On a dazzling day in the late fall, before the onset of this winter’s relentless snow and ice, writer and editor Linda O’Keeffe and I traveled to Gun Nowak’s Columbia county farmhouse, to observe, interview and photograph for an article that has just been published in the Spring 2014 edition of Upstate House.
Flame-headed, friendly, funny Gun, who founded FACE Stockholm cosmetics in 1982 and now has 28 stores (including two in upstate New York–Rhinebeck and Hudson), moved to her Germantown house with its 12 acres and a beautiful, ever-changing view of the Hudson and the Catskills in 2005.
Gun did minimal renovation but opened up her 1870s farmhouse, removing several ground-floor interior walls. Linda writes, “spread over two floors, the 2,500-square-foot space now has an intuitive flow and its logical layout utilizes every nook and recess.”
The decor, “simple, bare-floored” includes living and dining room furniture shipped from Stockholm, antique display cases, large, ornately-framed mirrors resting against walls and Asian artifacts, and marries “exuberance, formality and restraint.”
The property also has a post-and-beam barn which Gun transformed into a guest house (oh, to be a good friend of Gun’s who doesn’t live within a reasonable driving distance), with a wall of west-facing glass, looking toward distinctive Round Top (at 3,400 feet, just shy of qualifying as a Catskill High Peak).
Linda, describes the barn’s abundant light as “almost a structural material,” and quotes Gun, “I asked my contractor to install as many windows as possible, until he made me sign a waiver to say he wasn’t responsible if the whole thing collapsed.”