A Catskills Home Designed with Friends & Family in Mind

We’ve been sharing the work of Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co. since 2010, and they are certainly one of my favorite designing couples. They have a casual, laid-back approach to decorating that emphasizes DIY and found objects so their projects never feel unattainable – in fact, I’m usually bookmarking ideas to try myself (Yes please, lion-head towel holder.). The owners purchased this late 18th century Catskills house to serve as a vacation retreat from their New York City life. They brought Tara and Percy in to design a big, creative retreat for everyone in their lives. To really appreciate the work that the couple did on the home, you have to see some of the before photos – so check out this Before & After.

When Tara and Percy redo a home, they move in and work on the project nonstop. Initially, they felt overwhelmed by the massive amount of furniture and the multicolor paint job in the house. Only when they got the furniture out of the house and primed everything with white, could they really get a sense of the direction of the project. The biggest challenge was doing the kitchen and master bathroom toward the end of the project rather than the beginning. And doing those projects at the same time meant that there was a period where they were doing dishes and showering in the same very tiny tub. They’ve resolved that next time, they’ll get the messy projects out of the way first! But the final result – a space that’s approachable, comfortable and has just a little sense of magic – is one that the family will appreciate for years to come. And Tara and Percy? They’re already on to the next thing. We can’t wait to see what it is. –Amy

Photography by Beth Kirby of Local Milk

If you want to see more from Jersey Ice Cream Co., check out:

Image above: “This is a detail from the front room. We wanted things to feel really rich right when you come in the door, so you walk through the leaf-and-key covered entryway into this room,” says Tara. “I love the different patterns in the rug and couch and how surprisingly well they work together. We knew we wanted to do some gallery style walls, so we had our eye out for great artwork all throughout the job. The woman in the portrait had kind of a scary face, so we covered it up with old love letters. That’s an old trick from my low-budget designing days. “

Image above: “This is a shot of the kitchen as you would see it if you walked into the room. I love that this kitchen looks good no matter what. We added that shelf with nails unexpectedly, and it makes things look beautifully cluttered at all times. You can throw any pot or pan up there and it just works. Effortless design is great in any space, but in a kitchen, it’s a dream. “


See more of this transformed vacation home after the jump!

Image above: “If you walked into the kitchen and took a right, this is what you would see. Things came together so organically in the kitchen. The table was initially a placeholder, but we loved it so much we kept it. Same with that little table to the left. When we’re furnishing a house we buy SO many things. It was really wonderful to find that by the end almost everything had found a place.”

Image above: “This is a detail shot of the kitchen shelves. The lower sideboard was one of the very few pieces of furniture that survived the early clean-out of the house. Despite the horrors of the original kitchen, you could tell that was a keeper. I knew I wanted to do shelves with white dishes and bowls and things, so was on the hunt while we were working on the house. So many of the dishes up there I got for less than a dollar.”

Image above: “Another shot of the kitchen, this time looking out the front window. Those built-in shelves were a great detail from the original kitchen that we were happy to keep.”

Image above: “A detail shot of the kitchen. Wood walls, and a spare chair in case the dinner party grows.”

Image above: “A detail shot of the kitchen. The countertop in this picture is actually the top of a long table. The table was one of those ‘We need this, it’s so cheap and great but we have nowhere to put it’ buys. It was a great moment when we found out that we actually had the perfect somewhere to put it.”

Image above: “A detail shot of the kitchen. I love that little nook back there, and my glass-filled shelf, especially. As with so many things in the kitchen, no matter how you pile the glasses in there, they look perfectly styled, and you never come up empty when you reach for a water glass.”

Image above: “A detail shot of the kitchen. That split in the floor has a story of its own. We were planning on laying down all new reclaimed floors in the kitchen, but once we ripped up the linoleum we found these gray floors hiding underneath. They didn’t continue fully to either side, and we had enough wood to do the whole room, so we hemmed and hawed for a bit on what to do. In the end, we couldn’t bear with just them covering up, so the floor has a big blue/gray patch in the middle and natural wood on both ends. It was a lot of extra work at the time, but I’m glad we did it.”

Image above: “This is a shot of the front room looking out onto the back porch. Those double doors are a dream. The first day it was warm enough to open them was reason for celebration!”

Image above: “This is a corner of the downstairs living room, peeking out onto the porch. Wes Anderson was a guiding inspiration throughout the project, though I don’t think we have our curating skills quite up to par with his. Still, this little painting seemed like something a character in his movie would paint, so we had to snatch him up. Look at those crossed legs! His little dog! It’s the best.”

