Designer Profile: Katonah’s Shiela Hale

A Westchester artist and furniture deisgner shares her story.

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I’ve loved books since I was a child—I read them, I alter them, I build with them,” says Katonah resident Shiela Hale. Hale has combined her passion for books with her exceptional talents as an artist and furniture designer to create everything from a patented bookshelf to pieces of art fashioned from shredded and altered texts. Her recently remodeled home is a gallery of her artwork and designs, which blend perfectly with the modern and minimalist furnishings she has purchased to create a home radiating with style and innovation.

Hale describes her home, which was built in the 1950s, as a “farm-ranch hybrid.” When she first moved in 36 years ago, she didn’t think she would be there for long. “I considered it a first house, which would lead to designing and building the next one,” she says. But even after her three children moved out, Hale stayed put—and instead of downsizing, opted to add on. She turned two of her home’s five bedrooms into an “inner studio,” where she creates much of her artwork. Then, from 2006 to 2008, Hale embarked on a major construction project, adding 1,000 square feet to her home. She also added an “outer studio,” where she does her carpentry work, as well as a family room over the garage. 

Recently, Hale has begun to focus on the details and furnishings, mixing her own designs and artwork with a smattering of store-bought pieces. In her L-shaped living room/dining room, the back wall is taken over by floor-to-ceiling shelves that Hale created to accommodate her ever-accumulating collection of books. The shelves are enhanced with painted wooden columns designed in a tree motif. As is often the case, she admits, “I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, so I ended up making them myself.”

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