Design Diary: 2 Note A-Frame, A Rural Retreat In Ghent
Carolyn Mix and Darcy Doniger
Welcome to the winter edition of Design Diary… reporting in from the chilly, but charismatic Hudson Valley. Though dressed in winter white, Upstate New York continues to offer a welcome respite from the big-city blah-blah-blahs and those inevitable post-holiday blues. Hudson, in particular, has evolved into a year-round retreat for burnt-out urbanites, but it is also home to those who, by default or intent, come for a weekend and never leave.
In 2015, it was destiny that caused Carolyn Mix and Darcy Doniger to literally lose their way and find Hudson. Partners in life and co-founders of 2 Note, a botanical perfumery and natural skin care collection for body, bath and home, they were en route home to Maine when they stumbled on Hudson. In Maine, 2 Note was established and thriving, a business built on “products with a conscience,” to quote Mix. Despite the unorthodox logic, the two still felt a strong connection to Hudson’s energy and wanted to be a part of it. The duo returned, closed shop, packed up their furry family of rescued creatures, and never looked back.
Re-establishing 2 Note in central Hudson, they were content to live in a loft apartment above the storefront for four years, but they dreamt of owning a home in a more remote, rural setting. Eventually they began to research houses for sale in the area, and looked at dozens of potential properties. At each location Darcy would ask, “Is this a house I want to take care of… and is this a house that will take care of us?” That dream came true last fall, when they fell in love with a contemporary (circa 1990) A-Frame house on 10 acres near Ghent, complete with a handsome vintage barn. They had found a home with the right answers to those key questions.
They purchased the A-Frame with its signature silhouette, reveling in the abundant natural light and airy interior. The minimal architecture was a perfect fit for Mix and Doniger’s spartan aesthetic, and the old barn, once refurbished, would be an ideal event venue. The structure was solid, so painting the interior a fresh white, pouring a chic, but functional, concrete floor downstairs and swapping out the ancient mailbox for a designer version, were relatively easy ways to upgrade indoors and out. Choosing to install a Velux solar-powered skylight in the master bedroom was more ambitious — but thanks to its energy efficiency rating, a portion of the cost was covered by tax credits. Other renovations included replacing the 30-year-old windows and doors, plus a lack of existing closets necessitated adding “hers and hers” cedar closets. Renovation and design work was handled by ES Builders, Harper Home Co. and The Paint Bureau.
The most valuable home improvement by far — and a source of great pride for both — is one with significant economic and environmental benefits, a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system. Doniger and Mix drew inspiration from many years attending The Common Ground Fair, an established resource for sustainable farming and green building practices, and home to Maine’s oldest organic farmers association. During the geothermal installation, workers excavated a degraded oil tank (an environmental nightmare), revealing its massive iron base. This creative pair re-envisioned the rusted base as a stylish coffee table with a glass top, which now graces the great room. A recycled steel and vintage wood bench, using a discarded NYC street grate, is another unique addition to the striking interior design in this spectacular home.
According to their website, the name 2 Note was born from “the relationship between music and scents. Fragrant compositions are traditionally described in notes, like those in a musical scale.” Carolyn and Darcy are indeed the two notes: Both are gifted musicians and play together professionally throughout the year, this in addition to their myriad other talents. Mix is a fiddle player and a master perfumer, Doniger plays cello, and is also an accomplished fine artist. Every house is not a home, but in this harmonious relationship, this is definitely a home.
All photos courtesy Carolyn Mix and Darcy Doniger.
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