an email from Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co., my heart skips a little beat because I know it’s going to be something good. The couple runs a vintage shop and design business here in Brooklyn where they do custom work, carpentry, wall finishes, etc. Last summer we featured their eight-week sublet in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and before that, we featured their Philadelphia home here. In the FAQs on their website, Tara and Percy wrote that their dream job would be if someone bought a house, gave them a budget and keys and said, “Here. I trust you. Make it beautiful.” I think they’re still pinching themselves, but that’s exactly what happened in this Hudson Valley home. Consider this a little preview of Monday’s sneak peek, when we’ll be sharing the entire home. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: Kitchen: The kitchen was one thing that the homeowner, Debby, for sure wanted to change. She hated the stained glass window and the general country-kitchen-ness to it all. We wanted this to be a kitchen you could really use. We’d seen enough to know that Debby’s family loved to cook and learned the hard way that the lack or restaurants around meant you pretty much HAD to cook. Percy is a great puzzle solver and spent some days figuring out how we could maximize counter space and hide things that we didn’t love, namely, the fridge. We had seen some great pictures of dual-toned kitchens like this, and it seemed like a great way to freshen up the idea of classic wainscoting. We spent many, many days (special thanks to Kathy Bright!) priming and painting and repainting the dark half of the kitchen, but what a rewarding process. The result was so slick and classic. And that sharp division line around the room was just exciting to look at. All of the things we didn’t want to see seemed to disappear into the dark lower half, and things we did want to see, like our perfectly white and mismatched dishes, were displayed in lath-clad cabinets or on butcher-block countertops. We instantly wanted to bake pies and stews. Complete success. The only things that remain from the old kitchen are the floors, the fridge, the oven, a few of the drawers and the glass doors from the old built-in that we re-used. I only wish we could have kept those green summer leaves outside, as well. (Paint color: Black Horizon, Benjamin Moore)

See more of this Hudson Valley home after the jump . . .

Time: Debby and her family, the greatest clients that anyone could ever ask for, had just relocated to a new Brooklyn apartment and closed on an upstate house and needed some help turning these places into homes. And they wanted it fast. Debby had two dreams: To make their Brooklyn apartment functional as quickly as possible and to be able to spend Thanksgiving upstate with her family feeling at home and not surrounded by unpacked boxes and empty spaces. It was September.

We took on their Brooklyn apartment as a trial run, and after loving what we did with the place, Debby trusted us enough to completely take over their upstate renovations. We went up to check out the house, which was completely empty except for a few boxes of clothes, some pots and pans and an Ikea table. To this day, I’m not exactly sure what Debby thought she was getting herself into, but we came back to her with a plan to design, renovate, furnish and style the entire house. To our utter delight, she gave us her blessing, and we got to work.

At times like this, I really wish I kept a more detailed calendar, but to the best of our memory, we took the entire house from before to after in about 85 days.

Image above: Ian’s Room: From what I hear, all of the kids wanted this room, so maybe we jumped the gun calling it Ian’s room, but we thought of him during the design process, so I think it became his room long before the kids had anything to say about it. We were dying to rip up the rugs in there no matter what but could never have imagined we’d find beautiful wide-plank flooring underneath. Well, at least in half of the room. We decided to embrace the split in the room by painting half of the floor and refinishing the other half. With a bold statement on the floors, we wanted to keep the rest of the room pretty neutral. I kept saying, “It needs something, it needs something,” and in the end, the lath wall was just that. Everything in the room is handmade or vintage except the lamp (Home Goods) and bedding (Ikea Down Comforter & Hanes Sheets).

Image above: Living Room: This room seemed easy enough to transform, but we did our best to complicate the process. While we originally planned on just furnishing the room, we ended up redoing the floors, plastering the walls, painting the fireplace, replacing the mantel AND furnishing it. It is now the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. And oh, the joy of a fireplace. It begs you to relax, and sometimes you simply have to listen. Everything in the room is handmade or vintage except the tufted couch (Home Decorator’s Collection), the silver standing lamp (Ikea) the rugs (Home Goods!) and some of the throw pillows. (Paint color on fireplace: Black Horizon, Benjamin Moore)

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  • “This room seemed easy enough to transform, but we did our best to complicate the process.” … story of my life.

    gorgeous! and i just can’t believe the time frame. what a dream job…can’t wait to see the whole peek.

  • The cabin style bedroom and the living room afters are lovely, but is it just me or does the kitchen seem less inviting in the after? I kind of preferred the before with all its white paint – the black paint seems to have been a slight misstep. Just my opinion since I don’t have to live there!

