Designer Darren Henault Hideaway in Hudson Valley – In the abstract, the idea of a 53-acre Christmas-tree farm with a reasonably intact 1800 farmhouse in the Hudson Valley sounds utterly charming. The reality of transforming such a picturesque spread into a gracious family compound geared for 21st-century life is another matter altogether.
For the past 12 years, interior designer Darren Henault and his husband, attorney Michael Bassett, have moved, well, if not heaven, then mountains of earth to create their sanctuary in the Arcadian hamlet of Millbrook, New York. The process involved a dramatic overhaul of the sprawling landscape, architectural additions and upgrades, and plenty of good, old-fashioned decorating. But first, there were the conifers.
“We had to relocate about 3,000 trees,” Henault recalls, laughing at the scope of the undertaking. “The idea was to return the back fields to something closer to their natural state. So we donated lots of trees to the town of Millbrook one Christmas, and we gave away as many as we could to our friends and anyone else who wanted to dig one up. We also kept about 500 trees and replanted them to form hedges, although we found out over time that certain evergreens don’t make brilliant hedges. It was exhausting,” he adds wryly.
Henault and Bassett collaborated with Janice Parker Landscape Architects of Greenwich, Connecticut, to reimagine the property as an eminently hospitable refuge for themselves, their two daughters—ten-year-old fraternal twins Bunny and Lulu—and the family’s frequent houseguests. “All of that open space was slightly overwhelming, so we broke it down into a series of variously defined outdoor rooms,” Henault explains, pointing to the apple orchard, flower garden, alfresco entertaining areas, and pool, all of which have been added since the couple acquired the land in 2006. Says Parker, “Our goal was to introduce the new elements in a way that weaves the existing and new landscapes together into a cohesive experience.”
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Source: architectural digest