Image above: “This is a shot of the living room. During the summer the back porch is the place to hang out, but now that the temperatures are dropping this moody living room is gaining some serious appeal. When the wind starts howling around here, the only place to be is huddled around that fireplace.”

Image above: “This is the breakfast nook, which is just off the front room. That little window looks out onto the front yard. The light in this little spot is always nice and it’s the perfect place to have some tea or write some emails. In fact, I’m sitting in this very spot as I write this! The ceilings date back to the original owners of the house. We briefly thought about painting them, but thank god we didn’t! They bring an instant sense of warmth and history to the rooms.”

Image above: “Another shot of the breakfast nook. The two-toned plaster walls run throughout the entire room and are so beautiful. Percy’s plasterwork is so crucial to us at this point. It creates a unifying look in all that we do, and can make even a simple room gorgeous.”

Image above: “Detail shot of the breakfast nook. I love this simple table setting. A mix of vintage finds and Crate & Barrel.”

Image above: “This is the front guest bedroom. I love so many things about this space. The headboard, which Percy made from reclaimed wood, the brass lamp, which we got for $10 at Brimfield, the dark linen sheets, and of course, the wallpaper! It’s supposed to represent temptation, but it looks like dancing Roman angels to me. It’s a pretty intense pattern, but really makes the room something special. I also love the sheet combination in here. If we get a house of our own I’m pulling for indigo linen sheets like this.”

Image above: “Another corner of the front guest bedroom. We got those vintage French folding chairs up at Brimfield this past summer for a steal, and scattered them throughout the house. The wooden coat rack was another vintage find. I love the ease of hooks, and try to put them everywhere I possibly can.”

Image above: “Ah, the downstairs powder room! With just a glimpse of the entryway in the mirror’s reflection. This was such an exciting change. Originally this bathroom was white and purple with boring flat walls and was basically the worst. I love that it could have been a throwaway room, but instead feels so rich and special. The brass against the deep blue is perfection.”

Image above: “This is the back guest bedroom, which at some point I started calling the girls’ room, even though said girls do not yet exist. The bed frames in here were a great Brimfield find. I love that they are iron frames but almost read like wood.”

Image above: “Another shot of the girls’ room. The light in this room is always beautiful, but the wallpaper simply makes the space! You can’t wake up in that room without feeling a little extra bounce in your step.”

Image above: “Girls’ room detail shot. These rooms are pretty tiny, made even smaller by their sloping ceilings, but we wanted there to still be places to throw a sweater, tuck in some clothes, feel at home. This children’s coat rack ended up being just the right height for this tiny nook!”

Image above: “This is a little bed nook that we built into the hallway. Originally it was just a big empty space with a weird table in it, but we knew instantly it was calling for a built-in bed like this. It’s so perfect to be perched up there looking out the window down at the back pond. I can’t say I’ve had much time to spend there during our renovation, but it seems like a spot that will get lots of action once snow-watching season is back.”

Image above: “There is an extra room upstairs – it’s almost a railroad room between the hallway and master bathroom – that we turned into a second living room/den area. It’s always a drag to have to incorporate a television into the layout of a room, so we designed this to be a place where you could project movies on the plaster and cuddle up. I love so many things on that wood wall. We’ve been holding onto that little blue shield for years, just waiting for the right spot for it. The old rope was something we saw down in Nashville before we even started the project. The little tag says that it was found in the cockpit of a commercial airline and was used in the case of an emergency exit! We didn’t buy it at the time, but couldn’t stop thinking about it! My friend Jeremy (shout out!) lives down there, so he hunted it down for us later and sent it our way.”

Image above: “This is the master bedroom. Talk about a complete change. This space was so nuts when we first got to the house – red and yellow walls, light blue ceilings, ornate detailing, black-and-white duvet cover to match the black-and-white drapes. The whole house was a bit of an eyesore, but this room was insanity. The whole room now just begs you to sleep in late. I love the simplicity of it. Barn wood, plaster and linen will always be a perfect combination in my mind.”

Image above: “This is a detail shot of the master bed. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s anything I don’t love about this photo, but the way the headboard seamlessly blends into the wall might be one of my favorite details. There wasn’t enough room for side tables on both sides of the bed, so that little shelf not only looks great, but really comes in handy. Functional beauty – the very best kind.”

Image above: “Another detail of the master bedroom. The old owners left behind some strange things, but they also left a ton of amazing books. Almost all of these we found in the house or guest house. It’s great to fill shelves with books, but it’s so much better when they’re also old and beautiful. And free!”

Image above: “Here is another detail shot of the master bedroom, and especially, of that mantel! The old mantel was a cheap thing painted glossy red, so it absolutely had to go. We found this one at Brimfield and were instantly in love. The off-white patches are zodiac symbols carved into the wood. Incredible.”

