Wabi-Sabi House | House Profiles | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Wabi-Sabi House 

Feng Shui Fabulous in Millbrook

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Wabi-Sabi House
"I call our home the wabi-sabi house. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of celebrating imperfection," says Michele. "There are dings in the wide pine floors."

Translated in a design sense as flawed beauty, characteristics of wabi-sabi include asymmetry, economy, modesty, and an appreciation of textures including the patina of age. Incorporating centuries of Chinese art and Buddhist thought about impermanence, wabi-sabi evolved into a distinctive Japanese ideal, embraced by the nobility. A taste for wabi-sabi is associated with wisdom and satori—that is, the first step toward enlightenment.

"It's an eclectic, rustic home for relaxation, rejuvenation, and contemplation, where nature is the origin of its ambience. That's why it's decorated in soothing earthy tones," says Michele. "It's my favorite of the many houses we've owned. Moving around for my husband's job, we kept downsizing. We've edited down our possessions to just our very favorite things."

Looking into the kitchen from the living room. Of note: Broadway Linear Crystal Chandelier above the bar by James R. Moder. Michele, a feng shui expert, says, “The fiery nature of the crystals balances the strong wood element throughout the home.” - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • Looking into the kitchen from the living room. Of note: Broadway Linear Crystal Chandelier above the bar by James R. Moder. Michele, a feng shui expert, says, “The fiery nature of the crystals balances the strong wood element throughout the home.”

More View, Fewer Walls, Plus a Deck
Since buying the house nine years ago, the Sayreses added a deluxe master bath, with a separate toilet area outfitted with shiny nickel plumbing fixtures. It's decorated in tone-on-tone neutrals to create the illusion of space. They removed a wall between the kitchen and the living area blocking the waterfront view, transforming the public area of the first floor into a dramatic "great room" with a 17-foot bar. They added an 800-square-foot deck with a custom-made see-through cable railing. The deck is made of Ipe, also known as Brazilian walnut, a sustainably produced hardwood. A traditional woodstove was upgraded with a revolving high-end Rais, made in Denmark. The hall bath was gutted and reoriented to include a compact but visually dramatic laundry room featuring a marble-topped folding area.

"We've now lived here for four years longer than any other home we've owned," says Ed. "We recently bought a place in Sarasota, Florida, but we're going to hold on to this one. I've recently started a consulting practice."

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