See How Elton John’s Favorite Event Planner Decorated His Hudson Valley Farmhouse
Any good home design is a balancing act between the strategic and the sentimental. Too much of the former is more admired than loved, and too much of the latter can cloy.
At his stately Georgian house in New York’s Hudson Valley, the designer and shop owner Antony Todd made structural moves right away, replacing all the decrepit windows, adding central air, and raising the heights of the exterior doors. And then he softened it all by painting the exterior pink and filling it with items he has been collecting since he was a teenager.
Todd wanted to establish a place where those memories could be shown to good advantage, but he left enough room for making new ones with his partner, Lautaro Tambutto. “Form and shape can breathe here,” says Todd, a native of Melbourne, Australia, who has been living in the New York area for the past 30 years.
Todd got his start designing events, and he still creates Elton John’s Oscar-viewing party every year in Los Angeles. “With events, it’s all about the impact when you first walk into a party,” he says. “Take people’s breath away and transport them. That’s been useful for me.” Notably, though, there’s a more relaxed sense of pacing in his domestic interior work; he does not rush to unveil all the goodies at once.
First, he needed the right upstate canvas upon which to apply such artistry. He found the house, set on a wooded two-acre lot, five years ago. “I was looking for a weekender,” Todd says of the sprawling 5,000-square-foot, 18th-century house, which also has an adjacent one-bedroom cottage that dates to the 1920s. But “I quickly fell in love,” he adds.
Part of the appeal was that the old house hadn’t had its integrity sullied with too many additions over the centuries, which is the case for many homes in the area. “Too many of them are a labyrinth,” Todd says. “This has the wonderful layout of 35-foot-long, 10-foot-wide corridors, and good, square rooms off the halls.”
He moved his eponymous shop, which offers a mix of pieces from his thriving custom furniture line and other objects, from New York City to the charming town of Millbrook, around the corner from home. Todd’s own designs populate the living room, including a cozy armless sofa in blue linen and slipper chairs in cinnamon suede. He is open to quirky inspirations, part of his overall eclectic taste. “The finials on the slipper chairs are based on the top of a tequila bottle someone sent me,” he says. A dark, dramatic oil painting by Thomas Fougeirol provides extra depth and texture.
The approach Todd takes is to design something himself if the perfect piece doesn’t exist. For the dining room, both the ebony-stained oak table and the Louis XVI–style chairs are from his custom line. But in the kitchen, around the simpler dining table that he created in oak, he placed 1950s German school chairs with a retro-modern curved splat.
The impulse to acquire began early. As a teenager on a collecting outing with his father in Melbourne, he picked up an 18th-century English mahogany hall chair, which now resides by the front entrance and the charming Dutch-style door, painted apple green. A more recent purchase, an elaborate 17th-century gilt Italian console, stands nearby in the living room, with a contemporary painting hung above it. Tambutto says that the constellation of collected pieces creates a “beautiful energy.” He adds: “As you move around the house, there’s always something beautiful to look at.”
In the wide upstairs hallway, Todd placed an 1815 Portuguese daybed, made of rosewood and rattan, and covered it in raw silk. “It’s a great spot for a nap,” he says. Sleep is just as easy in the bedrooms, which have original fireplaces for an extra cozy factor. The headboard in the primary bedroom is a green raw silk affair of Todd’s own design; to enrich it, he had some vintage ikat fabric stitched along each side.
Throughout the house is evidence of Todd’s ability to give an object new life with the right context: His entry rug is actually a Persian rice dryer, and his dining room curtains are made from a repurposed Indian tablecloth.
Uncrowded and thoughtful combinations of new and old make for a decorating scheme that feels like it has always been there, folding the best of the 1750s into 2023.
“I like to honor a timeless point of view,” Todd says. “One that doesn’t date itself.”
This story originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE
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