Inside the Waccabuc Home of Interior Designer June Goldfinger



June Goldfinger says nothing in her home is too precious: “If it’s here, it’s all going to be lived with.”

It’s hard to know where to look first when entering Myron and June Goldfinger's Waccabuc home. That’s because this modern, 2,500-square-foot wonder is filled to the brim with artwork from a variety of eras, styles, and mediums.

The first sense you’re not in Kansas anymore: a whimsical pig-cycle (picture a bicycle shaped like a pig that’s the size of a small horse) that greets you at the front door and serves as a coatrack. Another step into the house and your eyes are drawn to fanciful African masks, giant wooden snakes, a glamour photograph of Jackie O, a circa-1950s barber chair, a shelf lined with birdhouses made by a guy who literally lived in a bus, and a basket of handmade straw brooms that look like something out of Goldilocks (they are handmade in Anguilla). Another eye-catcher: a vintage, three-by-four-foot, mixed-media, folk-art circus June found in Rio de Janeiro, complete with an audience (wind it up and they clap!), a trapeze artist who teeters, and a monkey that swings. “It’s my granddaughter’s favorite toy,” she says.

The first floor living space is filled with a variety of June's favorite items.

And that’s just a small portion of the first floor. There are three more floors to go—all of which feature collections more interesting than the next, with a heavy emphasis on folk art (furniture as well as artifacts) and traditional indigenous pieces. Climb another flight of stairs (all the staircases are spiral), and you’ll find June's collection of Navajo silver belts, all of which she wears. Down another flight, you’ll see pieces of Myron’s old train sets, many of which date to the 1930s (and which he acquired as an adult). In June's office, there are a series of black-and-white photos by noted photographer David Michael Kennedy featuring Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Willie Nelson, and even Myron, while in another room are large African puppets and paintings by Greek artist George Constant, just steps away from a Dogon mask from Africa, wooden porcupines by Santa Fe carver Miguel Rodriguez, a red-and-white barber pole from Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a cheetah-cycle, and an 1896 sign from a building in Katonah that the Goldfingers own. There’s even a Picasso…somewhere. June admits it’s been years since they’ve been able to find it. (It’s also possible it’s in another one of the Goldfingers’ properties—they own five homes and are also known for designing boutique resorts in the Caribbean.)

A George Constant painting on the far left hangs next to a 1896 sign from a building the Goldfingers own in Katonah.

Each piece has its own story, often from a trip the couple has taken together (or apart), as well as some funny anecdotes along the way. Like the time June carried a two-foot-tall Ferris wheel made of found galvanized metal under her skirt on a trip from Chicago to New York because she didn’t want to have it go with her checked luggage. “Myron and I came to each other with various collections and we haven’t stopped since,” she says.

The unusual assortment—and June’s relaxed attitude—matches the home’s quirky disposition. Set deep on 10 wooded acres, the 42-year-old home was designed by Myron and sight unseen by June until move-in day (she gave him carte blanche and said she’d fill in the rest). It has the look of a Cubist painting set amidst rock outcroppings and trees. It’s not unusual, in fact, to be met on the driveway by a family of deer grazing in the woods or a rabbit out for a stroll.

The one-handed man with a gun came from a collection in South Africa.

Thanks to numerous windows, skylights, and walls of glass, nature is as much a force to be reckoned with as the artwork inside, bathing each room in the brilliant shades of Mother Nature’s moods. But what really makes the home special—some might say “atypical”—is the erratic layout, with the kitchen on the second floor and the three bedrooms on the third and fourth. To mix it up even more: there are four floors on one side of the house, three on the other, and a glassed-in, second-floor dining room that suspends in the middle (Myron describes this as a “greenhouse bridge”). The dining room connects the “main house” to the part of the house known as “the studio,” where June's office is.

“Everyone loves being in our dining room because at night, it’s lit up like a magnificent spaceship,” she says. “It’s wonderful to see when you’re driving up the road; it’s like a mirage on the horizon with light streaming out of it, welcoming you home.”
Another unusual aspect to the home is the fact that there’s no traditional front door—just a large, sliding-glass partition. There’s also a guest house on the premises, where one of their two daughters lives with her family, as well as two large ponds.

Bursts of colorful art are found in every nook and cranny.

Glamour shot of Jackie O; the Goldfinger home with its “greenhouse bridge” dining room as a focal point.

Though June admits her friends often call this architectural haven “the museum residence,” she prefers to refer to it as “a serious fun house.” Yes, there are a ton of valuable museum pieces, many by artists whose works hang in the Met, the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, and even the Louvre and the Smithsonian, but they are not hidden behind elaborate displays. Instead, they’re out in the open—on shelves, side tables, cushions, benches, breakfronts, and walls—for viewing, enjoying, and, yes, even touching. In fact, the couple’s 8-year-old granddaughter, Eva, has the run of the place, so much so that, in one room, you’ll find one of her plastic toy lizards next to a one-of-a-kind Buccellati sterling chameleon.

June is also big on cooking—she and Eva are, in fact, working on a cookbook together—and says she never wants the kind of show house where people aren’t comfortable eating and drinking without worrying about spilling or dripping or knocking into anything. “This is home,” says June. “It’s meant to be lived in and enjoyed.”

The breakfront is filled with plates from a seafood restaurant (now closed), in Atlantic City.

The circus, a favorite piece of artwork of Goldfinger’s granddaughter, Eva, will eventually be donated to the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe.

The greenhouse dining room; note the 100-year-old ceremonial African mask on the far right.

Black and white photographs of Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, and other celebrities, taken by photographer David Michael Kennedy hang in June's office.

June’s often worn Navajo silver belt collection.

Myron's vintage train collection and a blue heron by Santa Fe artist Miguel Rodriguez.

 

 

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