  • Nice, in a very American way… Never covered a N.American home (though I’ve seen a few). I like Ian’s Room especially, very cool though I wonder how many teens would appreciate it…

  • It’s a really lovely space, you’ve done a great job with it! However, this is one of the very few before/afters where I actually kinda prefer the ‘before’. I have a bit of a white obsession going on though. xD

  • The before and afters are my absolute fav!!!! While home browsing in Philadelphia, I’ve seen soo many fireplaces that look like the last BEFORE shot. I’ve found myself completely drawing a blank when it comes to a renovation for them. I love what they did with that fireplace!

  • JoAnna, I agree with you about the kitchen–but the homeowner didn’t like the original. In my mind the original was so light and airy–I loved it. I actually clicked over to see if they mixed up the before and after pictures. To each their own, I guess. I do love the plank wall in the bedroom and the floors.

  • Love their work…that would also be my dream job, wow! I must agree on the kitchen-I prefer the white and bright “before” to the after, but I enjoy the use of black and the bold choices with paint and design.

  • I can see from the pictures that one might prefer the before, but I can tell you, as the owner, that the AFTER is a dream. The existing kitchen was and 80’s addition that wasn’t fun to cook in. Tara and Percy took what was there and made it fresh and honest to the house. They thought of so many details that make it a joy to cook in.

  • can’t get enough of what these two do, they really have the midas touch when it comes to home renovation! everything that you’ve featured by them has absolutely amazing and this is no exception. the transformation here is wonderful and they’ve created such a lovely, unique space for Debby and her family. i can’t wait to see more of this house and from these two in general!

  • Usually in life you either have the time or the money. Tara and Percy had the time and Debby had the money – what a great team and wonderful results.

    So happy to see the before and afters back!

  • The kitchen may be a case of having to see it in person to appreciate it . Perhaps pictures don’t capture it well but have to agree it would not have been my choice, the bedroom is wonderful.

  • Honestly, this is the first time I have ever preferred before pictures to after pictures. I have in mind the old sayings “Leave well enough alone” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  • Have to agree with the majority on the kitchen – i think it was so light, airy and pretty before and i couldn’t live with all that black… but it’s the customer who has to be happy. Love the bedroom though!

  • Thanks for all the comments, guys!

    To the people who think they prefer the before kitchen, I don’t think you would feel the same way if you’d been in the space.

    The before kitchen did indeed have a lot of white (plus in the photo it was summertime, which didn’t hurt), but it also had linoleum countertops, a cheap stainless sink and faucet, white 4×4 tiles with vegetables painted on them, green-and-white checkerboard outlet covers, a weird little stained glass window tucked awkwardly in a high corner, cheap shelving made from home depot crown molding, and the fridge blocking off the entire room. Not only was it cheap and poorly designed, it didn’t fit with the rest of the house. The after kitchen does. It is still extremely bright and inviting from the sky light and the large windows over the sink. (In fact, it was so bright in there that we had to close the curtains to get a decent photograph!) The paint is not black, it is called Black Horizon but is actually just a dark grey. It’s a gorgeous backdrop for copper utensils, fruits and veggies, wood countertops, and the plasterwork above. When you’re there, it’s actually a very romantic and cozy space to cook and spend time in.

    Hope that helps give a better feel for the space!

    PS @Erika We used USG Diamond Veneer Finish in most of the house, pigmented to the color we wanted.

  • Please tell me more about the kitchen sink- can’t wait to see the rest of it!

  • I guess I am weird! I LOVE the after-kitchen! I, too, question the use of black, but somehow, it works so well! The before kitchen was fussy, prissy, and now Percy adds without saying it “cheaply done.” IMHO, it was a very “common” kitchen with not alot of character. Totally different, now. Great job. My other WOW room is the living room. I have a brick chimney and hearth with a beam just like that- but my beam is a goldy yellowy shiny polyurethane finish. YECH! I thought I hated it- but if I could paint my brick black and refinish my beam to that walnut color (I don’t know, is that walnutty??) I would love it. My other issue is that my brick goes all the way to the ceiling. Don’t think I could do that all black…but I would love to get some drywall covering that part of the chimney. It’s so hard to hang anything on the brick- nothing pops.
    Thank you for a preview of what I can do and help really defining what I like!

  • Weird transformation. Can’t imagine being happy in that black kitchen. In fact the only after pic I thought showed an improvement was the one of the painted fireplace. Even then I think when you make black a dominant feature in a room you will soon find it overbearing and be checking out new paint colors.

