Thursday, July 07, 2016
Nan Kempner in the Country
When I first saw these 1983 Architectural Digest photos of Nan Kempner's house in Purchase, New York, I was a bit surprised at how low-key its interiors were. I had assumed that this doyenne of high-fashion would have had a high-style country dwelling. It seems that some of Kempner's friends assumed the same. "I suppose they have a certain perception of me, and when they see this casual, even cozy setting, they're rather surprised, even shocked," admitted Kempner. But rather than be disappointed by the home's somewhat plain interiors, I actually find them refreshing, even if they're not quite to my taste. It's nice to see a country house that doesn't try to be something it's not.
One reason for the home's casual tone is that it was a converted 1930s-era barn, which was located on an estate owned by Kempner's in-laws. Inside the house, rustic elements, such as barn siding, wooden beams, and sisal rugs, mingled with antique furniture that, while refined, seemed at home in the country. Kempner, by the way, credited the home's decoration to John Fitzgibbons, although she admitted to adding pieces picked up on her many travels.
"It's not a done house, it's undone," said Kempner. "Luxury comes in the special country details- fresh flowers, homemade preserves, and vegetables from the garden, for my guests." These might be simple luxuries, but they sound pretty grand to me.
All photos from Architectural Digest, April 1983, Peter Vitale, photographer.