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Name: Caley Adams, Max Adams, and their 1.5 year old son
Location: On a small cul-de-sac in Westchester County
Size: 1888 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years lived in: 2 years, owned
Caley Adams is the founder and creative director of Wildes District, an NYC-based design studio that specializes in design for emerging women’s and e-commerce brands. She shares a beautiful house on a small cul-de-sac with her husband, Max, and their 1.5-year-old son. “We found our home when we were looking to make a move from Brooklyn,” begins Caley. “I specifically was looking for a Colonial or Georgian style house, having grown up in Maine where they are everywhere. It’s harder to find these types of houses in Westchester, particularly houses that are also older than the 1950s.”
“When we saw this house, we knew it was the one. It had a distinctively British feel to it (‘Tory’ chimney, white stucco, elegantly landscaped yard and hedges) that was very charming. We also loved the setting… it’s situated on a serene little cul-de-sac with a big, old apple tree in the middle of it that blooms bright pink in the spring.”
“When we saw it, I loved all of the old charm and quirks. The windows were all extra-large with old, wavy-glass, and the staircase going upstairs was a beautiful wood, with steps that creaked. And because of the land we have, it also feels private and cozy, like a little hide away,” she writes.
My Style: Eccentric and funky
Inspiration: I’ve always loved bright, poppy ’60s and ’70s retro style… the sentiments and aesthetics of that time are really fun. Growing up, I had books about these decades through the lens of fashion and pop culture that I consumed nonstop. I would also love to go antique shopping, and I’d always find incredible retro objects, like bright Lucite sculptures, and beaded-shade lamps. Today, some of my favorite movies and TV shows are still ones that depict that era… “Valley of the Dolls,” “Madmen,” “Almost Famous,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” etc. Similarly, I’m also influenced by Jonathan Adler, because he finds a great way to blend these aesthetics with older homes. I live in a Colonial home, which I also love because I grew up in a Colonial town in Maine — so to me, his aesthetics are the perfect balance.
Favorite Element: I love our fireplace. It’s the focal point of our living room, and one of the things that made me fall in love with the house. It’s an older home, so it’s a uniquely wide fireplace and really draws you in.
Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge for me was fusing the Colonial, old styles that I love in the house (the dark wood floors, the wide fireplace, the old, extra-wide original glass windows, the wooden stairs) with contemporary, bright decor. I realized that it was about balance… each room had to have modern touches, but old ones as well. For instance, our living room has a long acrylic table and a mid-century orange lamp, but also an original built-in cabinet, and vintage Mary Vaux Wolcott botanical prints.
Proudest DIY: I love the built-in cabinet in the dining room. It has such a unique shape and style. We decided to make it really a focal point for entertaining and filled it with different barware and wines, which display really beautifully. We also created a bar cart to accompany it from IKEA. When it arrived, I spray painted it bright yellow before assembling so it would feel more stylized.
Biggest Indulgence: One of my favorite pieces in the house is the orange mid-century lamp in the dining room. I found it on Etsy, and didn’t realize until after it arrived that it had European wiring that needed to get re-wired. After hearing that it couldn’t be done by three different electricians, I finally found a boutique lighting store in Scarsdale that could do it, but for a pretty penny. To this day I still won’t tell people what it cost me, all said and done. I can only say that it was a lot, but SO worth it.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Our home, and the others on our street, was originally built in 1930 as a model home for an extensive planned development project. You can really tell that no detail was spared in the build, to make it as elegant as possible to prospective new homeowners. The intricate glasswork on the built-in cabinets is the same as on the (very heavy, original) front door. The stucco treatment on the outside was meant to look like a traditional English manor. The plaster walls in the downstairs were treated with a textured effect that was common at the time in many estates.
Unfortunately, the stock market crashed the same year that the house was completed, and the development project never came to fruition. But our house and the houses around it that exist today are so charming.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love all of our art and decor, and almost every piece in the house has meaning. The Mary Vaux Wolcott prints in the dining room feature flowers from our honeymoon travels. The print of a London street scene is a vintage poster from the 1980s — my mother tore it down from a London (where she lived) subway wall and ran off with it when she was in her 20’s. The painting of the pan and orange above the fireplace was done by Max’s grandmother, and the abstract blue encaustic piece in the living room was done by my mother — both are artists. There are several items in the house that feature lily of the valley as a motif, which is my favorite flower. And many of the Lucite decor pieces were actually things I purchased at antique markets when I was between the ages 8-15.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I have a lot of art supplies, which can get messy and unwieldy very quickly. To store them, we bought a bunch of woven baskets to put them in, and put them on our bookshelf in the den with all of our books. It’s a nice way to make them readily accessible while still feeling organized.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? There are so many good things you can find at antique stores and even online on Etsy or eBay. The best way to start is to think about things that are meaningful to you (favorite flower? Honeymoon spot? Your hometown or home state/country? A specific field, such as chemistry, or a specific animal or pet?) And then keep your eye out for related things. After a while, you’ll have interesting repeating motifs in your house decor and objects that are unique and special.
Another tip… when looking for furniture or decor, pay attention to silhouettes, not colors. Often times, colors can be changed with a quick spray paint. I’ve spray painted a bunch of items in our house (our bar cart, the legs of our living room chairs, our bathroom mirror, our fireplace racks, several lamps) and doing your own paint lets you fully get the look you want.
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.