Interiorssneak peeks

Touring Musicians Build a Beautiful Home Base in Kingston

by Grace Bonney

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.

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!

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.

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!”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.”

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!

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.”

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.”

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.

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  • I love this home so much. Its so creative and comforting too. And fun.
    I love the wall paint colors for the dining room and guest bedroom- do they know the paint colors by chance?

  • This home is FANTASTIC! I have been reading DS nearly since its beginning but never have I been as compelled to say so.

  • I am absolutely in love with this home tour! Thank you so much for sharing :-)

  • Thanks for the kind words! I am beyond excited to have our house featured on Design*Sponge.

    Lael, I do know the paint colors! The guest room is Behr Premium Plus “Thermal Spring” and the Dining room is Glidden “Minty Green.”

    x Darbie

  • I always hate when people ask for sources that aren’t already provided but here I go anyway: where is the sofa with the navy paisley fabric in the living room from? Such a great house!

  • This home really hit for me! It was so refreshing to see more of a “maximalist” style! While I look at the minimalist designs and think “Beautiful! how do I do it!?” I think my heart is more maximalist. I loved that it had so many awesome, interesting, wonderful things – but doesn’t appear cluttered or chaotic. This has been one of my favorites.

  • I love the attic! The dark floors, the shelves, the fairy lights, the way the joists are all visible and the mid-century daybed. I want to live there!

  • This is my second comment to say… Good thing I have some birthday money lining my pockets Grace, as I have now just purchased the newest Bishop Allen mp3 & 2 pet rocks from Darbie’s etsy shop.
    Super excited about all of it. I LOVE crystals & Field Guide Design’s packaging is GORGEOUS!

    *note, I think you may have spelled Darbie’s name incorrectly, it’s with and “ie” not a “y”

  • assuming you have some sort of fiberglass boards between your attic joists(?) and then what did you finish it off with? looks amazing and so inpiring…

  • This house is so beautiful!
    I just wondered if I could possibly ask the owners: How do you find your Crossley record player? I’m toying with the idea of getting one, and there’s just such a range of reviews, good and bad…there’s nowhere I can listen to it before buying it either. How do you find it?
    Thank you.

  • Hi Tony! It was actually like that when we moved in. It’s just insulation boards that have been painted white.

    And hi Maya! We like our Crosley. It’s cute, inexpensive, and convenient. It’s not for audiophiles, but it sounds decent, and as far as record players in that price range go I think it’s a good bet!

    x Darbie

  • Awesome house and so cool to see a few Derek Erdman pieces featured in the cover image! Derek is a pal of my husband and I, and we finally procured our first piece from him last summer… a big red bear :)

  • I love this place, it seems so warm and inviting!!

    It’s really interesting to see how your guys’ photography is progressing! Can I say just one thing? I don’t mean this is a mean way at all…Max’s photos tend to be of the corners of rooms, doorways, and also vignettes. Sometimes it’s hard to get a feel for the flow and layout of the space. I noticed in this tour there were a couple of wider-angle, whole room shots that were very nice. I would love to see a few more of those in the mix to balance out the (sometimes claustrophobic) shots of corners and walls!

    Thanks guys for giving us a peek into beautiful homes every week!

  • Absolutely nothing I don’t love about this home. It is rare that an eclectically decorated house is this successful. They had great architectural bones and went with it. Have to go back and reread to find the name of Darbie’s Etsy shop.

  • By far one of my favorite house tours. What a treasure trove of collected items. Inspiring!

  • Thank you so much for posting this! It’s special to me because it’s one of the first house tours I’ve seen online that actually feels attainable in my current home, which is a beautiful but extremely old and weird rental featuring copious dark wood paneling (the painting of which is not an option, nor would I want to) and many roommates’ tchotchkes and tastes. We live in the Pacific Northwest, so the general darkness of it can really wear on you in the winter.

