Interiorssneak peeks

Two Artists Find Home In A Charm-Filled 1900 Farmhouse

by Maxwell Tielman

“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

The view of the living room from the kitchen. "The best thing about this room, and all of the house really, is that the big windows let in so much light and breeze from the surrounding fields," Giselle says.
Kieran constructed the dining table himself, basing it on a design from the 1950s. The chairs were picked up at a local antique store. Vase on the table by Andrew Molleur.
The living room's stereo cabinet was a curbside rescue. On top of it sits various hand-turned candlesticks and objects created by Kieran. The ceramic sculptures were gifts from the sculptor Arlene Shechet.
The living room's couch and stairway leading up to the bedrooms.
A bearhead made by Giselle for Halloween sits atop a coatrack made by Kieran. The wooden cabinet was found inside the property's chicken coop and was moved into the main house. Both portraits were painted by Giselle's grandfather, Fuller. The ceramic figure is by a family friend, Anker West.
The view of the kitchen from the living room. The 1970s kitchen was torn out when the couple moved in and replaced by an open plan with countertops and cabinets constructed by Kieran.
The kitchen is housed in a small addition to the house, likely constructed in the 1940s. "From the sink you can see the vegetable garden and keep an eye on the kids in the treehouse," Giselle says.
The kitchen stove came from Kieran and Giselle's former apartment in Brooklyn. "It's nearly impossible to find tiny, well-made stoves, so we are having trouble parting with it," Giselle says.
Off of the living room is another room referred to as "The Other Room," which functions as a guest room and a place to play music. The molar tooth stool beneath the piano was made by Kieran. The photograph is of Giselle by her sister, Chloe. The marching band hat is from Kieran's short time in the Rosendale town band.
Kieran's ukelele and a painting by Alex Lakin sit atop the piano.
"Our bookshelf has a lot of gardening books and fairy tales," Giselle says. "For some reason, we have a collection of travel books for places we meant to go, but didn't. Like a record of almost vacations."
The tripod lamp was a gift from BDDW. The cabinet was made by Kieran with legs he found at the local dump. Painting by Alex Lakin. Plasma-cut portraits are by Giselle's father.
Giselle's desk, inherited from her grandmother. The painting was made by her grandfather.
The view into the toy room. "The rooms in our house make a full circle," Giselle says, "which has always been a great source of entertainment for kids to go around and around." The walnut couch/day bed and stump stool were made by Kieran. Family portrait by Giselle.
Giselle embroidered the pillow on the daybed.
A family portrait painted by Giselle.
The master bedroom. "This is one of the first beds I ever made," Kieran says. "As a woodworker, I first learned timber framing, which is like building a barn. All my first furniture just looked like the frames of old farm buildings. Both our daughters were born in this room."
"Our bedroom window faces directly east and always gets the very first light of day," Kieran says. "Our home used to be a dairy farm, so I imagine when they built it they took care to position the master bedroom windows so they would wake early."
Giselle's bureau. On top sits a jewelry box that her mother gave her and a leaf cut portrait by local artist, Jenny lee Fowler.
A painting by Giselle's grandfather of the mountains in North Carolina.
The bathroom. Kieran and Giselle brought the clawfoot tub with them from Brooklyn.
The old sink was found at a junk shop with a homemade cabinet around it.
Isabel's bedroom. "It's the largest bedroom in the house for the smallest person in the family," Giselle says. Bed constructed by Kieran. Pears painted by Giselle's grandfather.
"Izzy spends many hours at her tiny desk doing important paperwork and organizing," Giselle says.
"Pias room is one of the smallest in the house, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in views," Kieran says. "With the windows facing northwest, you have good views of the sunsets and summer storms. The bed is made by me."
"Pia's old school desk looks out over the apple trees and lilacs," Kieran says.
The entry porch and main door.
"On the path to the garden is our daughters' tree house," Giselle says. "We call this a tree house, but it is really a 'shrub-house' nestled in a honeysuckle bush. We built it low so they wouldn't need help when they were young climbing in. We built it out of bits and pieces of scrap we had saved and it keeps expanding as the girls grow bigger."

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  • Oh, what a lovely Monday morning gift! The home is so warm and welcoming and the furniture woodwork is beyond beautiful .Aside from the beautiful visuals, Max’s writing always seems to put me in a place where I feel I know the homeowners personally and am taking my own private tour. Thank you for taking me to that place.

  • Oh my gosh. This home tour just makes my heart sing. Love all of the handmade things and the idea of kids growing up here. What a magical place.

  • How do you spell LOVE…. THIS HOME. I would love to live in this home. It looks comfortable, well appointed and there is nothing snobby whatsoever about it. It makes me feel that the folks who live here are very content with their place. Thanks for letting me peek inside.

  • Hands down my favorite home featured on Design Sponge.

    I can’t get over how cool that molar stool is! Does Kieran have a single brother by any chance?

  • I agree with Nancy….this home just feels comfortable and loved. It’s also not overly styled, which is such a breath of fresh air compared to so many homes featured online these days!

  • This home is so beautiful – I love the woodwork and the paintings and its wabi-sabi aesthetic. A favorite house tour. Every room is really inviting!

  • beautiful….simple, artistic, and lovely. love that their art work and collections, and furniture all work so well with the aesthetic of the house itself. perfect. what a great home to raise a family in!

  • I am fond of rosedale and even more so knowing such beautiful interiors could live in the pretty exterior homes. What a peaceful place for your family!

  • We just bought a home five minutes from Rosendale, in High Falls, so hello neighbors.

  • Gorgeous! The color in the bathroom is lovely. Can you share what it is? I’d appreciate it!

  • I remember when this house was first posted. Loved it then, love it now. It’s very peaceful-looking.