Springtime in New York

I don’t think people realize how kind New York people are.

– Bill Murray

A view of Manhattan peeked through branches thick with cherry blossoms as we approached the elegant old mansion on a cloudy April afternoon. We opened the black wrought iron gate and climbed the slate gray steps to the front porch. The turn-of-the-century home overlooking the Hudson River was built of pale, sand-colored bricks and had a red tile roof.

Entrance

The front entrance

We waited on the front porch under a dramatic French-inspired round metal awning supported by ornate wrought iron brackets. The glossy cherry red curved French doors and transom windows were edged with a wide, pale gray stone façade. We turned to take in the view from the porch, grateful for the shelter as the air smelled like impending rain.

Cherry tree
Cherry tree

I had never been on the East Coast in April and was enraptured with the puffy pink gowns worn by three cherry trees adorning the streets before us. The combination of raspberry and pale pink against the lime green leaves lifted the spirit of the day, which had gradually grown somber with the gathering clouds.

Living Room 

Living room fireplace
Living room fireplace

We heard the front door open and turned to see Marilyn, laughing graciously as she welcomed Marshall, our friend Stuart, and me with her beauty and kindness. Once inside, we stopped in the living room of the stately 1903 residence to admire the pale blue walls and ornate fireplace mantle.

View from the living room window
View from the living room window

I knew Marilyn loved old houses as I did and had kept the structure the same as it was when she moved in several years ago. She remarked how beautiful the blue walls looked in different light. Then we turned to the window to take in the striking view across the storied river below.

Sunroom

The sunroom
The sunroom

After settling into our rooms upstairs, our group gathered in the sunroom. The long, narrow space with a slanted wood beamed ceiling encased by three brick walls had initially been an outdoor loggia. Previous owners had enclosed the area preserving the connection to the main house with three sets of tall, arched French doors, creating a year-round space with a dramatic, old-world feeling.

View from the sunroom
View from the sunroom

The three sets of interior doors corresponded with large windows on either end of the sunroom and a pair of oversized French doors in the center that open to the garden. Large stone columns connected with beams run parallel to two wings extending from the upper and lower levels of the main house, forming a grand U-shaped courtyard.

Garden

The garden
The garden

Marilyn opened the garden doors and led us out between two elegant Japanese maple trees she planted that had recently donned their beautiful bronze leaves for spring and summer. We continued to the edge of the terrace, which is surrounded by an ancient stone baluster, to take in the stunning panoramic view. Just then it began to rain softly, infusing the air with the fragrance of fresh blossoms from a magnificent black trunked tree in the garden.

Black trunk with pink blossoms.
Black trunk with pink blossoms

Grand Salon

The piano in the grand salon
The piano in the grand salon

The next morning, a tour of the house started in the Grand Salon, as Marilyn calls it, which is connected to the sunroom by the three arched French doors seen in an earlier image. The room has an Arts and Crafts feel, with dark wooden beams and walls paneled in rich golden wainscoting that literally glows. Marilyn played a song for us on an old Knabe piano she had recently acquired and placed in the corner of the room where they often entertain guests.

Juxtaposition in the grand salon
Juxtaposition in the grand salon

At the other end of the Grand Salon are two contemporary chairs Marilyn purchased because she loved the round shapes in the fabric. She placed the chairs directly below two Arts and Crafts sconces and added a sleekly modern plexiglass table between them. This light and whimsical vignette surprises the eye with its juxtaposition to the traditional Mission style background.

Kitchen

The yellow table and chairs
The yellow table and chairs

Another surprise emerged in the adjacent kitchen. A canary yellow Formica and chrome mid-century table and chairs, inherited from Marilyn’s parents, were tucked against the back of the kitchen door. It was utterly unexpected, yet totally refreshing amid the dark wood cabinets that lined the walls.

As I reached for the red purse with a black handle sitting on the counter above the table, I discovered it was actually a ceramic cookie jar (alas, no cookies). Another black and white ceramic cookie jar purse sat at the other end.

The clay female bust with bird keychain
The clay female bust with bird keychain

As I turned to the counter across from the yellow table, I eyed a clay bust of a woman with a bird keychain hanging from her ear. In front of her lay an old-fashioned tape measure on a metal box painted with a red scalloped border.

The lamp, pig and monk
The lamp, pig and monk

The tour culminated in the dining room, where another disparate group of objects in a corner caught my eye. An unusual black and white striped lamp stood behind a glossy black ceramic vessel next to a shiny silver pig standing on a picture of what looked to be a Buddhist monk.

New York

Sunrise over Manhattan
Sunrise over Manhattan

On the last day of our visit, I awoke early to catch the sunrise. As I stared at the skyline before me, I decided Marilyn and Nick’s home was a paradigm of the shining city seen through my window.

Their rooms were filled with eclectic mash-ups of furnishings, rugs, paintings, dishes, balls, books, magazines, plants, collections and objects that seemed endless in their diversity. Just as the Big Apple is a vast, wide-ranging universe of themes and interests that display continuously in its assortment of people, cultures, languages, pets, entertainment, architecture, parks, foliage, restaurants and stores, to name just a few.

New York City
New York City

Although engaging with the magnificent metropolis of Manhattan while driving, parking, and walking was to us at times challenging and intimidating, our friends remained calm and good humored through it all. And the New Yorkers we encountered everywhere we went could not have been more courteous and gracious.

I decided what I liked most about visiting Marilyn and Nick and the people who call New York City home was their kindness.

Thank you, Marilyn, Nick and New York, for a visit I won’t forget.

For the love of kindness,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 4 comments
  • Cheryl Blue
    Reply

    Loved the tour, loved the vintage kitchen table…

  • Judith Jones
    Reply

    On my bucket list to visit New York City and “take it all in” …..thank you for your impressions as always, Linda.

  • MARLA PATTERSON
    Reply

    OH LALALALALA!! I love NYC and first met it as an 18 yr old appearing with a group I sang with on the Ed Sullivan Show (yes, i’m anciient). What a city!!!
    When we go we stay near Time Square in order to see as much theater in3-4 day as we can manage….this place and Paris are my faves…however I do think NYC is the more exciting.
    WHAT A HOME! I have never seen anything like that in or near the city. Glad you clarified about the red handbag because I would have made myself nuts looking for it on the internet. Thank you for sharing your “eye”. Would love to know the history of that grand old place!

  • Maria
    Reply

    Such an interesting home and what a location! I would love to see what you would do with it.

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