Photography by Martyn Thompson
“Our home can be a little bit disarming when you approach it at first,” says Molly Findlay about the Italianate estate she and her husband, Everard Findlay, share in the lower Hudson Valley. “But once people walk in, they feel at ease and welcome.” Findlay is a set designer and prop stylist, which, in her words, means “working with false spaces.” Originally from the Mojave Desert, she began her career as a fashion assistant at Harper’s Bazaar (where she worked closely with photographers like Patrick Demarchelier and Richard Burbridge), but she switched gears and decided to focus on prop styling — a job she still does today and describes as “working with compositions, which I like a lot.” And every shoot she works for clients like Gucci, Nike, and Sephora has helped inform her home décor POV.
The Findlays’ house is in Upper Nyack, a 45-minute commute from Manhattan. “It’s really quiet here but attracts all sorts of people — especially artists and entrepreneurs who don’t need to go into the city every day,” she says. “We kept our place in Williamsburg, but after over 10 years there, we decided to move somewhere with more trees,” she says, referring to her Trinidad-born husband, Everard, whose company specializes in branding and development, and her two daughters, Isadora, 8, and Eleanor, 4.
Findlay says the transition has been a happy one, but the family has had to learn to master the “rural arts.” The home is situated on 5 acres of land, and, luckily for them, only minimal work was required to move in. Inside, no two rooms are alike: Their living room radiates a neon pink light, while the “kid room” next door, where food is forbidden, is made for arts and crafts. “Let me tell you, though, the transition wasn’t easy for me and my family,” she says. After some getting used to, the family finally feels like the house is a home. “I can’t thank my husband enough for giving me free rein to do what I want with this place. He’s really put up with a lot.”
“I come up with concepts for furniture, which integrate sculpture and design, and work with artisans to bring the pieces to life,” Findlay says. Case in point: “Mrs. Noodle Pillow,” 40-foot-long pillows intertwined to create a giant sofa allowing for five or six people to recline at once. It was her idea, but she had a local artisan execute her vision.
One thing that unites the DNA of her home is the use of color — something she’s not afraid to play with. “I have an emotional approach to color,” she says. “I don’t have any rules, per se. I just wait until something feels good and clicks into place. I’m not afraid of it and I like to play outside of the lines.” All in all, her motto remains the same. “We like to approach the rooms as though they are installations — the furniture is utilitarian but sculptural. Everything is designed to be enjoyed, jumped on, and played with.”
Despite her exquisite taste and the formality of the house, Findlay has a relaxed approach about it all. She recently set up a scavenger hunt for 15 kids in the house and let them run free. “To Everard and me, that’s what’s important to us — nothing is too precious and everything should be played with.” Here, Findlay takes us on a tour of her home.
We asked Findlay to tell us her favorite local design sources and what she finds in each place:
— Mother of Thousands for original pieces
— Nazmiyal Collection for rugs
— The OUTSIDE IN gallery in Piermont, N.Y., for ceramics
— Sweet William for stuffed animals
— Litchfield County Auctions for strange finds.
— De Vera for museum-quality ephemera
— Paula Rubenstein Ltd. in New York City for textiles and objects
— Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck for sheepskins and wool rugs
— Guerra Paint & Pigment (for ambitious ones who want to mix their own colors); otherwise Farrow & Ball or Fine Paints of Europe