Caroline Diani and Jeffrey Doornbos, Southern California transplants (she was born in Nairobi and grew up in the north of England, he’s from the Midwest), have an idyllic life in Santa Barbara. Yet something was geographically lacking: “A couple of years ago, we decided we wanted to be bicoastal; to have a base on the East Coast,” according to Caroline, the owner of Santa Barbara interiors shop Diani Living. “I grew up in the north of England, in an old stone farmhouse, with an Aga in the kitchen and winters spent indoors reading. And Jeffrey, who’s an actor and founding Blue Man Group member, wanted to be closer to the theater world in NYC.
“I started Googling ‘old stone farm house’ and a listing popped up in Germantown, NY, just a couple of hours north of NYC. We flew out for a weekend to see the place, and within seconds we were convinced. We went after it hard; there were swarms of potential buyers at the open house. We wrote a letter to the owners telling them how committed we were to retaining the original character of the place, which was built in 1752 and hadn’t been altered much, aside from a 1950s kitchen addition.”
Caroline and Jeffrey have been slowly restoring the interiors (“Jeffrey’s become a big DIYer,” Caroline says), taking care to preserve the original character and filling the space with vintage and antique finds sourced locally. Join us for a tour:
“The house was built in 1752, and everything is original; the chestnut beams, the flooring, the fireplaces,” Caroline says. “It was one of three stone houses built by a trio of German brothers who came to the area to farm the land. After we bought the property, we met with a local historian and learned the history of the house.”
In the dining area, Caroline and Jeffrey removed a partition wall to create an open space and had a specialist repoint the fireplace using antique bricks. “Jeffrey is on the quest for the perfect dining room light fixture,” Caroline says. “He created a placeholder by draping a couple of simple bulb fixtures on a vintage herb dryer.”
The upstairs bedrooms are clad in white-painted paneling (for more, see Remodeling 101: The Ultimate Wood Paneling Guide with Jersey Ice Cream Co. and Expert Advice: The Enduring Appeal of Shiplap) and outfitted with Society linens from Diani Living.
Many of the pieces in the house are from local antiques shop Red Chair; take a tour of owner Jocelyn Sinauer’s house here: