Hi, everyone! I know it’s been a little quiet around here lately. We’ve been fortunate enough to be busier than ever with both my design firm, Paloma Contreras Design and my store, Paloma & Co. In addition, I’m now 8 months pregnant, which has left little time for the blog and podcast, The Style Files. That said, I am determined to get back to a regular cadence of posting here on La Dolce Vita. Perhaps not as frequently as before, but more often than I have so far this year. To that end, we have a wonderful new contributor joining us! Stefanie Scheer Young and I first connected when I designed a room for the Kips Bay Showhouse in New York in 2019. Stefanie has an impressive background as an interior designer, real estate agent, and former digital consultant. Based in New York, she has her finger on the pulse of everything happening in the worlds of design and style on the East Coast. I am so excited to have such a chic East Coast Contributor joining us at LDV! Today, Stefanie is sharing her first post, “Spring Awakening” which will be part of her recurring column, Northeast Notebook. Please join me in giving Stefanie a warm welcome! XO, Paloma
In March of 2020 many a city dweller decamped to a weekend country home never expecting a long term stay. It turned out that putting down deeper roots suited a number of home and garden enthusiasts just fine. Now, come spring, the result in one small corner of New York’s Hudson Valley is the blossoming of a Millbrook design renaissance.
Sought after floral, event and home designer Antony Todd closed the doors of his 11th Street Greenwich Village shop taking his treasure trove of elegant, sophisticated furnishings to a new boutique on Franklin Avenue in Millbrook last winter. He offers his chic wares not far from what had – until recently – been his weekend getaway. The selection of antique and custom furniture, eclectic accessories and fine artwork showcase Todd’s classic and clean style. Originally from Melbourne Australia, Todd has been styling timeless events and homes all over the world from his New York City base for over 20 years and now also offers the same services from his new upstate location.
Renowned ceramist Christopher Spitzmiller, widely known as the #pottertothepresident, sells his handmade lamps and tableware through the finest design shops across the country. Spitzmiller spent the past winter at his own Millbrook home putting the finishing touches on his newly released book, “A Year at Clovebrook Farm.” As Spitzmiller says the story of Clovebrook Farm is one of creation and he has produced beauty all around him, renovating, decorating, collecting, entertaining, homesteading and gardening. The book chronicles a year in the life of the ultimate weekend farmer, raising heritage chickens, hatching goslings, cultivating flowers and putting up jam. For those who want to see Clovebrook Farm in person (and possibly even sample one of his home baked cookies) Spitzmiller plans a book signing at the farm as part of the Garden Conservancy open house day on September 18th, during peak dahlia season, in addition to a date in May exclusively for garden conservancy members viewing the tulip bloom. Signed copies of the book are also available through Spitzmillers’ website.
Spitzmiller’s partner, landscape architect Anthony Bellomo, relocated from a city-based practice and has just opened the doors of his new venture Orangerie a garden shop and greenhouse that offers chic and charming items for the garden and home, including a generous selection of Spitzmiler’s collectible ceramics. The greenhouse is filled with a thoughtful selection of garden plants, tropicals, topiary, pots, and planters which will change with the seasons and Bellomo will ultimately offer landscape design services as well. (Martha Stewart and Bunny Williams dropped by with squeals of approval during the recent opening).
Orangerie will be joined shortly in the adjacent storefront by a new Millbrook branch of Creel & Gow. Proprietor Jamie Creel has longtime ties to Millbrook and sought a spot that would allow his chic, eclectic decor shop, filled with exquisite objects, just a little more elbow room. Housed in the former stables of a historic Grovenor Atterbury’s townhouse, the city boutique is an Upper East Side cabinet of curiosities dripping with exotic accessories, natural specimens and smart antiques. In the significantly larger Millbrook space expect more of these same delights and a custom designed line of wicker, large anamorphic figures and more sizable scores from an array of European antique markets. The new shop promises a far grander canvas upon which to display the treasures avid collector Creel comes across, or commissions, on his global travels.
New York City—based interior designer Darren Henault and his family settled into their Millbrook weekend home a year ago March and never really left. By December, Henault had overhauled a former auto repair shop in nearby Amenia and opened the doors of his new home store Tent New York. Henault offers furniture of his own design, down-filled and upholstered in fabrics from the finest European mills, as well as rugs, pillows and tabletop items. Bringing his talent for sourcing items from around the world, for clients and himself, while also keeping a sharp eye out for local artisans, he brings to his shop what makes being at home special to him. Henault has pitched his Tent in Millbrook for the long term, lending a hand to those looking to turn their place into a more permanent home.
Elizabeth Mayhew may be best known as a contributing lifestyle editor appearing on NBC’s Today Show. She is also the author of FLIP! for Decorating (Ballantine), has worked for publications from House Beautiful to Real Simple and currently works as a monthly columnist for The Washington Post and as a decorator, as well as being a home entertainer extraordinaire. With extended time at her weekend home in Duchess County, the one-time weekend baker turned her formidable kitchen skills into an artisanal bakery called “The Duchy” based out of her Millbrook kitchen. She bakes to order, sources ingredients locally when possible and has numerous gluten free and dairy free options. The best way to reach her is via direct message @elizabethmayhew on Instagram. Her most popular items are savory tarts, double ginger cookies, dark chocolate Chippies and artfully decorated buttercream cakes. She delivers to the local area and New York City and ships some items, including the perfect thank you gift for houseguests: a box of loaves with a note that says “thanks for letting us loaf around.”
credit: Elizabeth Mayhew
credit: Elizabeth Mayhew
More local gems to keep an eye open for are Merritt Books, a fantastic independent book store, Cordially Corinne carrying a nice mix of home and party accessories, stationery, cards and the like, Juniper, offering a curated collection of fine gifts, with a gem of a kids section, and Maple Shade Press, Krista Fragos’ local letterpress printer, a great source for custom stationery, place cards, and invites. Nearby Innisfree Garden and the grounds of the Wethersfield Estate open up to the public in May and June respectively.
Best places to eat locally include Barbaro with excellent pizza, as well as delicious kale salad and rigatoni, Canoe Hill, a restaurant-turned-market selling wonderful prepared food (the Calabrian-spiced Chicken is a favorite), tasty cocktails (to go or enjoyed in the back garden) as well as oysters by the dozen. Their cappuccino is top notch too. Julian’s is a cute take-out pizza place that also happens to do sushi once a week. Nearby Serevan is great for fine dining, indoor or takeaway. Locals have a soft spot for the Millbrook Diner, the owner is Greek — his spanakopita is excellent — and the Reuben, featuring freshly made roast turkey is top notch.
Options for overnight accommodations are coming online shortly in Millbrook proper as more than one inn is undergoing renovation, but for now the travelers’ best bet, as road tripping resumes, is an overnight stay at Troutbeck down the road from Millbrook in Amenia for a little rest, to be refreshed and enjoy the regeneration of spring.