R5 In the Homes and Gardens of Dominique Browning

 

Former Westchester resident Dominique Browning was the editor-in-chief of shelter bible House & Garden for more than 10 years—until (boo hoo) the magazine abruptly folded in 2007. That experience was all grist for the mill for Browning’s latest book, a moving memoir—Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas & Found Happiness—that’s slated for publication May 9. We chatted with Browning recently about life in her former and current houses and gardens.

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What inspired you to write your new book? I was trying to work through the astonishing amount of grief I felt at losing the magazine and having to launch myself into a new chapter of life. It was a perfect storm of change—the loss of my job and a longtime relationship and my kids getting older and moving out.

Where did you live in Westchester? For twenty-three years, I lived in Pelham in a classic, center-hall Colonial Revival built in 1910. It was too large for one person, so I sold it in June of 2008 and moved to a house I bought fifteen years ago on the coast of Rhode Island.

What style is your Rhode Island home? It’s the opposite of my house in Pelham. It’s very modern, with a flat roof, large windows, and built on a very open floor plan. It’s in a fantastic location on the edge of a marsh pond and very open to nature—the windows all open on the pond and there’s fabulous bird watching.

Are you gardening these days? I’m starting a new garden. Because this house is by the water, there’s sea spray and a lot of other conditions I have to think about. My Westchester garden had a lot of big old trees and lots of azaleas and it was very shady; the new one is in the bright seaside sun. I like a very romantic, cottage style of garden—not formal—so it will have lots of roses, azaleas, and peonies.

Describe your decorating style. I’m a very eclectic shopper. I mix things from the D&D building and things I got through designers and showrooms with pieces I bought when I traveled and others from Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and Gracious Home.

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What’s your favorite piece that you brought with you from Pelham? I brought all my things. My favorite is a pair of white and straw-colored Billy Baldwin sofas I bought in On Consignment, an antiques store that was in Bronxville.

What were some of your favorite home furnishings shops in Westchester? Though I did most of my shopping in the City, I loved On Consignment. I also used to poke around in Larchmont and Mamaroneck—Briggs House Antiques is a wonderful place.

Any favorite gardening shop in Westchester? Lieb’s Nursery & Garden Center in New Rochelle. I got everything I needed there.

What’s the most important thing you’ve taken away from this new life chapter? It’s so trite to say, but appreciating what you have. I loved my house when I had it; now I wished I had really loved it more. It’s knowing what you’ve got before it’s gone and slowing down and taking time to appreciate that.

Do you miss Westchester? I miss it terribly. I miss the old garden and the old house, the nooks and crannies, and the old wood floors. I miss the whole thing.

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Photo by Frances Palmer

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