    This tour confirms my suspicions that, even though I would probably live in a white glass box full of plants if left to my own devices, the way to go with our house is this kind of colorful maximalism. It’s amazing how well the super colorful walls and textiles balances out the dark wood that would weigh down many other houses.

    I just rambled a lot, but mostly, thank you so much, you’ve given me hope for my weird old house.

  • Such a beautiful home! I thought Kingston, Jamaica, at first, and it I thought yeah, that totally fits! haha

  • oh wow! leaving the attic for last, such a good finale. thank so much for this tour!! i’ve now got bishop allen playing in the office, and it’s a good day :)

  • One of my favorite DS tours ever–I aspire to make my home like this one day. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • One of the best houses ever! Color color, finally :)! This looks a lot like my parents house without the….dust! Justin, Darbie can you please share your cleaning routine? Please? I want to help my mother out!

    Ps- Already knew Field Guide from Etsy, great shop!

  • I think this is my favorite featured home. The colors and the cool antique shop vibe. Love it.

  • This house is so, SO cool. Sometimes maximalist homes feel too intentional to me, but it is very obvious that these two stay true to their own interests and I think that’s part of what we’ve all identified as REALLY working in this home. Kudos to you guys–your home is an inspiration.

  • This is the BEST HOUSE EVER! It’s interesting, beautiful, and funky, but also seems comfortable and friendly.

  • Thanks for all the sweet comments! I am beyond flattered.

    Rita, believe me we have our days! Two cats + old house + tchotchkes galore = dust. But I swear by Swiffer dusters! I go through them like crazy — like, I should seriously buy Swiffer stock. No joke.

  • Your home is beautiful! I, myself, am also a maximalist. Everything has memories for me and I like to see and touch those things. I am truly inspired by the bookshelves in your attic. We just gutted ours to put in new insulation and I have been begging my husband, who thinks he is a minimalist, to let me put in more shelving for all my books and craft supplies. Perhaps your home tour will finally win him over. Thank you for sharing!

  • I’ve come back to this house tour several times, because I just wanted to pour over each picture, so many delightful details! I love that it feels so natural and creative, and so cohesive as well! I think my favorite are those lovely floor pillows, would love to know the source, I’ve always loved that idea. THANK YOU so much for sharing your home, this was seriously the best home tour ever! My husband and I are huge fans of Bishop Allen, so this was even funner to see this space!

  • I have to know what the wall colour in the guest room is! It’s perfect, exactly what I’ve been looking for in my office.

  • Hi Miriam! I picked up the floor cushions ages ago at Home Goods. I wish I bought even more. We use them all the time!

    And Darby, the guest room paint color is Behr Premium Plus “Thermal Spring!”

  • This home is one of the prettiest and most unique I’ve ever seen on DS. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Can I just live in that attic please – such a beautiful space, I’m a sucker roofs that are also walls and beautiful stained glass.

  • Wow. This home is my soulmate. I love that you featured a space so eclectic. It spoke right to my heart-JUST MAGICAL!

  • Definitely a fun space, and I love the attic converted into a studio (been fantasizing about creating a play space in my own teeny attic.

    Grace, I have one request, though. When I read Kingston in the post headline, my first thought was: Jamaica? Please remember that there are a whole lot of DS readers who don’t live anywhere near New York, so neighborhoods or nearby towns that you all know mean *nothing* to a lot of your devoted fans. Thank you!

    • Monique

      I’m sorry if that was unclear. I noted “Kingston, NY” in the opener. My apologies if that was confusing or seemed to be a part of NYC.


  • Hi, gorgeous home, great feature! Sorry if this is a dumb question, but just out of interest where abouts is Kingston? Is it Brooklyn? I’m outside the US, tried to google but couldn’t see it listed as a neighbourhood, and obvs lots of other Kingstons out there!

  • Nice house. But as a long-time Bishop Allen fan, my main question is: is the piano Corazon? :)

  • Hi Tom!

    Ha! That’s not Corazon, but she is alive and well and living in Brooklyn at our bandmate’s house!

    x Darbie

  • 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 :)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

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

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