After years of urban sophistication, living in New York, London and traveling the world, fashion designers Martin Cooper and Karen Suen-Cooper felt a call for more – more time, more space, more nature and more joy. They found it in an 18th-century federal-style farmhouse in the Hudson Valley that they had been renovating for the past fifteen years. Please join me and Susanna for a visit to Old Chatham in New York with this inspiring and creative couple.
As a busy fashion industry mavens (the first married couple to be admitted to CFDA ), Martin and Karen had international calendars filled with events and travel, but a visit to the rural district of Columbia sent them in search of a weekend spot. They fell in love with B’ellow (Big + yellow), their nickname for their soon return home, and two years later they embarked on a journey to delicately usher in the 21st century.
At the time, they had just moved to London for Martin’s new position as Burberry’s vice president and design director. There they found additional inspiration in centuries-old architecture and places like Sir John Soane Museum, a favorite among design cognoscents. Classic architectural details and rough mill works have become a foil for a fearless choice of colors and backgrounds for their personal collections.
During the renovation, their goal was deceptively simple – to rename their historic house into a home that at the same time respected the past, the flow of time and light, and their passion for entertainment.
When they moved permanently to B’ellow last year, they found themselves redefining their lives and enjoying time with friends and family, often eating in their divinely sensual black-painted dining room, inspired by trips to such memorable places as Lapérouse and Hotel Costes in Paris, Wolesley in London and Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.
Rooted hosts, Martin and Karen have always used postcards to honor their guests and accommodate them effortlessly, but finding interesting examples that met their strict design standards proved challenging and therefore The Punctilious Mr.P’s Place Card Co. born.
Including carefully curated images, the maps are beautifully printed on cotton rag paper, with the option of free digital calligraphy of the guests ’names on the back. And while the company started with place tickets, it expanded to other printed products such as menu cards, buffets, invitations, and personalized note cards (my elegant Birds of India below). They can even send a single personalized note to the recipient of your choice – so very handy for time-sensitive notes or thank-you notes, those with less than admiration, or those traveling.
And you need a modern but careful gift from a housewife? There are organic candles Mr. Well, made from soy wax and fragrant with essential oils
or their jams, lemon cheesecake or tea, handmade with all natural ingredients in small batches in the Hudson Valley. I have a feeling this is just the beginning for Mr. P. because Martin and Karen create more products that reflect their thoughtful life in the country and discriminatory style.
all photos of Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence
So thank you Karen, Martin and Pax for the most beautiful day and for bringing a little more joy into everyone’s homes!