Proof Dark Walls Are Pretty Much Always A DO

Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
Today, we are happy to share Anna Dorfman's lovely home. Anna says, "My husband Evan and I (and our dogs, Bruno and Fritz) divide our time between two homes — a rental apartment in Brooklyn, and an 1891 Victorian house in the historic City of Newburgh, which is about 60 miles north of NYC in the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York. We go back and forth between the two places depending on what our work schedules are like (Evan is a technologist and musician, and I'm a book cover designer), but the house is really our home.

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"We're on a loose, multiple-decade plan with renovations, the pace of which is determined by urgency, time, and money. We have no deadlines. And, we don't think about resale value, so we try to make sure that everything we put into the house is what we really want. As as result, our house has really turned into a sort of dream space for us. It's not in what you'd call 'the country,' but it sits on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River and is surrounded by beauty — both natural and man-made."

Click through for a tour of the stunning space!




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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"Size-wise, our house is about 1,800 square feet. It's a classic rowhouse floor plan on a city lot, with windows at the front and back of the building. We have four bedrooms (one for us, one for guests, one for clothes, one for work) and two bathrooms, plus a small garden in back. I don't like to get too precious about objects, so I'll just say that my favorite find is the house itself. "
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"The City of Newburgh has one of the largest historic districts in the country, but it's also a city that has seen some terribly rough times in the past half century. A lot of houses have fallen victim to serious neglect and abandonment. A decade ago, our house was vacant and had plywood nailed over the windows. Somehow, miraculously, our house managed to stay mostly intact as far as original details are concerned."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"Even most of the original wavy-glass windows are still there! We still have the original plaster walls, all of the fireplaces, the woodwork, the massive front doors. We're very lucky. We feel very much like the house has been entrusted to us. We're here not only to fix what was broken and respect the construction of the past, but to think about the house's future when doing renovations."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"It's very humbling to live in a house that's almost 125 years old — it was there long before us, and it'll be there long after we're gone. Beyond the house's function as a dwelling, it's also a part of a greater community whose recovery we care a great deal about."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"Most of the time it's just us there, but lately we've been trying to be better about inviting friends up from NYC."

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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"I love to cook for guests, and now that the kitchen is finally being renovated for real, it's such a pleasant room to be in."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"We also recently finished our very, very gradual garden renovation, and once mosquito season is over we might actually get to spend some time out there relaxing! Evan has space for recording music, too, which is amazing."

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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"We bought the house in early 2006. And, for four years, we lived there full-time and commuted via ferry and train to and from NYC every day. For the past three years we've also rented an apartment in Brooklyn, but we always go back to Newburgh. With the exception of moving walls (something we've deliberately chosen not to do), just about everything inside and outside of the house has evolved to some degree."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"Bathrooms have been gutted, cast iron radiators and tubs have been sandblasted, bricks have been repointed, walls have been replastered, electric and plumbing work has been re-done. You name it, it's probably happened in our house! The house was a mess when we bought it — a true fixer-upper. I still marvel over 'before' and 'during' photos.

"We've done almost all of the renovation work ourselves, which is incredibly rewarding. Neither Evan nor I knew anything about renovation and repair work seven years years ago, but these days we're pretty fearless. If we don't know how to do something, we figure it out. We make mistakes and learn from them. We take our time."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"Right now I'm working on renovating the kitchen, which has been in a sort of 'temporary' (ha!) holding pattern for years. So far I've finished tiling two of the walls, and once we remove the radiators for repair and refinishing, I'll take care of the other two."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"It's really a wonder to see how far the house has come."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"I can't wait to see what it'll look like in another seven years!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"The dogs are always so happy and content in Newburgh — they use the entire house for lounging!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Ilenia Martini/A Beautiful Mess.
"Above everything, though, I use the house as an outlet for my need to transform and make better that which surrounds me."

NEXT: Best. Gallery Wall. Ever.
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