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before and after

Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford

by Annie Werbler

Stony Ford, a quaint country estate, was once used as a horse breeding establishment from 1864 to 1900, toward the beginning of its known history. During that time, owner Charles Backman entertained many dignitaries, including President Ulysses S. Grant (who enjoyed his last cigar here). After conversing about horses all day, the gentlemen would retire to the home’s smoking room (now master bedroom) and discuss the finer points of equine mating science. Over a hundred years later, new owners and pro photographers William and Susan Brinson have a different program in mind for their restoration, but still want to honor the history of the house. The old Greek Revival fixer-upper in Goshen, New York, within the state’s fabled Hudson Valley, originally enticed the couple by way of a historic homes website, where they watched and waited for three years before signing on the dotted line. The house needed lots of cosmetic attention, but first the basics like flushing out water treatment systems, installing a new boiler, and relocating 200 bats that had set up shop in the attic, took precedence. Now, repairing walls and making drapery to better insulate the 5,200 square foot, three-story home are goals before winter comes. One of the first spots to get a makeover is a guest room named for Young Duchess, one of the mares who once resided at the farm. In fact, the homeowners found books from the 1870s that list the horse names, and so named all the rooms on the second floor after the female horses. Modern horsehair wallhangings by Golden Pony Workshop reference the site’s horse history. The home can be tracked as far back as 1850, but it is unclear exactly when it was built.

For this guest room, the Brinsons collaborated with Pottery Barn (some more about the effort here) on striking a perfect balance between vintage and new. They love to plan every detail for their visitors, like having plenty of extra blankets around, clipping fresh flowers from the garden, and other little details that make people feel welcome. Susan took inspiration from the Greek Revival architecture. Though the style can sometimes feel grandiose and dramatic (like the names of fast horses!), softer elements, such as natural linens, reference the country setting. It is this balance between opposite forces that make the design interesting to the couple.

The makeover took about two months to complete, as William and Susan did all the work themselves (along with the help of some industrious friends). About half of that time was spent removing the 1950s wallpaper, repairing the stress cracks in the walls, which meant first anchoring the plaster to the lath, then embarking on a pretty hefty patch job (check out the blog post here), and stripping, sanding, and repainting the original doors. For the decoration, Susan selected lots of shiny metallic accents mixed with organic textures like linen upholstery and cotton bedding. The new gold furniture elevates the worn vintage pieces to their current level of sophistication.

The house has changed much over its 165+-year history, but thankfully, many of the original details remain. The Brinsons are undertaking a huge restoration project over the next several years to bring Stony Ford back to its original glory. Because renovating an old house doesn’t happen overnight, follow @houseofbrinson on Instagram for regular updates, or search hashtag #PBandStonyFord for more on the collaboration between the Brinsons and PB blog Inside & Out. โ€”Annie

Photography by House of Brinson

Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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The Young Duchess room at Stony Ford (which used to sport retro 1950s wallpaper), features a mix of new Pottery Barn pieces with items collected over time, like the armoire owner Susan Brinson picked up in Savannah during college.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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The matte gold Pottery Barn Teen Maison Canopy Bed and assorted earthy linens pop against the updated bold floral Ellie Cashman wallpaper to create a luxe experience for guests.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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A vintage chair nestles into a corner between the armoire and bedside.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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Breakfast in bed is served on the Etched Brass Tray from Pottery Barn.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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A Pottery Barn Leona Cube Table holds decorative accessories and essentials, including the vintage bedside table lamps purchased in the Hudson Valley.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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The Pottery Barn Kinsey Enamel Jewelry Box contains a card with helpful wifi network info and oft-forgotten phone chargers.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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A unique ceiling medallion showcases the vintage chandelier purchased in the Hudson Valley.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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An overview of the room from beside the bed reveals an eclectic mix of vintage and modern decor.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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An ornate antique desk purchased in the Hudson Valley is paired with a simple Pottery Barn Sadie Ladderback Side Chair, along with a Golden Pony Workshop wallhanging commissioned in order to honor the equestrian history of the house.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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A detailed view of the desk shows the Pottery Barn Bailey Bedside Lamp Base and Shade.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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Unexpected details like this horsehair key chain by Golden Pony Workshop add a sense of storybook wonderment to the well-equipped quarters.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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A plush conversational seating area is especially luxurious in a guest room.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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A warm vintage scalloped sofa was sourced at the Brimfield Antique Show, while sheer draperies were handmade by Susan Brinson with fabric found at Gray Line Linen.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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The Pottery Barn Salinger Upholstered Armchair, Vince Metal-Clad Accent Stool, and Ruched Faux Fur Throw create a comfortable spot in which to cozy up with a good book.
Before & After: The Young Duchess Room at Stony Ford, on Design*Sponge
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Peeking into the Young Duchess Room toward a vintage coffee table with rigid chain link legs taht the Brinsons had purchased in Greenport, NY for a previous apartment.

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Comments

  • Fantastic! Beautiful! I love it! I’ve been following the transformation on House of Brinson and can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of the house. Your hard work on this room certainly paid off!

  • WOW it is gorgeous, and anything horse themed is good in my opinion. Can’t help but wonder though what happened to some of the “before” furniture. (wicker bedside table, blue lamp, armoire, light fixture.) It could look good in a different setting. I think what really does it for me is the drama of the black and white with gold accents and soft textiles. It’s dramatic but still cozy and inviting!

    • Hi Heidi! We always repurpose furniture in the house. The armoire stayed in the room, we’ve just moved it’s location to the other side of the bed. The only thing that we might not be able to reuse is the original light. Someone paint it and it’s all peeling off. I’m constantly rearranging furniture to find the best home for it!

  • Congratulations on a magnificent job Susan and William. Luxe and dramatic, charming and romantic. The wallpaper was a perfect starting place! You are crazy cool.
    Love,
    Shalagh

  • That wallpaper is so striking – it must be like waking up in the middle of an oil painting! What I especially love about this room is that it looks more historical after the renovation than before; they really did their research and honoured the history of the building. I love it.

  • Being the proud, and somewhat bewildered, new homeowner of an 1850s Greek Revival this post was particularly delightful! It is so nice to see someone who was able to blend a “grandiose” home with softer elements in a historical, respectful way. Well done!

  • Love this! Full of depth, layers and unique details. The wallpaper looks lush and I love the juxtaposition of dark and light. It’s nice to see items from a big box store like PB work in a way that reflects such personal style.

  • I personally couldn’t sleep with that wallpaper. Yowza! It’s a bit too dramatic for my taste but then, to each their own, right? :-)
    Otherwise, very nicely done.

  • I hope the horsehair accents are ethically sourced… I find it’s much more luxe when it’s still attached to the horse :/

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