The Phillipstown Home of Stephanie Diamond | House Profiles | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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The Phillipstown Home of Stephanie Diamond 

A look into the home of the Listings Project founder

click to enlarge DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid

[THE EDITORS OF CHRONOGRAM CHOSE TO PROFILE THIS HOUSE AND HOMEOWNER. THE FEATURED HOME IS NOT FOR SALE.]

As founder of the Listings Project, artist Stephanie Diamond has a strong passion for houses—and the pristine vaulted ceiling, glass windows, and wood-everything in her Phillipstown home show it.

Fifteen years ago, Stephanie Diamond went looking for an apartment. A graduate student at the time, the artist, dancer, and entrepreneur was living in Queens but wanted to be closer to the NYU campus in Manhattan, where she was studying art education. "I emailed my friends, like all of us do before we start casting a bigger net, and said, "Hey, I need a space." Diamond, a native New Yorker, had already built a substantial contact list, first as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design and then working as an educator and community coordinator for MoMA PS1. "People sent me great listings," she recalls, and although she actually found a place through another avenue, what happened next was unexpected. "People kept sending me great listings," she remembers. All were for unique apartments and too good to keep to herself, so Diamond passed them along to her network of artists and healers. She didn't think too much of her tendency to share. "I just did it, I didn't mean to make it anything, I was just helping people out," she recalls. Then she received an email from a fellow artist: "I'm renting my space, can you send it out to your great list?" it asked. "I thought, 'Great list? What are you talking about? What great list?'" A light bulb went on. Diamond connected the dots and her ingenious combination of social art practice and high-tech entrepreneurship, the Listings Project, was born.

The daughter of a landlord and an artist with "a photographic memory for every space she's ever lived in," it was natural for her to combine her love of photography with her love of shelter and her talent for creating community. Curated and updated weekly, her emailed "list" features "every type of space situation available"—including art studios, apartment shares and swaps, lease-takeovers, exhibition and rehearsal spaces—sharing them with members all over the world. More than just dwelling spaces, the Listings Project is a place to make meaningful connections and grow community creatively. True to her talent for connecting people with places, Diamond and her growing family have found a space especially suited to themselves in the rolling landscape of the Hudson Valley. A modernist house of glass, wood, and stone with an earth-friendly design, it honors the surrounding landscape's respective history. And, while it took Diamond time to find her place, she quickly forged a deep connection to the land and her newly adopted Hudson Valley community.

click to enlarge The home’s two-story main room is open to the upstairs loft. The bare floors are intentional. “We are a dancing family,” explains Diamond. “We dance every day or we are in here making art.” - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • The home’s two-story main room is open to the upstairs loft. The bare floors are intentional. “We are a dancing family,” explains Diamond. “We dance every day or we are in here making art.”

Finding her way home

Both the road to Phillipstown and the road to running a successful start-up had their twists. After that first explicit emailed request, Diamond partnered with an internet provider and established a website where friends could sign up to receive listings. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, the number of submissions grew, all of them vetted by Diamond and then shared with an expanding roster of members. When her professional situation changed, Diamond realized she had to monetize the service but was hesitant to ask for money. She didn't want to lose her community but couldn't afford to keep working pro bono. So she wrote a letter to listers explaining her decision to charge on a sliding scale. Instead of rejections she received thank you notes. The overwhelming positive response —that she should continue, and that many members had already been looking for a way to repay her—challenged her notion that being an artist meant constant financial struggle. "Artists are not nonprofits," she realized. "We can make money." With the blessings of her community, Diamond hired her first employees and began adding new features and categories to the site.

Diamond's personal life added a few categories as well. She discovered the "5 Rhythms," a movement meditation and dance practice, and trained as a teacher. At one of the dances Diamond met her partner, an educator with a background in holistic youth development, equity, and inclusion work. They had a daughter, and after living in New York City for many years, decided to try life on the West Coast, relocating to Berkeley, where they lived for two years. It was a rather circuitous route, but this cross-country move helped Diamond realize where her true home lay. She found herself missing the East Coast attitude and people as well as the brood's extended families in New York and New England. However, their connection to the natural world was equally important—returning to New York City wouldn't do.

click to enlarge The home’s barrel-vaulted ceiling and multiple interior and exterior windows enhance the bright, boundless space. A mix of the couple’s own artwork, friends’ pieces, and family photos line the walls. - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • The home’s barrel-vaulted ceiling and multiple interior and exterior windows enhance the bright, boundless space. A mix of the couple’s own artwork, friends’ pieces, and family photos line the walls.

