Interiorssneak peeks

Second Empire Style in the Hudson Valley

by Grace Bonney

Everyone’s idea of a dream house is different. For some, it’s a penthouse apartment in a big city. For others, it’s a rolling country estate with wraparound porches and room to spread out. For me, it’s Hayes Clement’s home. Nine years ago Hayes left his job in magazine publishing, and an apartment in New York City, to buy this beautiful Second Empire-style home. Originally built in 1879 and designed by Calvert Vaux (who designed Olana in Hudson, NY and co-designed Central Park in New York City), Hayes’ home was originally intended as a weekend home. He’d been hunting for a country house in the more rural areas of the Hudson Valley when he stumbled upon this house in more “urban” Kingston while house-hunting with friends. Immediately drawn to the home’s stunning views of the Hudson River, Hayes’ friends decided that one of them needed to nab it and Hayes was the lucky buyer. After a few years Hayes decided to move to Kingston full-time, where he now works as a real estate agent. I can only imagine how many stunning homes Hayes must see on a regular basis working in the Hudson Valley, but I’m sure it’s safe to say that he owns one of the best the area has to offer. He’s created a home that feels modern and true to his personal style, but also true to the home’s original architecture. My goal is now to find a way to get invited to a dinner on Hayes’ beautiful porch – it’s the sort of setting that dream homes are made of. Thank you so much to Hayes, and his Jack Russell terrier, Susie, for welcoming us into their home. xo, grace

All photographs by Maxwell Tielman

Images above: The top image above is Hayes’ living room. People always ask Hayes if the gentleman hunter in the painting is a relative. Hayes says, “Sadly he’s not. I wish I had inherited that hairline.” The second photo above is Hayes’ collection of antique oval mirrors. He likes to hang disparate objects alongside each other because, “it helps me rationalize random and offbeat purchases.” The final image above is the living room, with a Mitchell Gold sofa Hayes bought at a tent sale for $200. The plaster arm behind the sofa was one of hundreds of sculpture models that used to be part of a frieze in the Metropolitan Museum that was dismantled and sold off years ago.


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Click through for the full home tour after the jump!

Image above: An old lantern Hayes bought from dealer and friend Marianne Stikas.

Image above: Early botanical prints by Carl Blossfeldt that Hayes found in New Orleans.

Image above: The living room was originally two rooms, a front and back parlor, each with its own fireplace. They were combined into one space many years ago. To fill the long wall between the two fireplaces, Hayes’ friend Terry Hirst, a cabinet maker in NYC, built a simple, one-shelf console that fits perfectly and holds lots of books and objects.

Image above: Vince Mulford in Hudson is one of Hayes’ all-time favorite antiques dealers. He was the source for both this old tabletop template, salvaged from a New England marble yard, and the battered mechanic’s tool board. Hayes explained, “I love ‘art’ that actually started life as a workday tool. Dirt still fills each groove of the tabletop template’.”

Image above: Arm chairs by designer Jacques Grange are upholstered in a rich velvet fabric.

Image above: Of his sizable collection of antique tools and mechanical devices, Hayes says, “I’m a sucker for old levels, anvils, calipers and injection molds for toys.”

Image above: This photo of Roman ruins is part of a Grand Tour series from the 1800s.

Image above: This daybed was cast off by a famous actress when she redid her apartment. It now serves as a bed for Hayes’ dog, Susie. She likes the view (better for watching people go by) and Hayes loves to come home and find her waiting on it by the window.

Image above: “The view is what sold me on this house and Kingston,” Hayes says. “I spend most of the summer on the porch and usually wait until deep into November to pack away the porch furniture for winter.”

Image above: Hayes used a pair of coach lamps from his grandparents’ house in Roxboro, North Carolina to light the stairwell.

Image above: Hayes found these calipers at a barn auction in Dutchess County. The bust is by a Russian artist from the 1950s and the lamps came from another of his favorite local dealers, Ron Sharkey of Accord.

Images above: Sometime in the early 1900s, the lower level of the house was updated with Eastlake pattern doorknobs and hardware (that were all the rage at the time). But upstairs, the very simple farmhouse hardware was left in place. Though the mix of style initially bothered Hayes, he’s grown to appreciate it.

Image above: Hayes’ bed is an old Crate & Barrel model that he’s carried through several apartments in NYC and now here. Hayes can see the Hudson River from his bed, which he says makes it hard to leave on many mornings.

Image above: Hayes displays a wide range of cherished antiques: a vintage police target he found in Los Angeles, a sketch by the artist Gillian Jagger, injection molds, his grandfather’s tie-clip box, and another pair of lamps from Ron Sharkey, made from old chair legs.

Image above: The upstairs of Hayes’ home had a mix of different hardwood floors that clashed with each other, so he carpeted the entire space in comfortable wool sisal that unifies the space and brings it together.

Image above: A view from the hallway into the home office and bathroom that was created by converting an upstairs bedroom.

Image above: Hayes prefers to entertain and eat on his porch (see below) as often as possible, but when it’s too cold to eat outdoors, he can accommodate as many as 12 people at his dining table (which he does every year on Christmas Eve).

Image above: Hayes’ decision to display his porcelain collection en masse gives it a stronger visual impact than if they were spaced further apart.

Image above: Hayes made this lamp himself using a submersible device made by an upstate NY engineering firm in the early 1900s. When he purchased it, it came inside a scuba tank that he turned into a another lamp.

