Touring Musicians Build a Beautiful Home Base in Kingston

Bishop Allen Home Tour on Design*Sponge
Whenever we have the chance to combine two of my favorite things, music and design, I get incredibly excited. For the past year, Max has been telling us about his friends and fellow Kingston, NY locals, Darbie Nowatka and Justin Rice. They’re both members of the band Bishop Allen, whose albums have been on heavy rotation in my home ever since Max first mentioned them to us. The same upbeat, melodic energy that fills their songs is also present in the beautiful Kingston home Darbie and Justin share with their pets: Steve and Julian (cats), Little Admiral (aka Budge, the bird), and their hamster, Xiao Xiao. When they’re not touring, Justin is a writer and Darbie works as a graphic designer and makes jewelry and other goods for her shop, Field Guide Design. Their creative energy spills over into every corner of their home, a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1890, where collections of vintage objects are artfully displayed next to artwork made by friends and a wide range of found and thrifted goods. Darbie and Justin’s limited budget for decorating ended up being something they loved and embraced. Darbie explained, “Having to make something out of nothing is actually kind of liberating. You’re not buying investment pieces, so you don’t have to overthink your choices. It’s just like – use what you’ve got and have fun with it.” That can-do creative attitude is evident throughout their home and is exactly what makes us love it so much. Thanks to Darbie and Justin for sharing their home with us. xo, grace

Photographs by Maxwell Tielman

Bishop Allen Home Tour on Design*Sponge
Images above: Darbie and Justin found the piano and organ in their foyer for free on Craigslist. Every year they throw a big New Year’s Eve party and at midnight they gather around the piano and sing Auld Lang Syne together with their friends. The organ and piano tops also serve as display space for a rotating selection of books and various treasures. Almost all of the artwork in this space is by people they know and love, including: Derek Erdman, Cristina Spiridakis, Julia Ziegler-Haynes, Will Lytle of Thorneater Comics, Mark Hogancamp, Daniel Johnston, and Darbie’s dad.

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Image above: Darbie and Justin love to lounge with their friends and listen to records in their living room. The rocking chairs were from Justin’s great grandmother’s porch in Arkansas.

Bishop Allen Home Tour on Design*Sponge

Click through for the full home (and studio!) tour after the jump!

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Image above: The view from the living room into the dining room. Darbie and Justin always have a big stack of floor cushions around for impromptu gatherings and fireside hang sessions.

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Image above: Darbie loves vintage lighting and explained, “I’m a sucker for a vintage fiberglass lampshade. Our house is full of them. I think they give off the warmest light!”

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Image above: Darbie picked up this Matisse-inspired vintage needlepoint cushion at a junk shop upstate. It’s perfect for kneeling down to change records and tend to the fireplace nearby.

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Image above: Darbie had always wanted an over-the-door bookcase, so they had a local carpenter build one to accommodate the couple’s ever-growing record and book collection.

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Image above: Darbie and Justin found their dining room farm table at a yard sale and the mismatched chairs and chandelier are from her parents’ basement. The embroidered tribal kilim rug was a great Craigslist score.

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Image above: Darbie considers herself a “true maximalist” and likes to lean art against the wall when she runs out of good places to hang it. The sideboard in this picture was originally a “big, shiny, dark brown mess with the world’s most unfortunate hardware,” until Darbie made it over with new paint and hardware.

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Image above: Darbie loves to decorate with pinecones, feathers, seashells, and anything else from the forest or ocean floor. She adds, “Placing things under glass always makes them look and feel extra special.”

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Images above: Justin and Darbie decided to decorate this guest room (which doubles as Justin’s study) with an “explorer’s club” vibe. Dark wood, vintage maps, old trunks and a Boy Scout ephemera gathered from thrift stores complete the feel.

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Images above: The guest room’s headboard, Hudson’s Bay blanket, alpaca throw, alpaca pillow, and the vintage pillowcases are all yard sale finds. The vintage Penguin paperbacks inside the guest room bookcase are from an estate sale in New Jersey.

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Images above: Darbie and Justin’s bedroom is decorated with a handwoven wall hanging and embroidered pillow they brought back from a trip to Mexico. Justin has a small collection of rocks by his side of the bed, inspired by Darbie’s love of rocks and crystals. “I’m always dragging Justin to gem and mineral shops,” she explained.

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Images above: In Darbie’s studio, she has two big cork boards that are painted white and hold a huge collection of inspiring bits of ephemera. Crystals and darts are just some of the objects that Darbie likes to collect and display on her desk.

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Image above: Darbie’s studio shelves are made from reclaimed barnwood and hold paper garland prototypes, next to old Bishop Allen poster and T-shirt designs on the wall.

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Image above: Darbie loves that her studio desk looks out over their street, because it’s lined with beautiful Victorian homes.

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Image above: Darbie gathered these “bits and baubles” when she was working on designs for her packaging.

