To Steven Rummer and Steven Malone, the most interesting part of renovating an old house has been the discovery of its past and the lives of previous owners. When they took up the old carpets in the living room of their Staatsburg, NY home dating back to the year 1900, they uncovered a scar from a wall that was removed to create a grand stair foyer. And, upon replacing the lightswitch plates in one of the bedrooms, they found pink polka-dot wallpaper instead of the anticipated painted drywall. Though it’s impossible to know when any of the countless changes were made to the home, the pair find it comforting to know theirs is a house that has been lived in, and grown with each owner over time. As they make their own mark on the 1,900-square-foot Federal-style property after two years of ownership, Rummer and Malone find themselves able to exercise the crafting talents passed down through generations of woodworking and quilting forebears. Handmade items they’ve created themselves, with their families, or inherited are among the most treasured items in the space.
The previous owners of 40 years left the house in great condition, so Rummer and Malone only needed to make cosmetic updates to suit their decidedly modern viewpoint. However, in older homes where the walls aren’t quite square, even relatively simple tasks like scraping, patching, and priming ceilings tend to take longer than expected. The resulting decor is a mix of old and new, vintage and handmade, and high- and low-end pieces. A warm, eclectic style highlights architectural details while toning down their formality so that family and friends can feel comfortable and relaxed during their visits. The pure white walls downstairs provide a bright, clean background for warm neutrals and pops of color in textiles and flowers from the garden. When planning out the bedrooms upstairs, the duo went with warmer tones of green, blue, and grey, maintaining a neutral and natural aesthetic. The guest rooms are decked out with comfortable beds, fine linens, accessible side tables, vintage luggage racks for suitcases and bags, and convenient plugs. As for the art, most pieces have been found on antiquing jaunts in the Hudson Valley. The couple love looking at the walls in their bedroom and remembering each place they found something that spoke to them.
When they toured the house for the first time, Rummer and Malone were enchanted by photos of the home’s original family playing badminton in the front yard and sitting on the front porch steps about 100 years ago. Even though the porch is long gone and the maple seedlings are now giant trees, they felt attached to the history of the house. As part of a small group of stewards throughout its life, the pair intend to see the home through its next chapter while making their own history here for many years to come. —Annie
Photography by Julie Holder