Ten years ago, after an upstate sojourn between city leases, designer John Mahoney decided to settle down for good in his 18th-century Hudson Valley weekend home located in a quiet town about 12 miles east of Hudson’s boutique- and restaurant-lined streets. “Hudson has changed drastically in the last ten years, but I live in a very rural setting that is still all farms and small homes,” says John, a fine artist by trade who made the move to applied art in 2004 with the launch of John Mahoney Designs, a coveted line of Eastern-influenced textiles, tufted rugs, and graphic wallpaper. “There have been very little changes here.”
Originally a one-room schoolhouse dating to 1789, the home has managed to retain a small footprint with an airy entry hall, open living space and kitchen, master bedroom, and an attic studio. And while window views are of an unchanging rural landscape made up of woodlands and working farms, inside, John’s house is continually in motion, from the artwork on the walls to the layout of the furniture. “My interior style is always evolving because life is always changing, so the environment has to change with it,” he says. Constant throughout the house, however, is John’s fondness for violet shades, bold metallics, graphic prints, and, of course, all things Japanese.
A self-confessed Japanophile, John has traveled extensively across the country, speaks conversational Japanese, and is an avid collector of both distinctive Japanese kokeshi dolls and of katagami, paper stencils used for dyeing textiles. “There’s such an art to their creation,” he explains, “they have to be as strong and utilitarian as they are beautiful.” It is an observation that could also describe his home, where every inch of space serves a purpose, where function and design go hand in hand. “As a small house, it has to work hard and adapt to the seasons. In the summer, I move furniture around to make space to open the French doors, and in winter, I bring chairs closer to the stove, find storage for firewood, and layer and remove rugs as the weather dictates.”