Image above: “This is a shot of the master bathroom, just right off the master bedroom. The only thing in this room we didn’t change was the toilet and the lighter part of the floors. The whole room needed to be switched around and redone. At this point, I just love that we’re finished. But the sink was a mega score that our friend’s mom saw and bought for us. It helps when you’ve got a team of people scouring flea markets for you!”

Image above: “Detail shot of the sink in the master bathroom. Don’t you just love those towel holders? Us, too.”

Image above: “Detail shot of the master bathroom. We really struggled trying to find great tile that wouldn’t break the budget. These marble hex tiles turned out to be perfect. I love how they catch the light.”

Image above: “Detail shot of the shower. Built-in shower shelves are a serious must.”

Image above: “Detail shot of the master bath. This little guy is more roomy than he looks! We were struggling with how to get a tub up into the bath when we saw this. It’s a bit on the wild side, but it works, looks great, and saved us from breaking both of our backs.”

Image above: “This is a shot of the mudroom, which is off the back of the kitchen. This room was pretty great to begin with except that it was painted four different colors. A bit of gray paint can go a long way. I love any room that has excessive hooks.”

Image above: “Detail shot of the mudroom. We can’t take credit for the great sink and built-in, which were both already there (but painted yellow), but the wood walls take a little space and make it feel special. For the record, that’s just a BB gun hanging! I love that we bought those vintage targets and actually made frames for them, instead of sticking them in a book and forgetting about them like we usually do.”

Image above: “The porch! I have migrated out here since being in the breakfast nook earlier. When the weather is warm, nothing can top being out here. Except maybe being over by the pool. I had some reservations about the color when I started, but it ended up being perfect for the space. It still feels bright during the day, and at night, when the lights are twinkling, it feels like a magical world attached to the house.”

Image above: “Detail shot of the porch. The old owners left some chairs and things out here that we happily made use of. Another case of things coming together. We bought that rug and weren’t sure where to put it. When we were putting things into place out here and suddenly the center of the room seemed bare, the rug came to the rescue.”

Image above: “The house! Tucked away down a long driveway.”

  1. Robin says:

    A very smart approach to explain the things, Ilike your step by step tutorial.

  2. Aniqa says:

    Really enjoyed going through these photos. Very inspiring x

  3. morgan says:

    totally amazing – I just recently became a F A N of their work and every time I see it my eyes fall out. so gorgeous!

  4. Jo says:

    Where did you get your hex tile in the bathroom? I love it!

  5. The rustic looking wood on the floors and walls in the kitchen, the blue bathtub and the wallpapers add an element to this space that makes it seem effortless. It’s rich, rustic, homey and feels organic.

  6. sara says:

    Echoing Jo’s question, would love the hex tile source. Thanks!

  7. Just spent the weekend in this house and it is even more fabulous then it looks here if that is possible. Percy and Tara are fabulous!
    x Raina

  8. Susan says:

    I love the textural beauty of this house, how these designers are willing to let the house speak for itself, with all of it’s materials- what it is made of. It shows so much heart and makes the space feel alive and full of good old stories.

    Gorgeous photography too! : )

  9. Percy says:

    Aw thanks so much, Raina! It was a pleasure. We always feel that way about the spaces we design, and wish more people could see them in person.

    @Jo and Sara, don’t tell anyone but that hex tile is just from Depot! $10/ft I believe.

  10. Jamie VB says:

    Love everything! I’m curious about your shower — we’re about to build a similar corner shower and have been waffling about whether to fully enclose it. Are you happy you went with a curtain? Any issues?

  11. Allie says:

    Unreal. As cozy and welcoming as it is sophisticated. Might be my favorite sneak peek yet.

  12. Jane Rosen says:

    WWhat is the source of the wallpaper in the “girls” room? Its lovely

  13. mrswoo says:

    I would love to know the details for the wallpaper in the girl’s room

  14. This is as close as dammit that I have seen to an authentic country house with vintage and time appropriate decor. Well done – it is so moody as well.

  15. I could stare at that wallpaper all day! The whole house is stunning!

  16. lauran says:

    Was the copper sheet behind the stove new or a antique find? It looks incredible. Would love to hear the story. This house is magical.

  17. Carly Glass says:

    WOW!!! Talk about inspirational, absolutely incredible. I’ve been a long time follower of d*s and this is my favorite space, hands down… of course my second favorite is their Philly row house. Pretty sure I’m going to “borrow” their peg/coat rack idea going diagonally up the staircase… great idea! :)

  18. Heather says:

    The wallpaper is Apothecary’s Garden (a CFA Voysey design) from Trustworth Studios. I just saw it on Pinterest last week. http://trustworth.com/wallpaper

  19. Brandi says:

    This house is beautiful. Such attention to detail. The wood everywhere is my favorite. So cozy. Picturesque location.

