Interiorssneak peeks

A Young Couple’s Charm-Filled Hudson Valley Home

by Maxwell Tielman

Photography by Maxwell Tielman.

I had never met Julian Lesser and Philippe Trinh, a New York City-based artist/designer couple, when I stayed at their house for the first time. Their home, dubbed “The Saint James,” doubles as a weekend retreat for travelers and, last winter, I had the pleasure of staying there with a few friends. Located in the middle of Kingston, New York, a charming Hudson Valley town seemingly ripped from the pages of a Normal Rockwell book, the cozy house is filled with a mixture of modern and vintage finds, rustic charm, and quiet decadence. From its lavishly appointed sitting room, outfitted in stylish hood chairs and antique pieces, to the organic vegetable garden in the back, I got the sense that transforming this house had been quite an undertaking—a labor of love and countless years of work.

It wasn’t until Philippe invited my boyfriend and I back to The Saint James for a celebratory cocktail after we, too, had become Kingston residents, that the truth behind their renovation finally came to light. To our surprise, the magic-power couple had only closed on the 1890s Victorian mere months before our stay. During just this brief period, Julian and Philippe had taken the home from a sad state of disrepair—a ragged, un-landscaped exterior, and an interior broken and desecrated by years of vandals, squatters, and weather—to a state of near-completion. For anybody who has taken on a home renovation of their own, the transformation—often wrought by the couple’s own four hands—is downright vexing. While the home is still being tweaked and updated, albeit at a slightly slower pace these days, what was once a dilapidated house amongst the area’s more stately homes is now a neighborhood gem. For more photos (before shots included!) and Julian and Philippe’s design notes, continue after the jump! —Max

Above image: The grand entryway boasts a striking stairwell, left minimal to showcase the original framed panels, painted white to keep things clean and bright.

Above image: The Living Room is a perfect mixing of old with modern.  The Restoration Hardware linen chairs are offset with some antique finds from the Hudson Valley.  Some favorite vintage pieces include the leather animals, brass peacock screen and the spotted cowhide.


See all the photos of this Hudson Valley Home after the jump!

Above image: Elegant with a masculine touch, the ornate Versailles mirror softens the room while rugged pieces like the antique barn chair, 1800’s shot gun and cast iron animals help to add a masculine touch. Wall color chosen from Valspar’s historic color range.

Above image: Unlined raw burlap linen curtains [hand-made] provide shade while letting in a natural filtered light.  The vintage barn table serves as a side table for the room.

Above image: Walls were stripped down to the original plaster and glazed with a clear finish. This room was inspired by mid-century Danish design seen in the side chair and teak bar.

Above image: The Formal Dining room is furnished with a vintage pedestal oblong dining table with dark Windsor chairs, side hutch, and cast iron candle chandelier.  Original to the home, the plate shelf holds antique porcelain ware.

Above image: Rustic and modern, the mid century rectangle gaming table and modern Room & Board sectional provides a casual atmosphere to entertain.

Above image: Fresh heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant are harvested from The Saint James’ gardens.


Above image: Vintage finds from the Hudson Valley including original prints and needle point paintings adorn the top of the staircase.

Above image: The guest bedrooms original pine floors have been sanded down and coated with clear water based polyurethane to keep things rustic, yet bright.

Above image: Original plaster walls are sealed with a clear glaze for a more authentic touch.

Above image: Vintage brass lamp, pewter vase and horse adorn the nightstand.


Above image: The second floor sitting room, inspired by the outdoors, acts as both a library and home office.  Décor include original landscape paintings and a collection of eclectic animal busts.

Above image: Antique prints depicting scenes of the Hudson Valley are framed against the pale mint walls.

Above image: Original claw foot bathtub and raw vintage side tables are paired with crisp linen curtains and towels.

Above image: This bedroom, inspired by French art, has a collection of needlepoint paintings and impressionist prints arranged against the original plaster walls.

Above image: The picturesque front porch is perfect for morning coffee or evening star gazing.


Above image: “The back stoop and barn door lead into the kitchen.”

Above images: The home before the renovation. Images courtesy of Philippe Trinh.

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  • Amazing – the raw walls jaxapose with stately color painted walls strikes the perfect balance.

  • Beautiful! Do you happen to know the name of the color of the exterior paint? I love it.

  • Hi Max – I always enjoy your post and this house is so inspiring. I just connected you and Daniel – I LOVE your new house in Kingston! So many possibilities and the exterior is just so perfect. Between you and me…shhh..maybe you can get Daniel to branch out and do some antique/Edwardian/think John Derian/ – I loved your ticking shower curtain by the way! Really though, I love the way its turning out – kitchen is really good – add something old!!!

  • Looking looking everywhere and don’t see any decadence! Just see an awesome renovation with stunning color, texture, and accessories. The furniture combinations are inspiring! I’m going to have to come to Kingston to check out all of the wonderful sights!

  • I agree this house is inspiring. This home has such a feeling of cool comfort and easiness about it.

  • Hi Max! Very inspiring. I would be very interested to know how they stripped the walls down to the plaster…. Was it just wallpaper on top of the plaster? Or were there layers of paint too? If so, what product if any did they use to leave it so old world looking? And once it was down to the plaster, what glaze did they use? Thank you so much!

  • Miriam, the walls had multiple layers of paint, wallpaper and felt padding. We first scored the walls with a Piranha scoring tool, sprayed Piranha wallpaper stripper to the walls and scraped off the wallpaper in small sections. The secret is to work on a small enough area that remains moist while scraping… For harder areas we sprayed and used a steamer while scraping. Over 100 years and the plaster retained pieces of different paint pigments from all the old paints and glues- we didn’t have to use any paints for the rustic look. We just plastered any holes and then sealed the walls with Valspar clear Interior paint to give it a nice smooth and slick surface instead of it remaining raw & chalky. We have some before photos and photos of our wall stripping on our blog, it was not an easy task for us since there were many layers of wallpapers and many layers of paints:


  • Amazing what they have done with the house in only a few months, almost unbelievable! I love the good old American colonial style with all the vintage pieces, but the walls in the bedrooms and the living room are by far my most favorite feature about this house. The pattern they managed to achieve is eye-cathing! Very authentic rustic look.

  • Well done! I really enjoy how the color selections and placement always incorporated a textural component. Beautifully done!

  • Ok, I love most things about this house. The bare walls however… They make everything look dirty and sad. I’ve never seen it done before though so 10 points for originality!

  • What is the Vaspar color on the living room wall, got to have it! Love the rustic, modern, historic look

  • Ha! I used to live on that block ten years ago. I had an amazing apartment for next to nothing and there was almost no other single 20-somethings around. How things are changing there. What a lovely home they have.

  • This house is really amazing. The balance between rustic and elegance is just right. Sophisticated but very easy and comforting at the same time. It looks like they kept a lot of the original character of the home and gave it just a simple modern spin to it without overdoing it. Not an easy task. Well done!

  • looks great, guys! I am marveling at all you did in such a short time Would you ever put a turret on that tower?

  • This is my hometown. It’s really nice to know to people are starting to take an interest in the absolutely gorgeous old buildings there. Really amazing job on renovation!

  • I have the same coffee table! I fell in love w/it 15 years ago when I lived in San Francisco, and my now husband (then boyfriend) helped me carry it many city blocks back to our apartment. Years, pets, kids and several moves – ultimately back to the Hudson Valley, hey! – have done a number, though…any ideas for how to bring back long faded lustre and replace a broken hinge in the flip top? I know it’s a stretch to ask on this post, but hoping… In any event, great home, really lovely energy in it!