Rina and Brittain Stone are both visual storytellers: She’s the creative director at InStyle magazine and he’s the strategy consultant for the Ulster County housing community Hudson Woods, and a former photo director. So when the Manhattan-based couple found their ideal weekend retreat in Accord, they were thrilled, Rina says, to have “a new playground, a new palette to work from.” But the old stone farmhouse on Boodle Hole Road, affectionately dubbed “Boodle,” had its own rich stories to tell.
Built in 1749 with a mid-1800s addition, the charming Dutch Colonial is signature to Ulster County’s historic architecture. It originally belonged to Dutch farmers, the Krums, who must have been pretty successful, Brittain posits, based on its uncommonly large size, which totals 2,700 square feet. The 16-acre property, which spans both sides of the road, includes walking gardens cultivated in the 1920s and ’30s by former owner Charlotte Ripple Reid. Down the road, a few twigs the Stones planted upon buying the house in 2005 are now full-grown willows, swaying over a picturesque pond.
The Stones looked to architect Kurt Sutherland, an area native with a deep knowledge of local architecture, to exhume the house’s original character. “I look for opportunities to keep with the design of an old house, but fit it to the way people live now,” Sutherland says. Because the Stones entertain frequently, he opened up the galley kitchen to allow flow between the connected living rooms, creating space for guests to mingle. He nixed the 1980s Formica countertops and black refrigerator, recessing a new steel one into a former storage area. Beadboard cabinetry, designed by Sutherland, creates visual continuity with the house’s original wide-plank pine floors and exposed beams, which were all tung-oiled by hand by builder Whitley Cooper, who also built a Dutch door for the home’s entrance, featuring hand-forged hardware.
Rina drew inspiration for the interior design from her travels, but ultimately let the house speak to her. When she spent a weekend steaming away layers of wallpaper in the central living room, she discovered raw beauty beneath. With the help of her Accord neighbor, plaster and cement artist Diane Boisvert, she applied fish glue and linen to the walls to bring them to life. “To me, they look like something from a Tuscan villa or even old ruins in Cuba,” she muses. “The color is incredible—that little bit of blue that just peeks out.”
Shaker-style furniture throughout the house reflects Rina’s “uncluttered” aesthetic. Most of the furnishings were sourced from local antiques stores or Rina’s favorite trove for household treasures, Hammertown in Rhinebeck. “One element can really make a room. The walls do it here, so everything else can really take a back seat,” she says. Three multipurpose living spaces connect across the first level. A dim, leather-and-fur clad study (Brittain’s bachelor nook) is nestled in the back corner, adjacent to the kitchen. The fully renovated second story includes two modest bedrooms and a brand new bathroom, featuring a vintage claw-foot tub from Zaborski Emporium in Kingston that is poised on a platform Sutherland devised to hide the new plumbing. The roomy, sky-lit master suite features a tiny door that opens over the house’s right-side addition, revealing thick wood beams—the bones of a former sleeping loft.
Although the Stones have successfully captured the house’s original spirit, they also got more than they bargained for. Brittain tells of an antler chandelier in the entryway that spontaneously fell on their guests (none were harmed) and a tree that was set ablaze by lightning. “It was so loud and so scary,” remembers Rina. Once, while strolling the property, the couple was startled to discover a stoic stone angel amidst the brush, guarding the grave of Charlotte Ripple Reid.
Despite the house’s quirks, the Stones have found harmony there. Rina and Brittain were married on the property in September 2007, and their two children, seven-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Linus, revel in weekend canoe rides on the pond. “I travel a lot for work and do photo shoots—being able to come here and unplug is really important, and really good for the kids too,” says Rina. For the Stones, Boodle has become more than an exciting new set. It’s the inspiration for their best project to date: creating their family’s story in a country home.