  20. Suzy says:

    Words cannot express the love I feel for this home. So lovely! Thank you for sharing, you guys have amazing taste!

  21. Isabelle says:

    The whole house is wonderful but that porch is to die for.

  22. Alex says:

    This is one of the best home tour posts I’ve seen in so long, a perfect balance of wide, scene-setting shots, and detail shots. Beautiful home to boot. Thank you!

  23. Addie says:

    I’m a pretty fussy old sod but this place is absolutely stunning! I would love nothing more than to lie down in the nook with a book and listen to the rain patter down on the leaves outside, heaven!

  24. Julia says:

    I loved this house, and the descriptions of each room are really interesting and well explained!!!! We can see that the thought about every detail was carefully done!!!! It would be stunning if it has the “laser cut rabbit expresso” throw by koket or “mink café” throw also by koket…

  25. Elisabeth says:

    Love this article, thank you! Adored your combination of colours! Found interesting design project, have a look! Hope you will find there inspiration too! Have a good day :)

  26. AnnMarie says:

    Gorgeous! I love the vibe of this place, the dark colors and wood make it feel so homey and cozy! I’m so glad you didn’t paint the ceilings, they make the space. I’m in love with so many moments in this house — the copper backsplash in the kitchen, the bed nook, the breakfast nook, that amazing brass lamp, the sink in the master bath, and that leather couch in the living room! Be still my heart.

  27. HC says:

    Really refreshing to see a home tour with no fluff. Loving all the pictures, really goes to show the entire project was thought out with every detail in mind. The color palette throughout is beyond romantic. The kitchen makes me actually want to cook for the first time ever, and the rest of it- just waiting for fall leaves and the perfect novel.

    Beautiful beautiful work and content!

  28. Rita Marie says:

    Come decorate my little condo! I would love everything you do; I am sure.

  29. Tara & Percy says:

    You are all are the best. Thank you so much for the love and all your sweet comments. We’re feeling inspired and lucky and ready to tackle the next project. Stay tuned! xox

  30. Anastasia says:

    Dream house! Beautiful design!

  31. Beautiful design . I get alot of ideal from it. thanks

  32. Babette says:

    Would love to know what paint you used on kitchen cupboards! Thanks in advance.

  33. Rebecca Apple says:

    The shower tile…it’s perfect. Anyone know the source?

  34. Vivian says:

    Every inch of this home is cosy and inviting! Inspire me to bring that feeling to my home. Thank You.

  35. John says:

    Beautifully done. I really like the bathroom blue! What color did you use for it?

  36. Julian Hazlett says:

    Beautiful home. Original. Great ideas.

  37. Caroline says:


  38. Soapstone says:

    I was totally thinking that this house is gorgeous, but also feels haunted, the atmosphere even in the photos is heavy..and then I got to the “girls room”. Shivers

  39. Very Catskills. So nice.

  40. Megan says:

    GoodNESS, what is the name of the green-blue color you used on the porch? We’re looking to change the buttery-yellow exterior of our house to something bolder, and that color is calling my name. What a wonderful tour…very cozy, simple, and intentional.

  41. patricia says:

    What an amazing space this is. You have managed to keep it simple and yet elegant, and timeless. So many beautiful details, just stunning really. I really enjoyed this home and have pinned almost every image. One of the things that caught my eye, because it’s something I can maybe do here in my own home, its the patio light bulbs on the ceiling of the porch. What a great yet impactful idea! How does it work though? What kind of electrical plug does it require or how is it fed from the wall? Thanks.

  42. Becky says:

    I swoon EVERY TIME I visit this post. Seriously. Trying to work some of your magic into my house – a little 1930s bungalow. Can you share tips on how you built the floating shelves in the kitchen? My attempts to date have not been so successful. Thanks!

  43. i really like this,, its was amazing and wonderful

  44. Rachel Coloff says:

    I love this house! And especially that dark blue powder room. I would love to know what color and paint brand. Thank you so much!

  45. I just simply love your home.
    Could you tell me if the lovely vintage sofa is covered in a vintage or recent fabric. I would really appreciate the name of the floral design.
    many , many thanks
    I recently re launched my on line faded floral business ( it was too much when all the kids were small ! ) and I m crazy on floral fabrics,
    It s www. fadedfloralcompany.com if you re into that kind of fresh take on vintage!


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