The master bedroom in William Abranowicz and Andrea Raisfeld's home in Bedford, New York, is a luminous retreat with a cathedral ceiling inspired by a 13th-century Swedish church and a glamorous white-tile bathroom. It was the first space the couple renovated when they bought a run-down ranch house in Westchester County, and they love how the room turned out. But it's not where they choose to sleep from May to November. Instead, come spring, and right up until the first frost, the couple spend their nights on a futon bed, complete with an electric blanket, located on the screened porch next to their kitchen. "We love listening to the sounds of owls and foxes, and if it's raining, you get misty waves of wind," Raisfeld says. "It's like our cabin."
The living room of and ’s house in Bedford, New York, which was renovated by architect . The plaster table is by Stephen Antonson, the chaise and wood side table are flea-market finds, the rug is by Safavieh, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore Aura in Dune White; the large painting of Venice is by Kevin Burger, and the photograph over the mantel, Andrea’s Feet (1990), is by Abranowicz.
With their high-powered careers—Abranowicz is a photographer who shoots for magazines, including frequently for ELLE DECOR, and his personal work is collected by museums like the Getty, while Raisfeld is a location agent for photo shoots—one could easily imagine the pair living in a metropolis like New York or London. But the couple, who will celebrate their 25th anniversary this fall, have always preferred to live as close as possible to nature. In the early years of their marriage, they resided at an educational arts-and-crafts center on the Delaware Water Gap. When they had kids, they moved to a house near a 300-acre dairy farm in rural New Jersey. "We didn't see a light at night," Abranowicz says. "It was great but impractical. With my work, I was at the airport every week, which was a four-hour drive from our house."
The entry hall features encaustic tiles inset into wood planks, the chair was found in a Dumpster, and the wallpaper is by Schumacher; the central photograph beyond is by Abranowicz, and the one to the right is by Horst.
When Raisfeld became pregnant with their third child, they realized they needed to be closer to New York. They decided to search in Bedford, a picturesque suburb of rolling pastures, woods, and horse trails just an hour by train from Grand Central Terminal. "It was as close as I was willing to get to the city," he says.
In the library, a pendant light fixture by Ro Sham Beaux hangs above a table bought at a flea market; the sheepskin throw was purchased at a charity auction, and the painting, After Tintoretto, is by Kevin Burger; the bookshelves are custom made, and the brick replace surround is painted in Benjamin Moore Aura in Lookout Point.
There was not much available, especially since the town was starting to become a bucolic Hollywood of the North. Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, and Glenn Close all have homes in the area, along with such A-listers as Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, and the billionaire financier George Soros. "On my sixth visit, I asked the Realtor, 'Isn't there something else you can show me?'" Raisfeld says. "He said, 'Well, there is a house that just came onto the market, but it's a ranch and I think you would hate it. They haven't redone the bathrooms since the 1940s.'"
Audubon prints, an embroidery piece by Angelo Filomeno, and photographs by Abranowicz, Victor Schrager, Tom Baril, and George Tice, among others, line the walls of the gallery; the cabinet was found at auction.
"I thought, Really? I love old tile bathrooms," says Raisfeld, who insisted on visiting the listing right then and there. She arrived to find a homely and sprawling gray structure behind a stockade fence. Even finding the front door was a challenge—it was placed on the side of the house at the end of a meandering path. But then she went inside. "My grandmother used to tell me that when she tried on a dress that was right for her, she would feel her chest flush," Raisfeld says. "I felt that way when I walked into this house. It was like an Upper West Side prewar apartment with high ceilings and plaster walls. You could see past the carpeting, the heavy window shades, and the dog crates in the kitchen."
A custom-made cabinet and desk in the office; the table lamp is by Artemide, and the ceiling is stained fir.
Situated on three flat acres bordering a horse field, the house started out as a simple cabin that a Wall Streeter (nickname: Short Sell Smith) had moved onto the property, which was originally part of a working farm, in the 1920s. In the 1940s, a couple bought it and gradually made it bigger. They lived there for four decades.
Pendant lights by Produzione Privata hang above the marble-top kitchen counter, the bar chairs are by Thonet, and the table is custom made, as are the milk glass–lined cabinets; the backsplash tiles are by Waterworks.
By the time Abranowicz and Raisfeld got ahold of the house, it was in need of updating. They hired Holly Ross, a Westchester architect, to create a master plan. The work was done in phases, as the couple could afford it. A few years after the master bedroom renovation, Ross returned to create a new kitchen, with marble counters, cork floors, a soaring ceiling, and windows that wash light through the heart of the house. At the same time, she also gave the home's exterior a face-lift with a new Adirondack-style facade and a pergola inspired by Greece, where Abranowicz and Raisfeld spend time every summer. "It was a really fun project and a great dialogue between the three of us," Ross says. "They have a terrific sense of style, a wonderful eye, and they know exactly what they like."
In the master bedroom, the chandelier and bench, which is covered with blankets bought during a photo shoot in Bolivia, are flea-market finds, and the photographs are by Mark Klett; the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore Aura in Dune White, and the ceiling in Aura in Chalk White.
Eighteen years in a house can pass quickly. In that time, a home can become a family portrait—certainly this one has, with its art-filled living spaces and hallways lined with Abranowicz's black-and-white family pictures, taken year by year, of sons Zander and Simon, who have since grown up and moved out, and their youngest, daughter Max Athena, who leaves for college this fall.
The tub and fittings in the master bath are by Waterworks, and the floor tiles are from Ann Sacks.
The one thing that doesn't change is the constant pleasure they take from evenings spent—almost—under the stars. "We'll be out there," Raisfeld says, "until it's too cold to hold a book in your hands."
The screened porch’s collection of transferware plates was purchased at yard sales, the bedding is by John Robshaw, and the rocker is by Harry Bertoia; the walls are stained cedar.