Home: Reflections from the Hammertown Family

“Home. The place that helps us to define how we see ourselves and how we choose to make our way in the world—the blueprint of our lives.”

John Edwards, from his book THE BLUEPRINT OF OUR LIVES

Joan’s homestead in AncramdaleAs the owner of Hammertown, I have always had a passion for home decorating. To me, however, the word “decorating” doesn’t seem to suffice as I believe the art of making a house into a home is something much more than choosing pieces that go together and placing them into the rooms of your home. Our homes are a reflection of ourselves and how we choose to decorate them is truly an expression of what we feel is important in life.

For me, the idea of home decorating as a form of creative expression came early in life. I can still remember the basement in the suburban New Jersery house where I was raised. It was here that my need to nest and create my own space began. I transformed the dreary subterranean room into a classroom using bits and pieces of left over items from my parent’s domain upstairs. I would pretend to play school with my dolls and my friends, but more importantly I made a little home away from home for myself and really took pride in what I had accomplished. I also fondly remember my first apartment in
Portland, Maine. A newlywed, I transformed the tiny kitchen with bright yellow paint and a pegboard. I organized and hung all my new pots and gadgetson it, and learned to cook with inspiration from Julia Child and The New York Times Cookbook. A few years later I returned to suburban New Jersey where a charming Dutch Colonial became the home in which my children spent their first decade of life. The bay window filled with plants suspended by macramé hangers I made myself (am I dating myself?) and the kitchen cabinets we lovingly stripped of layers of paint, were my pride and joy.

As I sift through all the years and memories, I always return to the idea of home and
how important mine was to me. My love of design, antiques, color and style were a
part of me, and they helped define my “self”. I spent hours looking through magazines,
haunting antique stores and building my “own” style. Taking the blank canvas of a new
house and slowly filling it with all the bits and pieces that make it a unique reflection of
me and my family – that is something I have always loved to do. My move to Pine Plains
brought with it what was to become a very special home to me and my family. A historic
Greek Revival house with hand-planed paneled rooms, 5 fireplaces, old wide board
floors, and abounding charm – it was the house of my dreams! All my hours of thought,
reading and research would be put to the test with this house…I would fill it with my
collections, seek out new pieces and create a beautiful home together with my family.

Together we did just that. The colonial home has hosted a variety of family celebrations,
seen both my children off to college and back and even served as a bed and breakfast for a few special years. While I no longer live there, the stately colonial was a wonderful home for my family and the place that truly inspired me to open Hammertown. The barn on the property, which housed only horse stalls and hay, would bring about the beginning of what became my career and years of continuing inspriration.

The evolution of Hammertown Barn, is to me much like the evolution of any home. Over time you collect different things to make your home a unique reflection of your
evolving tastes, and over time Hammertown has served as a clear reflection of what I feel
can help make a home beautiful and unique. Each year trends and styles change, but I
feel strongly that good style is never a outdated. Certain elements may come in and out
of fashion, but the items I choose for the store are ones I feel can stand the test of time
and survive the trends. That said, the stenciled walls and country décor that abounded in
1985 are no longer the overarching style here at Hammertown. If you look though our vast collection, you can still find bits and pieces of that colonial style that forms the heart of who we are. What I love so much about creating a home is the idea that the same piece can take on a truly unique look depending on its surroundings. I put this theory to the test when, after 15 years, our family moved to a new home in Ancramdale.

As Hammertown grew, it became more and more difficult for me to separate from my work. The midnight trips out to the store in my PJ’s were taking their toll and the house at Hammertown seemed a logical place for future expansion. Just minutes away from the Barn, our new house was quite different from the one that wehad called home for so long. The smaller spaces of the Greek Revival were replaced by cathedral ceilings and open rooms of a modern farmhouse. Even still, it was love at first site for me and I welcomed the change.

Here is where the story takes a turn. As excited as I was about our move, the nesting and settling in that used to take over my soul when I entered a new space, were absent. It took months for a picture to be hung, years before I would take a sincere interest in finding new homes for all my treasured antiques and furnishings. Upon reflection I can
see why. The move took place at a time a great personal change for me. My business was
growing and I was swamped with work. Personally things were in upheaval as well, and it
was not until the dust settled that I was able to give myself to the process of transforming
this wonderful house into my new home.

Once the process began however, it has been nothing but fun for me. Moreover, it is the
first home I have built on my own – as a successful, single woman whose style and “soul”
have matured with life’s rich experience. I created an adorable bedroom and nursery for
my granddaughters. I used Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture to ground the family
room and kitchen, accenting with antiques from my collection as well as new items I has
discovered while buying for Hammertown. In the dining room, my lifelong collection
of Tole trays looks wonderful above a loved antique French farmhouse table and in my
bedroom, a Dez Ryan original lamp represents a more modern turn in my country style.
Even today as I sit in writing this article, I am considering new pieces that will enhance
my home and make it more, “me”.

Creating a home is an ongoing process and this inspires us at Hammertown. Your home
should look like you’ve collected things over time and it has organically evolved and grown. Hammertown is not just a group of stores that you can shop in; it is a place that you can go and dream. Sit down on a beautiful sofa, explore vignettes filled with mixtures of the old and the new, the exotic and the traditional, the yin and yang….you can let your mind explore, and see what will work in your own home. Whether it be your kitchen, family room, home office, your kid’s room, etc. – the dreams never end, and in this day of generic shopping and internet exploration, Hammertown is the real thing!


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