This Month’s Featured Article

The Design Capital of the Hudson Valley

By Published On: November 1st, 2019

There are towns tucked within our storied valley, with their quiet regality and pastoral charm, that have come to establish their own unique identity over the last half-century. From food of course, to wine, music, and most recently even beer. Both lifetime locals and entrepreneuring newcomers have worked to mold the characteristics of their hometowns that have come to define their spot on the map.

As marked as the great Hudson River itself, towns like Hudson and Woodstock in NY, Stockbridge, MA, and Salisbury, CT, have carved out a niche for themselves in the fertile land the river feeds and in Millerton, NY, over the last twenty-years, a similar phenomenon has taken place. With an enduring rustic vitality mixed with uptown chic, interior designers, antique dealers, and home decor experts from all over the country have come to this little village on the border of Connecticut to set up shop and establish roots on its rural downtown streets. As a result of this manifest design revolution, business owners of every design niche have helped Millerton join the ranks of area towns and villages that have become known far and wide for what they do best.

For the business owners in Millerton, it’s not just about displaying their own design prowess. It’s about connecting with the people who visit the village to experience it, and creating a community amongst themselves for those with a singular passion. For shoppers, designers, hobbyists, and those looking to immerse themselves in the eclectic art of interior design, Millerton has become the capital destination in the Hudson Valley – a Shangri-la for the interior design fan, and the must-see spot for the very art itself.

Taking the tour with sages and newcomers

As one travels southbound on Route 22 into Millerton, paralleling the historic Hudson Valley Rail Trail, the first introduction into this design destination comes in the form of a restored barn housing the Old Mill of Irondale, a landmark that takes advantage of its historic nature by selling a wide variety of antique crafts from just across the idyllic brook that flows lazily around its borders. Antiquers and home decor enthusiasts will be hard pressed not to find everything on their list from this point on heading into the small village.

North Elm Home sits just before Millerton’s Main Street, but has established itself as a premiere destination for those looking to fill their homes with furnishings, accents, and antiques that blend modern style with historic elegance. Co-owners John Scutieri and Cindy Dunleavy have taken their combined thirty years of experience and distinctly discerning eyes to offer the area both interior design services in addition to reclaimed items from all over the world as well as hand-crafted items from local artisans. Featuring pottery, tables, cabinets, and more, the Millerton mainstay makes local items the popular feature. North Elm Home’s Art Wall houses local arts, with paintings and sculptures from local artists featuring a new show every six weeks.

On the corner of Main Street sits a starkly modern shop that is less about retail fare, and more about the modern ideal. Meta44, which shares space with a Farrow & Ball stockist, a premiere paint and wallpaper shop, is a play on the phrase “a metaphor for,” and seeks to make a deeper connection with the world of interior design by displaying the “many degrees of modern.” In order to emulate this carefully curated idea, co-founders John Allee and Charlotte Tracy have taken painstaking efforts to convey their message through their selections of furniture, unique objects, and art. Allee, a local architect who runs an architecture firm in Millerton called Allee Architecture + Design (AA+D) further up along Main Street, describes himself as having been “building since birth,” and says of Millerton’s lure to the local artisan, “It’s a pervasive local culture, with good food, one-of-a-kind resources, and of course, its proximity to NYC. The Main Street curve and hill, while probably a pain to novice parkers, is one of Millerton’s greatest assets.”

On the main drag

Indeed, the very design of Millerton’s main drag can inspire visions of both the area’s blue collar past, and its charmingly modest-yet assuredly polished design present. Of course, interior design, in all its landscape, does not only include nouveau-chic or even the traditional items one may think of when conjuring up images of home design or antiques. Tucked within a nook off of Main Street just across from where the Rail Trail cuts through the village, sit two shops that rely on comfort and countryside aesthetic to drive business in the heart of their rural setting. Neighbors Country Gardeners Florist and Leslie Flood Interiors share the kind of charm necessary for those looking for a certain down-home feel while still maintaining a style that excites.

Country Gardeners Florist has been providing this aesthetic to Millerton for three decades and owner Joanne Scasso embodies the family-run feel by maintaining a rural farmhouse atmosphere with a wide selection of floral arrangements.

Leslie Hoss Flood Interiors offers customized furniture and decorative accessories among other items that convey the same type of straight-forward style perfect for the escapist looking for country flare. Similarly, Charlotte Merwin, of Merwin Farm and Home, a shop offering a variety of handmade and locally crafted home and garden decor, located on 20 Main Street, says the key to design in Millerton is its local feel and the community that surrounds her agrestically charming storefront. Though the business itself may be a relative newcomer to the Millerton scene, Charlotte has spent her life in Millerton watching it grow and evolve, “I live here and I grew up here, so to be not only running my own business here, but doing it in a field that I am so passionate about, it’s really a dream come true and I want to be part of the evolution. I think it’s also great for Millerton to have so many young business owners joining the fray.”

Antique’s row

Millerton’s artistic community has undergone an evolution not only in style, but in character as well, evident at the center of Main Street, where the beating heart of the town’s design spirit lives. Hunter Bee, located at 21 Main Street, has developed a loyal following of interior design fanatics, and for good reason. Owners Kent Hunter and Jonathan Bee have combined their unique talents as both creative director for several agencies in New York City and installation artist respectively to create a premiere collection of items that are at once industrial, modern, and classically American. “The beauty is in our mix,” says Kent of Millerton’s growing selection of antique hot-spots. Jonathan adds, “But Millerton still remains under the radar, and that makes our town and these businesses still so much fun to visit.”

