After years of urban sophistication, in New York, London and traveling around the world, fashion designers Martin Cooper and Karen Suen-Cooper felt the call for more – more time, more space, more nature and more joy. They found it in an 18th-century federal-style farmhouse in the Hudson Valley that they’ve been renovating for fifteen years. Please visit me and Susanna for a behind the scenes visit of Old Chatham, New York with this inspiring and creative couple.
A busy fashion industry (the first couple to join the CFDA), Martin and Karen had international calendars of events and travel, but a visit to rural Columbia County sent them looking for a weekend spot. They fell in love with B’ellow (Big + Yellow), their nickname for their soon-to-be home, and two years later they began their journey to sensitively bring them into the 21st century.
You just moved to London to take on Martin’s new role as Burberry’s vice president and design director. There they found additional inspiration in centuries-old architecture and in places like the Sir John Soane Museum, popular with design cognoscenti. Classic architectural details and bold mill work became the foil for fearless color choices and the background for their personal collections.
During the renovation, their goal was deceptively simple – to transform their historic home into a home that respected both the past, the passage of time and light, and her passion for entertainment.
When they moved to B’ellow full time last year, they redefined their lives and enjoyed spending time with friends and family. Often they dined in their divinely sensual, black lacquered dining room, inspired by their travels to memorable places like Lapérouse and Hotel Costes in Paris, the Wolesley in London and the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.
Die-hard hosts, Martin and Karen, had always used place cards to honor their guests and to accommodate them with ease. Finding interesting examples that matched their high design standards proved challenging, however, and thus The Punctilious Mr. Ps Place Card Co. was born.
The cards contain images that they carefully curate and are beautifully printed on cotton tissue paper. On the back you can digitally calligraph the names of the guests for free. And while the company started out with place cards, it has expanded to other printed products like menu cards, buffet tags, business cards, and personalized note cards (my elegant Birds of India below). You can even send a single personalized note to the recipient of your choice – very handy for time-sensitive notes or thank you, for those with less than admirable penmanship, or for travelers.
And do you need a stylish yet thoughtful gift for the hostess? There are Mr. Ps organic wellness candles made from soy wax and scented with essential oils
or their jams, lemon curd or chutney, handmade with all natural ingredients in small quantities in the Hudson Valley. I feel like this is just the beginning for Mr. P as Martin and Karen create more products that reflect their thoughtful country life and discriminatory style.
All photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence
Many thanks to Karen, Martin and Pax for the most beautiful day and for making everyone a little more happy!