    • Isabelle

      I understand if that color isn’t for you, but I know a good amount of people who’ve lived with black walls for a while now. While I know it’s not for everyone- I think black walls are timeliness and pretty darn awesome if you’re into dark colors (like I am)

      Grace :)

  • I would have left the stained glass window and the before fireplace (I hate painted brick, just a personal thing against it lol), but I love everything else.

  • I’m puzzled by the negative comments. I think the the “afters” are stunning. Much more clean and sleek. The before pics looked a bit dowdy. To each their own!

    Look forward to seeing the whole house Monday.

  • I absolutely love the after kitchen! I can really see how the before kitchen is not as clean and bright as some would believe from the before photo, having my own share of experience with remodels and photos. I think allowing a little peek of colorful cookware or your own good taste in art to intrude, is all the photos needed to convince the viewers ;) It’s great!

  • I love the result. I especially like the sink feature in the kitchen with its little legs underneath – so unique! And the deep drawers under the glass cupboards are lovely, particularly their handles on the deep grey paint.

  • A lot of these rooms are beautiful, I love the bedroom, for example. I have to agree with the chorus of others about the kitchen however. Maybe it’s the curtains, the green view out of the window in the before is so pretty. And I guess I’m nostalgic for old fashioned kitchens, they remind me of my grandmother. I like having appliances with modern technology but a classic look, and old fashioned cabinetry. I do appreciate sleek, modern looks with lots of marble, but in general the before is more to my taste.

  • looks wonderful, love what you did with those built-ins in the kitchen—though it looks like you have a lovely view with those over the sink windows, i’d open up those curtains and let the sun shine in :)

  • First this is a stunning home, so tastefully done! Second, as a photographer I am guessing that the dark walls don’t photograph as well as they look in really life. In general digital cameras don’t do well with contrast and any detail in the darks tends to get blocked up in that type of situation. Third, I am getting tired of the negative Nellys commenting on DS! If you don’t have anything nice to say just keep it to yourself. People are kind enough to open up their lives and homes for us to be inspired. Negative comments don’t belong here, these are people’s homes! Respect that! Keep your negative comments to yourself, it doesn’t add anything to this site.

  • This has to be the first time I’ve not been completely wowed by the ‘After’. The black in the kitchen makes it quite dark and drab, no? I prefer the white (although I like the revamped kitchen sink!).

    I do like the redesigned living room (or ‘lounge’ as we say here in Australia), although again, I’m not sure about the black!

    Love black for clothes, not so much for decorating, I guess.

  • Everything that Percy and Tara have done is flawless and wildly creative. If this were my home, I would be the proudest person of all. The texture and personality that they added to every corner is truly amazing. I especially love the black kitchen. The pop of green of the sink legs is a wonderful surprise. Amazing work.

  • Wow! That bold line of black in the kitchen is so striking! I love how committed they were to the color and took it across the modified existing built-in. Great renovation and thank you for sharing!

  • What a nice job! The combination of textures and colors give the place a completely different view. The use of wood on the bedroom creates a very unique and original look.
    The after kitchen is totally original (nothing typical and common) and the sink is stunning!

  • I love the black kitchen, in fact it’s the inspiration I need for my own kitchen makeover! I can’t express how much better it looks than the twee white ‘before’ pictures. I wasn’t going to comment, but I wanted to counter the herd of people saying they liked the ‘before’ better. I love the way it makes the colours stand out where they are used – pale green and blue (pans) can be a bit girly, but not with that striking background!

  • The dark and light contrast is striking and gives much more of a visual impact than the plain white kitchen that is was before.

  • Loved the Afters on everything But the kitchen. The white was way too much but the black is hideous. I personally would of went for a brown for the cabinets or a rustic look to match the rooms. Maybe some rustic or copper knobs for the cabinets and a wash stain or marble effect or even taking out the cabinets and adding a mirror door or glass door with shelves. But its not my house so ohwell.

  • Love, love, love this…especially the kitchen! So simple, yet so effective. The black is fabulous and I love the chalky, matt quality of the paint. No better backdrop for timeworn timber kitchenwares, copper metallic accents and that stand-out ceramic sink! I’d happily call it my own!

  • I like the after pictures, except the drapes. Those windows are so pretty to cover up. But maybe I am not used to this type of drape coming back in style, yet. I’ll own that much.

  • That black is stunning. It is warm, cozy, inviting and soft. I couldn’t applaud the mantel makeover more. My only question is how does the chimney draw now that the doors are off? We refaced a fireplace and the room got smokey even after a chimney relining and firebox rebuild.