Inside an Eclectically Traditional Home All the Way Upstate

A love letter from daughter to late mother, the two having embarked on this design project together.
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Decorator Hollis Puig takes tea in the family room. Photographs by Rikki Snyder, Styled by Frances Bailey.

My mother, Barbara Atkins Puig, was the embodiment of elegance and class, a force of nature who celebrated whimsy and joy and made the impossible possible. She was our Alice, and we lived in Wonderland every day. But her life, much like the home she and I designed together, was left unfinished when she suddenly passed away in April 2020. Despite my grief and feelings of devastation and loss, I was determined to follow her lead and finish the project we had started—to make the impossible possible.

The story of Turner Lane, our new family home, had begun over Thanksgiving in 2018. My eldest sister and I had left the nest, and my parents were faced with a major lifestyle decision: Whether to stay in the home my mother had carefully crafted over the course of 30 years, or to set out on a new adventure. When I broached the topic of downsizing, she scoffed at the idea, claiming to “know every home in this town” (Loudonville, New York, just outside Albany). In her 64 years, she had hardly known any other Zip Code.

Despite her conviction, I was certain that there was something out there for us, and a deep dive on Zillow turned up the ideal diamond in the rough: a brick home with a circular driveway and a long private drive—the three things she had always wanted most, before she put her heart and soul into our rambling white Cape. Unassuming and dated-looking, the property had been languishing on the MLS for months, but to me, it was as if it had just been patiently sitting there, waiting for us to come in and save it. Within a week, Turner Lane was ours.

While it was being taken down to the studs, my beloved Barbie (as I affectionately called my mother) and I were bursting at the seams with ideas and stocking up on samples. But shortly after moving into Turner Lane, which was still unfinished but habitable, my mother died tragically from a fall in the home that was supposed to be the next chapter of our lives. Much like the house, I felt gutted and taken down to the studs. The only way I was able to work through my grief was by completing her dream home: sophisticated, yet approachable; whimsical, yet not juvenile; eclectic, but not unintentional.

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The formal sitting room includes curtains made from a Schumacher fabric and a leopard-print rug from Patterson Flynn. Photographs by Rikki Snyder, Styled by Frances Bailey.

An art and history enthusiast, Barbara was an avid collector (tole, antique Santas, Staffordshire, Hudson River School canvases—the list goes on) and had always wanted to live in a “jewel box,” so I channeled that desire in every room, adding my more modern, maximalist spin. I wallpapered a powder room in Scalamandré’s iconic Venetian Carnival and commissioned decorative artist Anita Medina to paint a “circus tent” ceiling that would draw the eye upward and leave guests in awe.

In the primary bedroom, I got rid of a closet and created an alcove for the bed, which allowed space for a beloved writing desk that my mother used for her correspondence. Effortlessly chic, Barbara owned an extensive collection of Hermès scarves, the most magnificent of which I had framed for a bedroom wall, where my father could see it each morning. The frame needed to be unique and distinguished, so I chose a Brunschwig & Fils faux-bois wallpaper to use as the mat and a bespoke maple frame with 22k-gold detailing and a brass fillet. I have seen many framed scarves, and I was intent on this one being unlike any other.

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The primary bedroom features sconces from Circa Lighting. The framed Hermès scarf belonged to Puig’s late mother.Photographs by Rikki Snyder, Styled by Frances Bailey.

Pieces that my mother had commissioned soon started arriving by post, poignant and bittersweet. In February 2020, we had attended NYNOW at the Javits Center, where my mother fangirled in the presence of sculptor Tommy Mitchell, who made four custom tole pieces. Two of them are botanical confections with leaves that perfectly match those in Scalamandré’s newly reissued Colony in Aprile, which now covers the dining room chairs. I burst into tears as I unwrapped the sculptures and held them up to the fabric. Like my mother, they were perfect. The home was ready for its big reveal exactly one year to the day after her passing.

Without my mother’s keen eye, design acumen, and unrelenting encouragement, I would not have a career in design, nor such a passion for it. Even when I was very young, she spent hours poring over design books with me, tearing out pages of magazines, and getting me my own binder (I was six) for all my inspiration photos for the rooms I would design in the future. She often called me out of school so that we could “play hooky,” attending antiques shows and designer showhouses, and our annual pilgrimage to Brimfield was the highlight of every year. My mother’s mantra was “Elegance is not about being noticed, it is about being remembered.” And I cannot think of a better way for her to be remembered than through the rooms of Turner Lane.

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A chandelier and sconces from the Federalist shed light on the dining room. Photographs by Rikki Snyder, Styled by Frances Bailey.

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Loving Legacy.