Interiorssneak peeks

170-Year-Old House Becomes Home to a Young Family

by Amy Azzarito

Six years ago when Jill and Aaron Baker decided they were ready to invest in a home, they hunted all over Brooklyn. They were actually in the inspection stage of purchasing a Brooklyn co-op when they stumbled upon this 1840s home within the Palisades Historic District in Rockland County, NY. Realizing they could purchase an entire home (with a driveway and washing machine!), they made the decision to leave the city. As an interior photographer, Jill was able to move her work up north, and Aaron, a former ship captain, now works in the global transportation services business and handles shipping logistics of import/export. Since their move from the city, their family has grown to include a Corgi (as pets were forbidden in their NYC apartments, getting a dog was one of the first things they did after moving) and now a one-year-old little boy. When choosing a decor scheme and furnishings, the couple wanted to respect the home’s 170-year-old history, so they chose objects that matched the time period or were built to last – such as the wide-plank pine floors, clawfoot tubs, farmhouse sink and stunning built-in hutch cabinets. Similarly when purchasing new pieces, they are drawn to objects with clean lines and strong, mid-century influences. –Amy

Photography by Jill Baker Photography

Image above: “This room came together slowly,” Jill says. “We had been using a table we had while living in the city and we did not feel like it worked properly for the house, so we took some time and kept trying to find the perfect table. During a DWR Annex Sale shopping experience we saw the current table in the photo.  Before we bought it, there was another couple investigating it, but they were concerned about a few scratches on it and needed to walk away to think about it.  It was heavily discounted and we knew our son would likely add new ones so we bought it. We love it.”

Image above: “We instantly fell in love with the floors the minute we saw them. We purposely kept this room very minimalist so the floors would be the focal point. The room off of our bedroom was once used as a walk-in closet, but once our son was born we decided it would make the perfect nursery for the first year (or two).”


See more of this Rockland County home after the jump!

Image above: “What is better than cozying up in front of a fireplace? We love the clean lines of the mantel and the large opening of the fireplace. Aaron has sailed since he was boy and we were given this model sailboat as a wedding gift. We recently traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a business trip that we morphed into a stay-a-few-extra-days family trip. The city design and many of the aspects match the style of our house so it was hard to not buy many things. Unfortunately the perfect couch we found would have cost the same to ship it home. We kept our purchases small. Our favorite purchase from that trip was the Kay Bojensen wooden monkey we have hanging from our mantel.”


Image above: “The open flow of the first floor allows for multiple activities depending on the season. In the winter, the only thing better than cozying up in front of a fireplace is curling up in the Eames chair with a good book and a cup of tea! As a silent protest to cable TV commercials and re-run shows, we eliminated the TV from the living room. We couldn’t decide what should fill the void. (It is interesting to watch visitors look for the TV, though).  It took a while to find the right piece to fill the void. However, we learned from a longtime Palisades resident that one of the previous owners of the house was the church piano player and she would practice/play the piano in the house every day.  We decided to buy a vintage piano that fit the style of the house.  Of course, we are still extremely optimistic we will learn to play the piano well someday…”

Image above: “We enjoy the authenticity and practicality of the built-in hutches in this house. We found that great tomato red chair while wandering around Ikea. Naturally we went to Ikea looking for a bookshelf and left with two of these chairs that we didn’t know we needed and no bookshelf. But we love them! The clock was actually a movie prop we bought and had repaired at a local clock shop. They installed a new internal movement and kept the external original.”

Image above: “The chart behind the dinning table is of New York Harbor. It reminds us of the history and importance of this area for global shipping. Since it is an actual nautical chart created for navigation, there is a tremendous amount of practical information. Every time we sit down for dinner we notice something new.”

Image above: “The farmhouse kitchen is easy to cook in. That first dry sink cabinet is actually made from a tree that was felled on our property approximately 20 years ago. What’s even more interesting is that our Miele dishwasher is built inside! When we first looked at the house to buy it, it was never mentioned and we planned on buying a dishwasher. It was like finding the hidden treasure (especially coming from a small NYC apartment where hand washing was the only option).”

Image above: “Here you can see another amazing, built-in cabinet that stores our baking and dry goods. Whenever we open the glass cabinet doors we are reminded of tailor-made craftsmanship.”

Image above: “With the right mood and ingredients, our kitchen is set up to cook essentially any meal. We like to start our meals from scratch and everything in the kitchen has a practical purpose and is easily within reach. Before installing the Viking stove we did not know such high BTUs were available for private home cooking. This stove is another example of how we like to balance functionality, engineering and design with our style.”

Image above: “We love the all-white floors and walls of the third floor. It feels like the perfect little beach cottage up there.”

