R5 Editor's Memo for Westchester Home Fall 2011

You know you’re in trouble when your contractor has taken to calling your house a “money pit.” And that’s what Ales Fixman (yes, that is my contractor’s real name) has taken to calling the “country house” my husband and I recently bought in Putnam Valley.

It wasn’t my idea to buy it. You see, I love the home I have. When my husband and I bought our non-country home, it was a complete disaster: water-damaged walls, dilapidated floors, antiquated bathrooms, and an outmoded kitchen. Perfect, we thought. Crazy, our friends and family thought. We may indeed be crazy, but we wanted to make it our place with our design. It wasn’t easy, but it sure was fun, and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished.

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Enter the country house. Again, we bought a mess, but a different kind of mess. The flaws and damage weren’t as apparent in our country house—they were well hidden behind the cheap wall paneling, the grungy linoleum flooring, the layers of old paint, etc. We are replacing nearly everything in this house—windows, walls, patio, light fixtures, kitchen. While it’s no fun to shell out money for things no one will ever see (Ales, who is extremely talented, has fixed the drainage around our house, replaced the rotten wood in the foundation, installed a super sump pump in the crawl space), it’s still fun to take a place and re-invent it, make it your own.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s not scary, too. Ales called the other day to say that the color I chose for the guest bathroom made the room look like “Disney World.” Oops. When I told that to an interior-designer friend of mine, she consoled me: “I understand. Our own home is the hardest to do.”

Which is why, no matter how talented, how knowledgeable, how confident we may be, we can all use some help when it comes to designing. And that’s what we hope we provide to you in our pages: help in the form of ideas, expert advice, and visuals. And, should you need more help, just shoot off an email to nclaus@westchestermagazine.com with “Ask Westchester Home” in the subject line, and we’ll do our best to answer you.

Esther Davidowitz

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