If you ever check into upstate New York rental This Old Hudson, there's one thing you should never say to the owner and creative, Anthony D'Argenzio. "I don't ever want to have a space where people walk in and are like, 'I have all the same furniture!'" he says. Fortunately, there's virtually no risk of that happening in the stunning two-story historic home. It only takes a glimpse inside to realize it's a passion project for husband-and-wife duo Anthony and Hillary, founders of creative firm Zio & Sons.
Built in 1915, the home was the perfect foundation for D'Argenzio to put his unique skills to work. "When I look at interiors, I think of composition—how is it going to look in a photo, and how does the light change this room?" says the prop stylist, antique collector, and creative director. Every room is curated with unique, textured finds, and you'd be hard-pressed to spot any of the furniture in a catalog.
It's time to toss out the conventional interior design rulebook. Ahead, D'Argenzio takes us on a tour of This Old Hudson and shares the secrets for styling a truly individual home.
Master the Mix
While it only took a year to renovate and decorate the upstairs space and six months for the lower level, D'Argenzio says they'd been collecting the furniture and artwork for years. Taking a slow, intentional approach to decorating means every item in the home tells a story. "People are often rushed when they're designing a space, so they buy all new furniture, and there's a lack of soul," he says. "For me, it's all about the balance and learning to mix. Take your time with adding layers—there's no need to rush."
One particular purchase that shouldn't be rushed is art. In the entryway, D'Argenzio styled a collection of antique oil paintings, all portraits. "You don't have to spend a lot of money to find great art. I love going to garage and antique sales," he says.
Rethink a Gallery Wall
Consider yourself a commitment-phobe when it comes to decorating? Sub a predictable gallery wall for a picture rail. "We didn't want to punch holes in the wall after we'd plastered it, so we installed a picture rail. It means that we don't have to redo the gallery wall every time we want to change it," he points out. When photographing the space, D'Argenzio experimented with the art positioning until he felt it was "just right."
Experiment With Texture
D'Argenzio describes their aesthetic as "vintage minimalist," which adheres to a neutral color palette. "Our style is very old-world vintage-inspired. We love homes with traditional bones but brought to life with a modern touch."
Decorating with white, gray, and taupe shades doesn't have to sacrifice character, though. To avoid a stark space, the duo recommends focusing on texture, rather than color. "It's a matter of trying to stay in the same color feeling but making it more visually compelling with texture," he says. "It's such a white space, but we have so many different types of wood and materials. The walls are plaster, and the ceiling has wainscot—even the kitchen backsplash tile has distinctive grout lines." Subtle color changes, such as painting the inside of a cabinet one shade darker than the exterior, adds personality. "All those subtle variations come together as seamless," he says.
Start With a Hero Piece of Furniture
If you're unsure how to approach a design project as ambitious as This Old Hudson, D'Argenzio recommends starting with a hero piece of furniture. "We started with the dining room table to anchor the room," he says of the 10-foot reclaimed wood piece in the upstairs unit. While it wasn't perfect in its original state, the couple worked to have it altered to fit the specs of their room.
"The top of the table is from a barn not too far from Hudson, but it was working height," he says. "We kept the top because we loved it so much, then had the bottom custom-built." His number one lesson? Don't abandon furniture you love. "You can always alter or re-create something. Just because it doesn't work doesn't mean it's broken. Make it your own!"
Question the Function of Each Space
There's no doubt that aesthetics played a major role in the couple's design decisions, but D'Argenzio stresses that function is crucial too. When designing the bathroom layout, he couldn't understand why traditional tubs have a showerhead that extends from the side. "It means you're crammed in the front when you're showering," he says. "So, we had the piping moved so there's a range shower effect over this beautiful old-world tub. I wanted it to be functional and beautiful but still be enjoyable to use."
Mix and Match Tiles
Never one to follow convention, D'Argenzio also experimented with the size and color of tiles in the bathroom. "Utilizing different shapes and materials with two-tone tiles means you can still get a high-end custom look," he says, referencing the square and subway tiles they combined. "You can get a really curated look with inexpensive materials at Home Depot."
The small bedroom would have been a decorating challenge for most, but D'Argenzio admits it's his specialty. "Small spaces are my jam. The challenge is making it look big, without clutter," he says, noting the most common mistake is over-styling.
When designing the bedroom, the pair questioned every furniture choice. Bedside lamps were removed in place of a soft overhead light, and they had side tables custom-made to maximize the blank walls on either side. "They're super space-saving and not at all bulky," he says of the custom-made ledges from Etsy. "If I can't find something, I usually have it made. It's about function then design." Striking that balance is certainly easier said than done. Fortunately, when you have an eye like Anthony D'Argenzio, it's effortless.