For many of us, the impulse to follow a wild and beautiful dream is kept in check by an inner voice of caution: Surely it would be too risky, too time-consuming, too dear. Designer has a knack for tuning out such misgivings, at least judging by the house that he shares with his husband, Kris Haberman, and their son, Parker.
, left, Haberman, and their son, Parker, in the side garden off the kitchen. The bench is circa 1900 and the flooring is antique glass-and-steel subway grates from London.
From the broadest gesture to the smallest detail, their home is a testament to the rewards of going all in. Located in Snedens Landing, New York, a historiccommunity a dozen miles north of Manhattan, the house offers surprises at every turn.
In the kitchen, a root table found at an upstate New York auction was fitted with a glass top, the chairs are covered in a vintagefabric, the ceiling incorporates beams from a 19th-century Pennsylvania barn and the lights are by . The cabinetry and countertops are by , the refrigerator is by , the oven is by , the sink fittings are by , the flooring is Cuban cement tile and the walls are painted in .
A light fixtures; and raindrop mirrors cascade down a wall. A theme unifies the house, but nature here has a wonderland quality. “I like things to be unique,” says de la Torre, “so that someone can’t come along and say, ‘Well, I could do that too.’ I’d rather create something new.”counter is inlaid with petrified wood; brass parakeets pivot to turn on a bathroom faucet; “cloud” reliefs float on hand-troweled plaster walls; blown-glass dragonflies flit around translucent
In the front garden, the custom benches, planters and widow’s walk are painted in , the lanterns are by and the pavers came from a quarry in nearby Rockland County, New York.
Not that de la Torre jumped blindly down this rabbit hole. Before undertaking the work, he and Haberman spent eight years living with the home’s limitations. The 1950s structure is a backsplit ranch — one story in front, dropping to two at the back. In the original configuration, all of the public rooms were on the upper floor, with the bedrooms downstairs.
“We were always going out the front door and around to the back of the house to be in the beautiful yard,” says de la Torre. “So I had this crazy idea to take the floor out, creating a double-height living room at the back.”
The foyer’s parchment consoles were found at auction, the bench is from and the 1919 bronze chair is by . The pendant lights are from Murano and the doors are painted in .
Also swept into this somersault was the kitchen, which had been situated by the front door. “Once those changes were decided, we pretty much repositioned everything,” says de la Torre — a process that required structural reinforcements so complex, the designer describes it as his master’s degree in construction. “It would have been cheaper to tear the place down and rebuild,” he admits. “But the house would have lost its charm.” Another key goal was illuminating the interior. “The house was really dark,” says Haberman, who works as an account executive for ESI Design.
The family room’s sofa is by , the wooden chair carved in the style of came from a Paris flea market and the cocktail table by is from . The walls are sheathed in inlaid straw marquetry from Paris and the alpaca rug is by .
To that end, the roof was punctured with skylights, and solid walls gave way to expanses of glass. “I’ve always ogled steel casement windows,” says de la Torre, who planned to use them in just the living room. “But this is how it starts with decorators, right?” Now, the entire house is outfitted with custom windows and matching doors.
In the living room of designer and Kris Haberman’s home in Snedens Landing, New York, the custom sofa is upholstered in a fabric, the 19th-century Belgian cabinet was found at an auction in London, the bronze pendant light is by and the Georgian fireplace is attributed to . The walls are coated in waxed plaster, the flooring is Indian sandstone, the silk rug is by and the painting over the mantel is by .
Not to be outdone by this influx of sunlight, lamps and overhead fixtures also offer flashes of brilliance. “I’m really big on lighting,” says de la Torre. “It draws your eye. It’s like jewelry.” A giant bronze cocoon light by hovers above the living room, while a pair of sconces flickers beside a nearby fireplace. The designer paid as much attention to how the house would function and feel as to how it would look.
The living room’s circa-1905 chairs are covered in Burmese python, a sculpture by serves as a cocktail table and the pedestal was originally a newel post.
“Underlying everything, I want it to be super comfortable,” says de la Torre, who credits his former boss and mentor with helping to develop his appreciation for texture. Whether upholstered in leather, fur, snakeskin, wool, or silk, every seat in the house encourages lingering, just as virtually every wall surface begs to be touched. The eclectic mix of furnishings includes a handful of favorite pieces the designer had stashed away in storage over the years — in particular, some whose outsize proportions had been waiting for an outsize space like the living room.
Giant newel posts designed by in the 1970s now serve as pedestals; the cast-iron balconies came from a “robber baron’s house,” he says. Equally grand is the span of years: An 18th century mantel faces a 1980s cocktail table by .
“It’s fun to have furnishings play off of each other,” says de la Torre, “like an interesting cocktail party.” The renovation itself could not span a similar breadth of years. Indeed, de la Torre had to meet a critical deadline: his June 2015 wedding to Haberman — with the reception to follow at their house.
The powder room mural is by and the wainscoting is painted in .
“She sat down with the two of us and said, ‘OK, tell me the story of your life.’” Then she disappeared into the bathroom. An hour later, it was done. “It has the places we grew up, the story of how we met,” says de la Torre. All of which makes it a perfect symbol to mark the end of the construction of one kind of dream, and the beginning of another.
The bed in the master bedroom is upholstered in an and dressed in and linens, the bedside tables are by , the stool from is upholstered in a fabric and the circa-1970 ceiling light was found at a Paris flea market. The walls are upholstered in a wool suiting, the ceiling is covered in a tea-leaf paper, the custom wool carpet is by and the artwork over the bed is by .
This story was originally published in the June 2017 issue of ELLE DECOR.