A restored studio reveals a layered history with a style all its own
by Margaret Williams
Photographs by Casey Dunn
When Erin Thornton and her husband, John, heard that the lot next to their Tarrytown home was coming up for sale, the plan was fairly cut-and-dried: Purchase the property as an investment and scrape the existing home, which they had been informed was a teardown. That all seemed fine and well until they actually stepped into the space. As Erin remembers, “We both split off, started walking around the house and kept kind of meeting in the middle, nervous about who would say it first. I forget who did. ‘Is it just me or does this house have integrity?’”
At the time, thanks to a distracting out-of-date Mexican-inspired interior and a long ago ’80s addition (which managed not to have affected the bones of the original structure), the couple didn’t know why the home felt the way it did but decided to integrate the two lots and keep the house as a revolving studio and workspace. Thank goodness they acted on those initial instincts, as the couple later learned that the midcentury gem had been built as the home of renowned architect George Page. Page had been a partner in Page Southerland Page (founded in 1932 by George’s older brother, Louis, and his good friend Louis Southerland; George joined the firm in 1939), known for its early midcentury residences and later McCallum High School, Dart Bowl and Palmer Auditorium, to name a few.
Erin, a writer and designer, with infectious creative enthusiasm, explains that the layered studio has had multiple iterations, three to be exact, and will most likely have more. “This house has allowed me to re-create a new way, in exactly my way. It’s been about creating an environment where work is play and play is work. They exist seamlessly. It’s also about inviting other people in.” And in fact, the couple held their New Year’s Eve nuptials in the space, which I imagine was iteration two, but who’s really counting?
While the noteworthy backstory and current inspiration for the studio are certainly interesting, the space stands on its own. Sunlight pours in from all directions, and despite its openness, Erin has managed to create pockets that flow effortlessly from one to the next. Framed flea market textiles live next to contemporary art, passed-down familial silver is integrated with a pair of ’60s Lucite chairs and a French antique sofa sits below a ceiling covered in a faux-ivy trellis (described by Erin as “extreme fakeness”). And don’t miss the Gummi Bear-filled crystal bowl surrounded by Fortuny-upholstered Danish chairs.
Somehow it all manages to feel both worldly and cozy. I could go on and on, but I’ll let the space (and Erin) do the talking. Pass the Gummi Bears, please.