Union in the News for July 21, 2005
Kate White '72 has home featured in 'Country Living'
By Kathleen Beckett - Country Living Magazine
After spending an invariably hectic week in New York City, Kate White and her family head to the country, as they have for 17 years, to unwind and spend time together as well as to pursue their personal passions. Kate loves gardening, but realized she didn't have time to plant more than a few herbs, which she tosses into dishes when she's cooking. So she created a garden inside, infusing the house with vibrant, nature-inspired hues ‑- apple green, lemon, eggplant and pumpkin. And while her husband, Brad Holbrook, and their kids, Hunter, age 17, and Hayley, age 15, love to play tennis on these weekends away, Kate's passion is books. She created places to read in each room, with comfortable chairs, cozy pillows and lots and lots of books, particularly poetry books. "Even if I have only five minutes," Kate admits, "I'll crack open Tennyson or Auden and read a poem ‑- it's a great little break." When the children were smaller, they would often curl up with her in the afternoon, everyone with their favorite book in front of the fire in winter, or by an open window or out on the porch come summertime. In the country, time expands.
Lemony yellow walls seem to glow within the context of the home's original wood beams and the burnished warmth of a c. 1800 church pew, transformed into a dining table by a local craftsman. Kate and Brad picked up the painting on a trip to Provence. It serves as inspiration. "We wanted that spirit in our home ‑- the beautiful smells, the great food, the sensuousness of that life," says Kate.
Character & Continuity
The house embraces all of Kate's priorities ‑- family, nature, books, color.
Kate loves vibrant color. She collaborated with Denny Daikeler, of North Wales, Pennsylvania, decorator and author of What Color Is Your Slipcover? (Rodale), to incorporate upbeat hues throughout the house. Denny's tips for color:
Paint all woodwork white, like the warm, high-gloss white in the living room. "It's a harmonizer," notes Denny, "and the same white throughout makes colors jewel-like."
Keep all colors the same intensity, such as the mango in the hall and apple green on the landing.
"No room stands alone," says Denny. For harmony, each room should also include accessories that incorporate the other colors used in the house.
The original farmhouse was considerably smaller. A thoughtful renovation and near-seamless addition blend the old with the new. Here's how:
Kate liked the original home, but it felt too enclosed. An abundance of windows was incorporated into the new design to let in more light.
The staircase in the original home is narrow. When it came time to install a new one, the family made sure the design was open and the proportions welcoming.
Porches were added to the first and second stories. The one off the living room has chairs for reading and enjoying the view.
Upstairs, a white-on-white scheme creates an airy, restful master bedroom. Its cheetah-printed wicker chair and ottoman offer another nook for reading. French doors open to a porch that overlooks views, such as one of an old farm wagon, and vistas that stretch for miles. The expanse of windows also lets in the sounds of nature. Says Kate, "It's like being in a tree house. We don't have any air conditioning, just ceiling fans. At night I prop myself up against the headboard and listen to the symphony of crickets."
Cherished days in the country offer time to refuel. For Kate White that means:
Reading. "I used to try to read late at night in bed after everybody else was tucked in, but so often I would fall asleep after just five minutes. What I do now is try to block time at around 4pm when I read, even if it's only for 15 minutes."
Writing. Kate pens her mysteries in a cozy room in the barn on their property. She writes in the morning: "I'm up early, before the rest of my family." Her goal is not to write for any specific length of time, but to write until she's produced six pages. "If you keep at it, it adds up."
Being outdoors. Kate loves long walks in the woods. "I've learned a lot from watching our dog, from the pleasure he takes in nature. He always chooses the grass over the window seat, and that's something I do whenever possible."
Family. Kate plans time with each of the kids ‑- reading on the porch with Hayley, playing Ping-Pong or bird-watching with Hunter. As for husband Brad, "A couple of years ago we started a tradition of having a cheese course after dinner on Saturday so we can have some private time."