The Hudson Valley beckoned. "It seemed like a balance between incredible nature and people we love," Diamond explains. When they found their 3000-square-foot home, they took to its setting and ethos right away. The three bedrooms and four baths were just the right amount of interior space for their growing family. Built in 2007 from Upstate-sourced spruce and pine as well as stones harvested from the property, the home achieved a New York State LEED rating for energy efficiency. Once a sleepaway camp, the four acres still included three of the original cabins—re-roofed, wired for electricity, and fringed with the original hydrangea bushes—all of it connected to the Hudson Highlands forever wild woods. They loved the property's history, the home's open space plan, and its connection to the surrounding natural world. They decided to take the leap and moved into the house in July.

People in Glass Houses

Entered through a glass door winged with floor-to-ceiling windows, a minimalist mudroom leads up into the foyer and the spacious, airy first floor. The double-height, lofted main room features a gracefully arched, barrel-vaulted ceiling and exposed wooden rafters. A mix of vertical, horizontal, and tilted rectangular windows comprise the room's three walls and extend all the way to the ceiling, filling the space with light and offering abundant, unobstructed views of the surrounding woods. The couple stripped away grey paint to uncover pine wood floorboards that stretch throughout the house. In the east, a sunny kitchen has wood-like linoleum countertops and a large butcher block island; in the west an open dining area mixes a table and chairs passed down from both sides of the family. A downstairs guest bedroom, complete with skylights and a modern gas stove, doubles as office space.

click to enlarge Diamond decorated the walls of the second bedroom with “Birds on a Wire” decals she found on Etsy. She bought two sets, painted the separate birds, and then arranged them at varying heights to give the illusion of wallpaper. - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • Diamond decorated the walls of the second bedroom with “Birds on a Wire” decals she found on Etsy. She bought two sets, painted the separate birds, and then arranged them at varying heights to give the illusion of wallpaper.

Upstairs, the two bedrooms have vaulted ceilings and expansive south-facing windows. Accessed through a landing open to the main room below, the master bedroom features slanted rectangular windows and an additional gas fireplace. High-set interior windows between both bedrooms and the landing, as well as multiple angled windows along the home's roofline, illuminate the entire interior structure. The four full bathrooms compliment the home's natural design. All are lined with travertine stone tiles in variegated earth tones and one bathroom features a Japanese-style deep soaking tub and a ceiling of Plexiglas.

click to enlarge Diamond in the home’s open kitchen. With only one previous owner, it didn’t need much - improvement. She did refurbish the kitchen’s wood look linoleum counters and island. - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • Diamond in the home’s open kitchen. With only one previous owner, it didn’t need muchimprovement. She did refurbish the kitchen’s wood look linoleum counters and island.

Honoring the Stones

Downstairs, the main room is minimally decorated with a couch and little else. This minimalist design is intentional. "We dance every day," explains Diamond, "or we're in here making art." The dominant feature of the room is the hearth, situated in the north and decorated with the family's collection of rare stones and crystals. It's a reminder to remain grounded, not only in the surrounding earth, but in the values and lessons they've built their lives upon.

"For me the Listings Project is an art piece," Diamond explains. "I never make a decision without the community in mind." Staying true to this original intent, Diamond now has five employees—all of them artists like herself, with alternative creative careers—and still encourages listers to include "real" pictures with posts: Unmade beds, piles of cat food, and messy, or ultra-clean, kitchens are all welcomed. "It's a way to see the aliveness of the people in it," Diamond explains. Through word of mouth and without advertising, the weekly listings are now read in 70 countries by over 200,000 people and have expanded beyond the original base of artists and healers to include other professionals copacetic with the mission. With a local list of 5,000 and growing, Diamond hopes to expand further to address the unique needs of Hudson Valley residents.

click to enlarge The dining area looks over the main room to the surrounding landscape. “I am obsessed with homes,” says Diamond. “There is something so special about having the right place to come home to, to center and ground and not have anything else to worry about.” - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • The dining area looks over the main room to the surrounding landscape. “I am obsessed with homes,” says Diamond. “There is something so special about having the right place to come home to, to center and ground and not have anything else to worry about.”

Diamond credits her success to her attention to detail as gatekeeper of the site, vetting every new postings and keeping the list current, as well as the strong community ties the Listings Project encourages. Shared households and workspaces are not the only creative arrangements the site has inspired. Along the way members have formed bands and fallen in love. "There was even a story of long-lost family members reconnecting," says Diamond.

It's not such a surprise. "We never let go of the community aspect," she explains. "I started with my friends and still have that same vision—everyone will always be taken care of, that's what's important."

click to enlarge The home’s glass-and-wood entrance is decorated with pieces from Green Mountain Minerals in Beacon. “Being here is such a good balance. We live in the woods—the continuity and connection to nature is incredible—and we have a beautiful community,” says Diamond. - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • The home’s glass-and-wood entrance is decorated with pieces from Green Mountain Minerals in Beacon. “Being here is such a good balance. We live in the woods—the continuity and connection to nature is incredible—and we have a beautiful community,” says Diamond.

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