Of course, evolutions like these breed new and interesting ideas, and both Jonathan and Kent understand this key element within their own marketplace, “I think it’s an evolution of retail, people like a little bit of everything and that’s why you don’t really see any of our shops simply featuring just traditional antiques.”

That trend continues next door at Montage Antiques, where owners Dana Jennings, Fritz and Chloe Rohn have spent their lives immersed in the world of antique furnishings. “I was raised with antiques,” says Fritz of his childhood home, “my home was filled with Italian walnut furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries that my grandparents bought while on honeymoon in the early 20th century.” Similarly, Dana’s mother was an antique dealer in Americana-style items and her grandmother also dealt in antiques from all over the world. Antiquing is Montage’s heritage and it shows upon entering its vast interior space of mid-century and country furniture. For Fritz however, the key to the antique market is what also makes it so rewarding, “Knowledge is absolutely the most rewarding part of being an antique dealer, getting to know aesthetics, structure, and even the wood which was used to make an item.”

The concrete of Millerton’s antiques foundation continues to be poured along Main Street with two shops that have staked their claim in experience and familiarity. For the past thirty years, owners John Kynick and Francis Nestor have shared their venerated contemporary take on modern art and design across our area in the form of Cottage + Camp. From Boston to Woodstock Krynick and Nestor have seen design and home decor in all its forms throughout New England and the Hudson Valley. Cottage + Camp had previously operated out of the same building where Merwin Farm and Home is currently located and, after a brief hiatus, has brought its beloved quirky sensibilities back to its new home on 23 Main Street.

A few doors up from Cottage + Camp, and rounding out Antiques Row, is what can only be described as an antiques institution in Millerton, and one whose roots permeate throughout the village. For the past two decades, the Millerton Antiques Center has been home to some of the most uniquely vintage items in our area made and sold by some of the most gifted of local artisans and designers. The Millerton Antiques Center has so firmly established itself at the heart of Main Street that even a number of current business owners in town have either began their design careers within its walls or have a personal link to its storied history in some form or fashion. The Antiques Center’s communal atmosphere blushes out onto the corner of Main Street and has since breathed its local design motif into the shops and spaces that surround it. Home design enthusiasts and local decorators looking for their own kind of personal touch for their homes now have a plethora of options to fit their needs and check off home decor to-do lists.

There’s way more to it than just furniture

The savvy customer with a discerning eye won’t have to travel far to realize their design visions, from having one of the many paintings at BCB Studios or prints sold at Little Red Bird Studio framed just up the street at Gilded Moon Framing, to architecture – the very beginning of a design adventure. Homeowners are aided by experts at AA+D, Over Mountain Builders, EcoBuilders, and Steed Home Restoration for more sustainable ways of living.

Dotting the interior space with furnishings and accents that define character and home decor can be accomplished with the help of John Goudreault’s Custom Furniture and Fine Art, and the newly relocated Charlotte Taylor on 50 Main Street. Finding the most reliable home appliances, electronics, televisions, paints and tools for even the smallest of home projects can easily be pursued at Gordon R. Keeler Appliances, Dave’s TVs, or Ed Herrington, Inc.

The indulgence of interior design variety has planted the seeds for a few highly anticipated newcomers as well. Merwin Farm and Home isn’t the only newly christened design shop to have Millerton buzzing, just down the road is Millerton Mercantile, only a few months old but already making a decorative impression. The beehive of design excitement continues on South Center Street at Taradise, a newly-opened consignment shop taking up residency beneath the T-Shirt Farm.

Perhaps the biggest undertaking of all is happening just across the street from Terni’s Store in a building that has shaped Millerton’s past – formerly known to every local as Saperstein’s. Led by enigmatic 26 year old designer Savannah Hussey, Borrowed Nostalgia has set up shop alongside Camp Boutique and Millerton Made in what is now a business collaborative inside the former beloved department store, and joined Millerton’s design vanguard with a striking mix of vintage edge and a modern sense of style and comfort. Having grown up in Arizona and cut her teeth in Los Angeles – one of the premiere design destinations in the world – Savannah moved back to the area and began work at Place Gallery, where Cottage + Camp is now located. After seasonal work ended, and with the support of her community, Savannah employed the same sense of confident ambition that has taken her across the country to open Borrowed Nostalgia, a vintage furniture and furnishings store that fits Millerton’s destination design feel with a twist of unabashed youthful postmodernism. Hussey’s style and presence along Main Street represents the movement to the Hudson Valley corridor that Millerton’s design reputation has enabled for prospective design entrepreneurs. Her magnetic style and personality give the impression that, despite her age and location, she has hardly any shoes to fill. Despite all of this, Savannah knows what lies at the heart of Millerton and its collection of businesses, and it’s that intuition that makes her, and every other member of this village of kindred spirits, the future of the Hudson Valley’s premiere design destination.

“It’s a real collective effort, living in the Southwest and coming here, I see the difference not only in the seasons, but the community. Having that support for new businesses is vital for our success as a community of designers.”