After years of urbane sophistication, living in New York, London and traveling the world, fashion designers Martin Cooper and Karen Suen-Cooper felt the calling for more – more time, more space, more nature and more joy. They found it in an 18th century Federal style farmhouse in the Hudson Valley that they have been renovating for the last fifteen years. Please join me and Susanna for a behind the scenes visit to Old Chatham, New York with this inspiring and creative couple.
As busy fashion industry mavens (the first married couple to be inducted into the CFDA ), Martin and Karen had international calendars filled with events and travel, but a visit to rural Columbia County sent them in search of a weekend place. They fell in love with B’ellow (Big + yellow), their moniker for their soon to be home, and two years later began their journey of bringing it sensitively into the 21st century.
They were just moving to London at the time for Martin’s new position as vice president and design director of Burberry. There they found additional inspiration in the centuries old architecture and haunts such as the Sir John Soane Museum, a favorite among design cognoscenti. Classic architectural details and gutsy millwork became the foil for fearless color choices and the backdrop for their personal collections.
Throughout the renovation, their goal was deceptively simple – to reimagine their historic house into a home that both respected the past, the passage of time and light and their passion for entertaining.
When they moved full time to B’ellow last year, they found themselves redefining their lives and savoring time with friends and family, often dining in their divinely sensuous black lacquered dining room, inspired by their travels to such memorable places as Lapérouse and Hotel Costes in Paris, the Wolesley in London and the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
Inveterate hosts, Martin and Karen had always used place cards to honor their guests and seat them effortlessly but finding interesting examples that met with their exacting design standards proved challenging and thus The Punctilious Mr. P’s Place Card Co. was born.
Incorporating imagery that they carefully curate, the cards are beautifully printed on cotton rag paper, with the option of complimentary digital calligraphy of guest names on the reverse. And while the company began with place cards, it has expanded to other printed products such as menu cards, buffet tags, calling cards and personalized note cards (my elegant Birds of India below). They can even send a single personalized note to your recipient of choice – so very handy for time sensitive notes or thank you’s, those with less than admirable penmanship, or who are traveling.
And in need of a stylish yet thoughtful hostess gift? There are Mr. P’s organic wellness candles, made with soy wax and scented with essential oils
or their jams, lemon curd or chutney, handmade with all natural ingredients in small batches in the Hudson Valley. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning for Mr. P as Martin and Karen create more products that reflect their thoughtful country life and discriminating style.
all photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence
So thank you Karen, Martin and Pax for the most delightful day and for bringing a little more joy into everyone’s homes!