Inside a Historic Ossining Home: Doug Turshen and Rochelle Udell’s 18th-Century Georgian
The couple worked with designer James Shearron and architect Dick Bories to execute their contemporary aesthetic in a historic, circa-1789 red brick home.
Some things are just meant to be. Back in 2007, Doug Turshen and his wife, Rochelle Udell, were looking to downsize from their sprawling Greek Revival residence in Harrison where they had raised their two children. Turshen, who produces “coffee table” books featuring such prominent designers as Bunny Williams, Charlotte Moss, and Brian McCarthy (the subject of one of his nine books coming out this fall), says he and Udell had strolled by the 18th-century red-brick Georgian, which they now own, many times while out on walks near his parents’ apartment in Ossining. “I told my father, 'If that was for sale, I'd buy it,' and he telephoned me as soon as he saw the ‘For Sale’ sign,” says Turshen. “We bought it the next day.” Three months later, their realtor, who happens to live across the street from them, called to let them know about a newly listed 1780s remodeled saltbox Colonial adjacent to the couple’s home, which promptly became Turshen’s office.
Turshen and Udell, a former editor-in-chief at Self who is now the creative director at Chicos, immediately fell in love with the historic legacy of their home. Built in 1789, it actually served as a hotel through most of the 19th century. A curved addition was added in 1921 by the architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, which is best known for the Empire State Building. While the exterior of the home has been preserved almost in its entirety—with the exception of new-second story shutters and a custom-made lantern— the inside is a whole different story.
Working with designer James Shearron and architect Dick Bories, the couple set about making changes to the interior to pare down detail and add a more contemporary aesthetic. Nowhere is this more evident than in the kitchen and dining room. “The kitchen is completely remodeled, but, at the same time, fits into a 1700s house,” says Turshen, who loves to cook dishes such as double-cast-iron pan butterflied chicken, a recipe created by his daughter Julia Turshen, a cookbook writer who has worked with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali. The space also features a stainless-steel Viking range with convection oven, Sub-Zero refrigerator, black stone floors, and white and gray Arabascato marble countertops. While the kitchen is small, by widening up the door into the dining room, the design team was able to create the casual flow of a modern house.
About the dining room, Turshen says, “We spend more time here than anywhere else in the house. Since there’s no seating space in the kitchen, the dining room is where we hang out—eating meals, reading the paper, and playing cards with my mother.” The walls are paneled in quarter-sawn oak, and windowed doors were added to open to the spacious backyard. Anchoring the room is a marble-topped Saarinen dining-room table that once served as Udell’s desk during her 27-year tenure at Condé Nast, and the ceiling features an Alexander Calder-inspired mobile chandelier. These modern accents expertly blend with the room’s antique side tables that once belonged to Turshen’s grandmother and the home’s original fir floors.
The couple’s impeccable taste in mixing antique and modern furnishings continues in the living room, where hand-trowled plaster walls and a Rococo wall clock blend seamlessly with such mid-century classics as a Bertoia bird chair and ottoman and Eames plywood cocktail table. Pointing out the striped, stained floors, Turshen says, “I got the idea from Bunny Williams’s office and thought it would be perfect for our house.”
Almost everything from their former residence seems to flawlessly fit into their home, except the couple's book collection. “Rochelle measured all the linear feet of books we had in our old house so that we could make sure we planned for enough bookshelves here,” he says. Pointing to the piles of books that the couple has stacked on their living room table (and elsewhere in the house), he adds, “What we failed to take into account was that we hadn’t stopped buying books!”
Laura Joseph Mogil (lauramogil.com) is a freelance writer residing in Briarcliff Manor, NY. A frequent contributor to Westchester Home, she is hoping to find a priceless Eames chair for next to nothing at a local tag sale.