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Image above: Justin and Darbie transformed their attic into a studio where they can work on their music. One of the first things they did when they moved in was install shelves across a full wall to hold treasured books and tchotchkes. An old army cot serves as a magazine table where the couple likes to display, “a mix of current and vintage publications to keep our guests amused.”

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Image above: Darbie does her packing, shipping and screen printing in this corner of the attic. The vintage Milton Glaser Catskills poster was a gift from the couple’s friends, Janet and Eddie, who run a gallery in Kingston. Darbie loves the poster so much because the cat looks just like their little guy, Julian!

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Image above: This nook in the attic is filled with music gear like headphones, preamps and the couple’s drum set. Darbie decorated with string lights because she thinks, “they make everything a little bit more magical.”

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Image above: Justin’s desk and recording setup is in the back of the attic. It’s where Darbie and Justin tracked and mixed Bishop Allen’s latest album, Lights Out. The yellow pendant lamp was a garage sale find that Darbie had hanging in the kitchen of her college apartment in Providence, RI. It came with her down to Brooklyn and all the way back up to Kingston, NY. She explained, “I’ll probably still have it when I’m 90.”

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Image above: The next door neighbors recently got chickens that decided they prefer Justin and Darbie’s yard to their own. They waddle down first thing in the morning and don’t go back home until sunset.

  1. Alyssa says:

    Bishop Allen is one of my absolute favorite bands, and it makes me so happy to see that Darbie and Justin’s home is just as charming and wonderful as their music! This is definitely one of my favorite home tours :)

  2. Joanne says:

    Hi Grace, thanks, appreciate the reply and info. I didn’t notice the NY before, sorry! I googled Kingston NYC and Brooklyn and didn’t think to try it just as the state doh! The homes are always so beautiful I love to get an idea of the location to, satisfy my own nosiness! Thanks again.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Joanne

      No worries! I’ll try to make sure I’m super clear about state/city names :)

      Grace

  3. Malin says:

    Thank you for sharing your home! I heart the colors so thanks so much for the info! I got so inspired looking at this home I came up with an idea for making my white rental more colorful and special to me; painting the 1 foot wide trim in the doorways (I will paint it back white of course) The colors are going to be those mentioned. Love!

  4. Jasper says:

    This is SO inspiring to me as our home is very similar, down to the type of floor trim, the three panel bay windows in the living and dining area, even the leaning chimney in the attic! Although we took that down a few years ago as it was crumbling apart. What a fantastic way to do this house up!

  5. lady millville says:

    Do you have the front hall paint color? In these photos, it looks like it has a lovely pink tone. Thanks!

  6. Elizabeth Williams says:

    Sorry to pile on with the questions, but who painted the art in the front entryway of the moustachioed man with a gun>

  7. Jessica says:

    Love the creative touches, the color of the walls in the dining area are gorgeous and those stained glass windows are so pretty!

  8. Nicola says:

    Those windows are amazing! And the wood. And the bookshelves. And…and… I love it!

  9. Oh, I love this. I love the color in the home. My favorite is the picture of the attic–enchanting! The living room is full of color. You see a lot of homes without color on the walls, but this one incorporates color beautifully. Nicely done.

  10. very interesting places. Inspiring!
    thank you.

  11. Sally says:

    I absolutely adore this home. I am a big fan of maximalism, a word that I have only just learnt, especially maximalism that looks like a home and not a museum. I can imagine actually hanging out in these spaces. The built in over the door or window bookcases are wonderful.

  12. Amy Albert says:

    I LOVE your house. I live nearby and always wonders what the inside of some of these grand houses in Kingston looked like. Your house is GREAT.. I love it because it’s so real, totally unpretentious.
    Fantastic. Thank you for showing it to us.

  13. I love this house, theres so much exciting things going on, looks like you’d have to walk around 5 times to take it all in. I particularly like the wall shelves in the loft room, and the wooden lamp stand (i have been looking for a lamp stand to complement my nature inspired lampshade designs, the stand looks like antlers and would suit the deer design perfectly.) All the art on the walls reminds me of my student bedroom, love it!

  14. Audrey says:

    Justin’s great grandmother’s rocking chairs are gorgeous (as is the rest of the home!)

    So here’s a question from someone who loves the look of those chairs, but doesn’t know the design heritage: what ‘kind’ or style of chairs are they examples of? I have always been so attracted to that style furniture. Is it Craftsman? Mission? Is there another ‘style’ of furniture they could be categorized as while I hunt for my own similar rocking chairs?

    Desk in Justin’s study, too: I just love that piece but don’t know what the style is called or how it would be categorized. Thank you homeowners and D*S for sharing this!

  15. Tess says:

    I love the blue walls in the guest bedroom. Do you remember what brand/color it was?

  16. Jamey Rowland says:

    Very, very beautiful,whimsical, and artistic happy house.
    Aunt Jamey.

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