A French-Infused Historic Renovation

From on December 02, 2010 in Home Additions

french historic living room

Doug Turshen and Rochelle Udell are informed and inspired. From a quick decision to marry 30 years ago, after working together at Esquire and House & Garden, to their impulsive purchase of an 18th-century home in Ossining, New York, the couple could be considered massively impulsive.

But, considering their success on both fronts, there’s something to be said for the couple’s audacity. “We’ve always taken advantage of an informed moment,” Udell says. And it has served them well in their French-infused, beautifully intimate home recently featured on Elle Decor.

french historic decorfrench historic dining room

The house “best represents who we are,” Turshen says. An almost anomaly in the suburb that housed Richard Yates, John Cheever, and the fictional Drapers of Mad Men, the property includes a 1789 house that served as a hotel at one point.

Even the surrounding properties have been preserved and help make up the historic town of Ossining. In fact, the firm best known for the Empire State Building (Shreve, Lamb & Harmon) has even contributed to the aesthetics.

french historic bedroom remodelfrench historic entry

For their own renovation project, the couple hired architect Dick Bories and designer James Shearron, both of whom specialize in classic projects. Leaving the exterior as is, the two focused on the changes within. They worked to pare down the detail and create “a greater sense of luxury,” says Shearron.

french historic furniture

Spacious constraints informed their furniture choice and placement. They kept only what had meaning, including a Sarrinen dining table, a rococo wall clock, and entry tables that had belonged to Turshen’s grandmother. The rest ended up on eBay.

Books are their only obsession, now housed in built-in shelves throughout the house. In both aesthetics and the fact of this home’s (and their marriage’s) great success after such quick decisions is a testament to the couple’s great taste, or great luck—or both.

All photography by William Waldren