“I wish you could have seen the house a few years ago,” woodworker Kieran Kinsella tells me when I arrive to take pictures of his Rosendale, NY home, “back when everything was all fresh!” His feelings are ones that many have after living in a space for a long period of time, after the luster of newly-acquired furniture and fresh paint starts to wear off. I understand his sentiments — nobody knows better than I the insecurities homeowners encounter when welcoming guests for the first time — but I’m not sure that I share them. Looking around this light-filled hilltop farmhouse, it’s hard to imagine it looking any better than it does now. Sure, there are a few scuffs here and there; a few squeaking floorboards. But these are the sorts of timeworn patina that only come after a home has been truly lived in, something that in itself has incomparable beauty.
Kieran came to this 1900 home 17 years ago, when he and his wife Giselle Potter, a noted children’s book illustrator, vacated Brooklyn for greener (and decidedly more spacious) pastures. They fell in love with the surrounding area, the property’s expansive acreage, and the giant apple trees that filled its grounds. With an old chicken coop that would make for a fantastic at-home studio, it seemed the perfect package.
When the couple arrived, they had very few belongings — just some curbside finds and an old clawfoot tub that they managed to cart all the way with them from Brooklyn. “It was very sparse and Shaker-like,” Giselle notes. Over time, Kieran and Giselle accumulated more belongings, from hand-me-downs from Giselle’s grandmother to wooden furniture that Kieran crafted himself. The couple also welcomed two daughters, Pia (12) and Izzy (9), and a dog, making their family (and home) much more full.
Today, this fullness makes for a wonderfully rich and utterly charming home, a space that emanates warmth and love from every nook and cranny. Like a great pair of jeans, it is a space that gets better with age and use, perfect in its imperfection. “In the cold months we warm up by our wood stove, listen to records or sing along with Kieran on the ukelele,” Giselle says. “In the summer we spend a lot of time outside, us in the garden and the girls in their tree house or in the giant forsythia bush.” No matter what the season, this seems like a beautiful place to call home. —Max