“Love Where You Live” - Hammertown’s Mantra Is Now A Book, Too
By Dan Shaw
If grown-up life is really high school all over again and again, then the Rural Intelligence region finally has a yearbook thanks to Joan Osofsky of Hammertown: Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country, a coffee-table design tome published by Rizzoli that features 18 country houses in Berkshire, Columbia, Dutchess and Litchfield counties. You won’t find any manicured estates or McMansions in Love Where You Live, but you will probably see the houses of at least a few people you know from our neck of the woods including Bobby Houston & Eric Shamie of Alford, MA; Diane Love & Bob Frye of Millerton, NY; Rob Bristow & Pillar Proffitt of Lakeville, CT; Susan Orlean & John Gillespie of Gallatin, NY; Miles & Lillian Cahn, who founded Coach Leatherware and created Coach Farm in Pine Plains, NY, which is renowned for its exquisite goat cheese.
While many of the featured homes are furnished with upholstery, rugs, and lighting from one of the three Hammertown stores—in Great Barrington, Pine Plains and Rhinebeck—they are also full of items from beloved local resources with national reputations such as Michael Trapp Antiques and Ian Ingersoll Cabinetmakers in West Cornwall, CT; Copake Auction in Copake, NY; Hunter Bee in Millerton, NY; Pergola Home and Privet House of New Preston, CT; Rural Residence and Stair Galleries in Hudson, NY.
Osofsky and her collaborators—writer Abby Adans of Ancram, NY, and John Gruen of Lakeville, CT—understand and appreciate the nuances of rural living and they’ve assembled a book that celebrates and deconstructs modern country style. “What all of these homes have in common is their respect for the landscape,” observes Osofsky, a former school teacher and farmer’s wife, who’s been a retailer in our region for nearly 30 years. “Everybody decorates with an eye to the outdoors.”
Unlike standard contemporary design books that are chockablock with houses decorated soup-to-nuts by brand-name interior designers, the aptly titled Love Where You Live features houses that are clearly reflections of their owners sensibilities, and most are filled with with books, crafts and paintings by local artists. “They have a collected look,” says Osofsky. “They have been put together over time. When people come to Hammertown to shop, we never try to sell them everything they need because their homes will end up looking like a store! We encourage them to explore all of the other wonderful retailers and dealers in our area, too.”
Every savvy real-estate agent in our area should give this book to their potential clients so they will understand our region’s soul. The houses are not “aspirational” in the Architectural Digest or Elle Decor sense. You would never mistake them for houses in Greenwich or the Hamptons. But they are exactly what thoughtful, sensitive people aspire to: homes where dogs jump on the furniture, wood fires burn in the hearth, and guests are not required to remove their shoes before entering the living room.
The book’s inclusive spirit is a reflection of Osofsky’s commitment to giving back to the community. Its launch party at the Pine Plains store on Saturday, Sepetember 21, coincides with an annual fundraiser for the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. The Rhinebeck store will have a book signing on Friday, September 20, and the Berkshires book signing on Sunday, September 29, will be at Chesterwood, the historic home Daniel Chester French, where Hammertown decorated the guest cottage last year. As much as the book has its roots in our region, the philosophy behind it has a universal message. “Everybody,” says Osofsky, “should love where they live.”