Image above: “This is currently used as an office but will most likely become our son’s room once we are ready for him to move out of his current nursery. I appreciate having my office on the third floor…the commute is quick and it is a great escape where I can really focus on getting my work done.”

Image above: “The clawfoot tub on the second floor is positioned so that the bather can look out the window at trees in our private backyard. The duck was a fun gift to me from one of Aaron’s first business trips. It is now part of our son’s bath time routine.”

Image above: “This room gets so much light it is amazing. We recently renovated the bathroom and couldn’t be happier. When researching fixtures, we were so fortunate that Water Works had the perfect exposed shower system that matched our vision for the room.”


Image above: “This room is definitely the most colorful of all our rooms. This room is conveniently located right off our bedroom (formerly our walk-in closet). Since our son will only be in here temporarily, we had a lot of fun with wall decals. It was a fun and quick way to make the room his own. The rocking chair is the same one that Aaron was rocked in when he was a baby.”

Image above: “We were looking for something big and fun to put on the wall next to the crib. Neither of us wanted anything too ‘babyish.’ When we saw this decal in Pottery Barn Teen we knew it would be perfect! We both enjoy surfing but started later in life so we are not as good as we would like to be/think we are. We are hoping to get our son out on the water earlier.”

Image above: “That’s my American Girl Doll sitting on the bed from when I was a kid circa 1980’s. The only doll I ever like playing with.”

Image above: “Clawfoot tub #2! This one is a bit on the smaller size, but perfect for kids!”

Image above: “We love the detail and the light of the entryway. It is so inviting. The banister is a piece of art in of itself. The image on the wall is of one of the Maine Island Ferries, which is where Aaron and I met…the rest is history.”

Image above: “We think of our house as a very handsome house. It stands very tall and the blue and white pop against the green grass. The porch is one of our favorite places to sit with either a nice cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night.”

Dining Room:
Table and chairs – Design Within Reach
Candlesticks – bought in Copenhagen
Chair – Ikea
Clock – bought at a used prop sale in NYC

Sitting Room:
Eames chair
Side table – French Sewing Stool from Restoration Hardware
Light: Brazo Floor Lamp

Island – Crate & Barrel
Rug – West Elm

Master Bedroom:
Bed – Room & Board
Side table – Ikea
Red stool – from a small store in Nyack, NY
Blanket – West Elm
Shoes – Vans for J.Crew

Crib – Oeuf Sparrow Crib
Sheets – Giggle
Blanket – handmade by mom
Rocking moose – Ikea
Rug: Serena&Lily Rope Rug
Surf decal – PB Teen
Chalkboard decal – The Land of Nod
Tree decal – The Land of Nod
Rocking chair – same chair Aaron was rocked in as a baby
Dog pillow – C. Wonder
Garland – The Land of Nod
Storage shelf and green bins – Ikea
“1” storage bin – The Land of Nod

Master Bath:
Shower hardware and bench – Waterworks
Pedestal sink – Restoration Hardware
Sink hardware – Waterworks
Bathmat – Anthropologie

Third Floor Bedroom:
Bed – West Elm
Throw – CB2
Storage unit – West Elm

Desk – West Elm
Floor lamp – West Elm
Chair – Gisele Chair from DWR
Pillow – CB2
Rug – Urban Outfitters

Third Floor Bathroom:
Rug – Urban Outfitters

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  • What a beautiful house! I love seeing original architecture preserved while seeing the features in a new light by incorporating mid century mod touches!

  • This one looks a bit sterile to me. You can hardly tell a family lives there. Where are the signs of life?

  • such a beautiful home. you honored the integrity and spirit of your home so beautifully. well done.

  • I love that bathroom shower! Whomever maintained all those built-ins did a great job- at that age they usually have so many layers of paint you can’t close them. Hard to imagine cozy-ing up as a family in that LR, though- rugs, couches, seating for more than one are helpful in making a cozy room.

  • such a thoughtful home. i love the specific decisions made for each piece they brought into the home, rather than just filling space. and the result is so light. and, i love all the amazing lines of the home…everything really stands on its own. i’ve been scrolling through these photos all day….

  • That’s amazing. These people makes something really beautiful and touching. An old house with it’s history is a part of their new life, and is making his own new history.

  • Beautiful, but it would be interesting to see a spontaneous mid-week photo-shoot once your son is a toddler. :)

  • These are the same pictures that the owner/photographer has on her website, so maybe the photos are staged and that explains the lack of decor? Very pretty floors and lovely whitewashed look, but the abundance of hard materials makes it look cold, not cozy. The nursery is the happiest room!

  • I love the white walls and white trim and would love to know what you used for paint – and are the walls and trim the same shade of white? Thank you! Beautiful home!