Amid Rolling Hills, A Catskills Retreat in Callicoon
When Brooklyn-based interior designer Christina Salway, her husband, John, and their newborn son trekked to Callicoon, NY in search of an antique bookshelf, they had no idea they would also discover their future home – an idyllic, but crumbling farmhouse atop a secluded hillside. Together, with help from an army of talented friends and a supportive family, they transformed the dilapidated relic into the country home of their dreams. A home that felt destined, if not delayed.
The farmhouse is filled with one-of-a-kind antiques, flea-market finds, family hand-me-downs, and salvaged items, which is the way Christina prefers her interiors. “‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ I should get that tattooed on my face,” she says. With the majority of the work almost complete, Christina and her family have settled into the home’s spacious rooms, inimitable eccentricities, and uninterrupted nature-drenched views. “You look out and you can’t see anybody else in any direction. It’s very dreamlike. We spend all week in Brooklyn, which is mayhem, and it’s such a respite to go up to a place like this and have such a pronounced sense of privacy.”
The kitchen, complete with an original Chambers stove, has a sea-inspired color scheme found throughout the home. “I’m such a furious sucker for this blue-green glassy palette,” says Christina.
A pair of leather Chesterfield sofas that Christina found in Newark, NJ, almost didn’t make it home. “When I got there, I couldn’t decide if they were awesome or horrendous. I was 95% sure they were awesome, but there was a nagging 5% that was like, are they horrible?”
“That’s a perfect embodiment of our whole house,” says Christina of a dog painting with a bullet hole through it that resides in the living room. “Everything is a little bit something. I didn’t want it to feel like an overly serious country home, because we’re not overly serious people.”
These two portraits – a hand-me-down from a former client in Cobble Hill – sparked a collection of now nearly 10 “weird ancestors” in the living room, each with their own bizarre twist. “One of them has a striking resemblance to Tom Hanks, one is definitely looking in two different directions at once. They’re all imperfect ancestors of someone else,” says Christina.
Christina painted a runner to give a touch of architecture to a staircase that essentially had none. Behind the door, original built-ins connect the dining room to the pantry on the other side. Christina warmly laughs about the odd feature, noting, “I’ve never seen it before, but it could be that the reason I’ve never seen it before is because it has no purpose. It doesn’t have any clear function, but it’s such a cool detail.”
The attic has been transformed into a bunkroom of sorts, where the couple’s single friends stay when visiting. A chandelier Christina found in the trash in Paris hangs overhead.
A nightstand handed down to Christina from her mother-in-law gets a second life in the master bedroom. “These older pieces actually have the capacity to be handed down because they’re made to last,” says Christina.
Originally, the home had no plumbing upstairs, so Christina and her husband added two bathrooms, including this one in the master bedroom. The doors, along with their original hardware, were scooped up from a farmer’s scrap heap that was about to be burned.
The claw-foot tub in the master bathroom was a Craigslist find that took six people to schlep upstairs. But for Christina, the sweat was worth it. “Truly one of my very favorite things to do is to take a glass of Rosé into the shower at the end of the day and stand there and watch the sun go down.”
The vanity in the master bath was once a dining room sideboard in Christina’s Port Jervis house. The folding chair, like so many pieces throughout the home, was a dumpster score from the Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “We had all these weird things that I had acquired that I didn’t have a plan for, I just knew that they were incredible.”