Trained chef, floral designer, fine artist, and general lover of the domestic arts, Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo of ABCD Designs is a woman of many talents. Having settled into a career as the author of her lifestyle site, as well as being an interior stylist and floral designer, Dragoo and her husband decided to leave the hustle and bustle of big city life in 2009, when they sold their SoHo loft with ideas of the easy living that a country house could provide.
The couple purchased a property in the hills of Litchfield, Connecticut, for weekends away and rented a small postage stamp-sized apartment in New York City for the workweek. Dragoo quickly adapted to country living: space, sunrises and sunsets, and the passing of seasons—something she never saw as a Manhattan resident—and has preferred to reside in the country ever since. A mix of vintage (hers) and contemporary (his)—“I refer to my husband as Mr. Design Within Reach”—pieces harmonize in the Shaker-style home, creating a relaxing retreat that’s not totally devoid of big city sensibilities.
In addition to the main house, the property features three smaller barns, two of which serve as office space and storage for her husband's collection of road bikes. The last barn is their television-watching space, which houses the only TV on the property.
Though the interiors of the home feel contemporary, the space is decorated almost entirely with vintage pieces. “I shop mostly vintage because it is often a higher quality than what I would be able to afford in today’s market,” the interior stylist shares. “There is a lot of expensive, poorly made furniture in the marketplace right now.”
When it comes to decorating, Dragoo opts for longevity over trends. "I believe you should buy it once, in the best quality you can afford,” she says. “I have had it with disposable furniture that will end up in a landfill in a few years’ time. Sourcing vintage is the best way to get amazing quality without spending a ton of money.”
When decorating her country home, Dragoo took cues from Mother Nature. “I was inspired by the colours you see during winter in northwest Connecticut,” she says. “Black, grey, brown, pale blue, and stark white. By the time I added art, rugs, and scatter pillows, the vibe changed a bit, but if you stripped all of my furniture out of here, you’d see only neutrals.”
Large-scale windows in the ground floor's main living space flood the interior with natural light to brighten the dark tones seen on the living room's walls and upholstery.
"I collect things I love to look at—they can seriously be tourist-trap junk, but if they are collected and displayed en masse, they are elevated to another level,” shares Dragoo. “Display them all together, behind glass, and they gain importance. It almost looks like an art installation."
“I am not the sort of person who goes out and buys all new furniture when I move to a new place,” the homeowner says. “There are pieces that have been with me my entire adult life. I love the challenge of thinking about how different shapes and scales relate to one another."
To capitalise on the gorgeous view of the yard and grounds that the living room affords, Dragoo got creative. “I installed a grid of large mirrors to mimic the window on the opposite wall to enhance the light and colour in the room,” the stylist shares. “It almost looks like a window itself!”
Wide doorways connect the rooms on the ground floor to create a feeling of openness which is echoed by the home's numerous windows.
"One of my favourite things in our house is the plaster walls upstairs and in the dining room,” Dragoo says. “The combination of sand, wood chips, and trowel marks give the walls a really nice rustic feel. I think it brings a good balance to our more modern high-gloss white floors."
"Most college students save up their money for spring break and alcohol,” Dragoo says. “I used to save up for Limoges snuff boxes and vintage posters.”
“I burn taper candles at breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” the stylist tells us. “I really enjoy the light and smell from a burning candle.”
“They always say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and in this case, it truly is,” says Dragoo. “I like that you’ve got access to every room on the lower level from the kitchen’s open doors. It’s got great flow, especially for entertaining.”
A grouping of collected artwork hangs above the sink to contrast with the kitchen's more contemporary elements.
Black hardware seamlessly blends into the painted cabinetry to keep the focus on the contrast between the dark cabinets and the white counters, wall tile, and flooring.
“This is why I will never live in NYC full-time again,” Dragoo says when speaking of her laundry room and pantry. “I have been spoiled! To have everything I need to throw an appetizer, cakes, cocktails, or dinner together within arm’s reach is truly a pleasure after years of schlepping a day’s worth of groceries home each night.”
An airy, Gustavian vibe in the mudroom makes the space feel sophisticated, despite its purpose. “It is quite possibly the least muddy mudroom ever,” quips the stylist.
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Woven baskets under a vintage settee supply extra, semi-hidden storage.
A vibrant painting contrasts with the stark minimalism of the staircase's design.
Upstairs, a second living space offers a welcome retreat. “This is such an unexpected room to come upon when you reach the top of the steps,” Dragoo says. “Despite the double-height peaked ceiling, it’s an incredibly intimate space.”
A mix of materials and textures warms up the mostly monochromatic space.
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Colourful yarn is stored under a glass coffee table for a surprising and unexpected jolt of colour.
“The colour palette is very easy to live with, no matter what season it is,” the stylist says. “On a cold winter night, I love to bring supper upstairs and eat at the partner desk with a fire roaring."
The dark and moody master bedroom is a calming, cocoon-like space where the towering tufted headboard coordinates with the wall colour to create an all-encompassing feeling.
“In the spring and summer it feels cool and relaxing,” says Dragoo of the bedroom. “In the fall and winter it feels cosy, like a mountain lodge.”
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A decidedly uncharming detail about the home was its lack of storage. "Our house only had one, 36-inch-wide closet by the front door when we bought it,” Dragoo shares. “There were no closets in the bedrooms or any other place in the house.” To provide a place to store clothing and other collections not suited for display, Dragoo added shallow closets with Shaker-style doors in the master bedroom, the mudroom, and the second-floor living space.
In the small guest room, the stylist opted for a classic decor trick to visually enlarge the space. “I used a huge mirror on the wall to open the space up a bit,” Dragoo tells us. “No matter where you are in the room, it is reflecting the two windows on opposite walls and helps tremendously.”
The room’s canopy bed has been with the homeowner her entire adult life. “It’s a piece of art, made by a man in Chicago, that I will always have in my home,” she shares. “I dream of treating the metal and using it on a sleeping porch one day.”
"This house is the perfect little homestead nestled on a country road next door to a fruit farm,” Dragoo says of the couple’s home. “I can walk up the road and pick up fresh fruit to bake into homemade desserts or to top our morning oatmeal—it is idyllic."
Sprawling gardens, multiple charming barns, and chic interiors where history and love is palpable make this country home an idyllic retreat indeed.
Do you ever feel like leaving it all and retreating to the country? Tell us where you’d like to escape to below!