Tour a Suburban House With the Avant-garde Touches of a Brooklyn Apartment

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From M train to meadow.Photo: Martyn Thompson

Molly Findlay and her husband, Everard, and their two daughters, Isadora and Eleanor, were torn about leaving Brooklyn. But once they made up their minds — “we wanted to try a new adventure,” Findlay says, and a favorite café, Zebulon, had just gone out of business — they decided to seize the opportunity to “invent a world of our own making, à la Team Zissou.” You do get the feeling that the family of hero-creatives in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic might have gone for the house that the Findlays ended up with: a 1918 seven-bedroom in Nyack with multiple porches where no two rooms are alike. “We both loved it immediately,” Molly says. After they fixed a lot of broken windows, refinished the floors, and began hacking away at the overgrown grounds, it was basically fine.

Soon enough, though, they decided to intervene in the house a little more deeply, on the advice of a Thai Buddhist–monk friend who briefly lived with them. “He advised us to help all the spirits move along and make space for the new inhabitants,” Molly says. (Another friend, a shaman, “came along astrally to help them move to the light.”) The new décor took the form of neither quasi-period furniture nor hard modernist geometry. Instead, everything’s soft. The rooms have washes of sherbet color on the walls and squishy, family-friendly décor. In the living room, pink neon lighting glows over Mrs. Noodle Pillow, a set of upholstered soft tubes (of Findlay’s own design), 90 feet long altogether, that can be configured in myriad ways. (It holds the center of the room, with two more-conventional couches nearby.)

Certain aspects of suburban life took adjustment. The upkeep of the five-acre grounds was more than they were used to. But it’s become a family activity: Molly and Everard’s eldest daughter, Isadora, has become an avid beekeeper (très Brooklyn!), and the trees on the property have become members of the family, as everyone has studied up on the various types and their properties. Their appreciation of the creative community in Nyack even encouraged the Findlays to establish an artists’ organization called Mother of Thousands. (Everard describes it as “doing infrastructural advocacy,” meaning that it brings artists and scientists and people in other lines of work together for special projects, akin to artistic Happenings.) Leaving town also had one unexpected effect: “The move has invigorated our relationship with New York in a way. We actually go out more in New York City now to specific events, and friends come here for sleepovers.” Spirits out; guests in.

*This article appears in the Winter 2017 issue of New York Design Hunting.