Image above: A sunny windowsill is a great spot to show off a treasured object, like this cobbler’s form.

Image above: The story behind Hayes’ rather roomy shower is a funny one. While living part-time in New York City and part-time in Kingston, Hayes commenced with a bathroom renovation. But after missing a few weekend visits to check up on the contractor, he arrived home to find the bathroom five times larger than planned. In exchange for not starting over, the contractor agreed to cover the costs of the extra materials. Now Hayes has a shower that he says, “You can wash an SUV in.”

Image above: Hayes has created an indoor/outdoor living space on his porch, complete with a dining table that houses many a meal, well into the late fall and early winter.

Image above: Hayes flies the American flag every day, weather permitting. He explained, “Arriving home to it, even after the worst day, reminds me how fortunate I am to call the U.S. my home.”

Image above: Our entire Design*Sponge team is in love with the decorative brick patterning on the arches above Hayes’ front windows. The striped detailing around the exterior gives it just enough character to feel special without distracting from the clean lines of the home. While the interior of the home is all from a single gray card in the Benjamin Moore color wheel (so smart!), Hayes worked with painter Derrick McNab, who convinced him to scrape the home’s original white paint exterior down to the original color scheme from the 19th century, which was a combination of olive, black and maroon. Not long after, Hayes discovered the house had been designed by British-American architect Calvert Vaux, who married into a Kingston family and lived there for several years. That tie to history makes Hayes even more grateful that he and Derrick chose to resurrect the original color plan.

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  • Wow, this is one of the best sneak peeks ever! I love your grand tour photos and the Karl Blossfeldt prints – what amazing finds. And the calipers are unexpected and fantastic!

  • Furniture, art, accessories, color palette are all perfect.Love all the busts! What a warm and beautiful home. May I ask if you have a source for the brass floor lamp in the combined parlors? It is exactly what I’m looking for – thanks.

  • I love how you’ve been covering all these great Hudson Valley places. Makes me even happier to live here!

  • Gorgeous but very formal. I too would live on that porch! I like the antique chairs around the glass table – unexpected but it works.

  • Really love this. Such a personal, well-thought out space space without a drop of trend…THIS is style. Especially intrigued at how he is able to combine different styles of art and make it all work together and look cohesive. So well done!

  • Such a lovely, stately, formal but not uptight home.

    I’m intrigued by the statement that all the colors are off one Benjamin Moore strip. In ideal light, my living room color looks like his, but in not-ideal (most of the time) light, it’s a very ugly putty color.

  • Love the mix of styles and inspiring details. The porch is perfect. I would spend all my time out there. Ha! I too have a great historic painting of a man (George) over my fireplace…who isn’t actually a relative.

  • So nice to see a more interesting take on design! It’s sophisticated, comfortable and not too precious. A great mix of vintage and new. Thanks for this article…..

  • Very reminicent of another second empire home with great views in Kingston…beautiful

  • In the spirit of positivity just want to take a second to point out that the flag looks great! Important to remember to recognize when things go “right” not just when they go “wrong”! :-)

  • …and here I sit,on a Tuesday afternoon,looking at my dream house,in my dream location,with my dream decor!!! By an odd twist of fate,I have come to discover the Hudson River Valley,and it’s spectacular houses. I too, have been looking for a small weekend place,with dreams of one day getting out of the fast lane,and living life in the country. I am saving this article to re-read and look at on a rainy day. Thanks for sharing this beautiful home,and may Hayes and his loved ones enjoy it for many many years to come…

  • Love seeing the HV homes also! Maybe one in Newburgh next time? Architecture there is amazing!

  • Wow, what a classic, gorgeous house.

    Are there any pictures of the kitchen lurking somewhere? This whole space is so stunning, I want to see more!

  • I am not sure I can add anything new to the above comments, but I guess I will repeat their sentiments anyway…

    For me too, this is one of the best sneak peeks I have seen – classic and tasteful while still being welcoming and uniquely full of character. So many things to look at and love, the well curated home is obviously the result of thought, time and resources. Well done Hayes.

  • I like the house but I find the decor a bit stuffy and overly formal…I think I would sneak around on tiptoe feeling that I wasn’t meant to be here…I couldn’t relax. I do love the porch though…i’d just stay out there.

  • Suddenly I have a desire to find antique calipers…! And fancy chair legs to convert into lamps!

    Really lovely home.

  • This is probably one of my favorite sneak peeks ever! Such a creative display of objects you would never think to use as art (the calipers) and the indoor/outdoor porch is to die for.

  • What an amazing house, Hayes has the an unbelievable eye for detail – admiration from Kingston but from over the pond !

  • The house tells a story. What a mix of history and contemporary design. The artwork collection is a mix of rough workman’s tools and aristocratic sculptures and paintings. Love it.

  • Great architecture, great decorating, great photography. Pure Hudson River Valley.

  • I am so inspired and delighted. I wish I could call the Hudson home. Been there once, stayed in Kingston. A very memorable trip. Thank you for sharing Hayes.

  • I would kill to know exactly what “Grey” Card by Benjamin moore was used. It’s that beautiful.

  • Absolutely beautiful, elegant, warm and inviting. Once you enter you do not want to leave.

  • I’m dying to know where the drum pendant light fixture over the dining room is from! Beautiful. Just bought a historic home and love the mix of old/new.