Change is good.
That's Martha Stewart's motto, and last year she put it into action at her Bedford, New York, farmhouse, cleverly evolving several rooms to better suit her new at-home routines. The result: beautiful, comfortable spaces that are filled with things she loves, that function as well as they flow and that invite her to kick-start her day — and kick back at night.
Just like the rest of us, Martha spent much of last year at home, on her Bedford farm. But, no surprise, she rarely sat still. "I've been gardening like crazy," she says. "We redid the vegetable greenhouse and the chicken yards and coops. And the peacocks have new roosts, so they're happier."
Indoors, she wrote and Zoomed from a porch she converted into an office two years ago — and that got her rethinking her own roost. "I realized my house was designed for entertaining, not for me," she says. "I had two dining rooms I couldn't really use. I didn't have a comfortable place to sit and have breakfast. So Kevin Sharkey and I started reimagining and changing stuff." Luckily, she adds, "he likes doing this a lot more than I do."
Sharkey, who is an executive vice president and the executive creative director of design for her merchandising business, and a close friend, concurs. "Martha doesn't redecorate — she doesn't decorate either, really," he says. "It's always function first." Given the green light, he dove into the quarantine project of any design lover's dreams: shopping Martha's collections for stunning antiques, and brainstorming clever ways to put them to new and good use.
Pre-pandemic, the smaller dining room off the servery to the kitchen held a table for dinner parties, but it had become a de facto hallway. So Sharkey carved out two zones within it to give Martha a spot for breakfast and lunch, and a sitting area for virtual meetings (or a cocktail in the evening).
The main dining room — or the Brown Room — had sofas on one side and an 18-person table with views of the citrus garden on the other. Sharkey flipped the layout, placing the sofas by the windows. Then he reupholstered the cushions with thicker padding and — in a move Maria von Trapp would have appreciated — a set of vintage curtains Martha had found in West Palm Beach, Florida, made of an "extraordinary and durable" (in her words) damask by Fortuny. The finishing touch: a coffee-and-tea setup for her and her team, always at the ready on a sideboard. Now that spot is Martha's favorite place to unwind: "After I've been working hard in the kitchen on videos, I love to go lie down on those fabulous new cushions and put my feet up."
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