I met Hope a million years ago at a Christmas party at her brother’s, with whom I was friends back in my twenties. I knew she was an architect, and that alone intimidated me enough. She was also outgoing and smart, kind and confident, and an alumnus of Miss Porter’s. Basically, everything this girl from the South Shore of Long Island wished she had been. (Hey, at least I own it…)
Fast forward some 20-odd years later, I noticed a woman and her mom looking adoringly at Remy as we sat waiting for our coffee one morning at the Southfield Store up in the Berks. I brought Remy over to say hi to these dog lovers and the daughter asked, “Are you Jane Larkworthy?” It was Hope, and her mom, Bunny, whom I also had known way back when. (who forgets someone named Bunny???). Wouldn’t you know it, Hope’s house is in the town just south of ours. Not only that, she and her husband John are avid cyclists and, as often happens up here, our overlap of friends stretches wide. Hope’s firm Platt Dana specializes in seamlessly weaving modern touches into classic homes with a minimalistic chic tone. This also reflects both her personal style (I covet her shiny green clogs) and her no-nonsense pragmatism. In fact, Hope was the one who wisely suggested the idea of soliciting friends to make the side recipes for our July 3rd dinner party of 55. What a headache alleviator that was.
Hope has turned what she referred to as a “garish” 1970’s colonial into the airy, warm and inviting house we love to visit. Here, some of the methods behind Hope’s magic.
Favorite paint color: Benjamin Moore Silver Satin. I lean toward greys and happy whites, and tend to stay away from creams. Creams end up looking very dirty to me. I always push for blush colors instead of creams.
Seasoning/herb of choice: Cilantro, basil and parsley. I love to add herbs to green salads.I also like to mix big bunches of parsley or basil with flowers in the summer.
Secret ingredient to a dish: Humor. Local ingredients and fun people, too.
What cooking ingredient do you splurge on? Organic meats. And, of course, wine!
Napkin brand: Marimekko. Truth be told, I only like the classic old school patterns and not the newfangled ones. My favorite napkin of the moment is anything solid- blue, pink, white- bring it on! Fog and Chiliwich make great linen napkins.
Knives brand: Anything sharp! I really mean this, although I do love my grapefruit knife and the brightly colored ceramic knives you can buy at Whole Foods.
Cookware: Le Creuset; green is my favorite. I love their oval serving dishes and big casserole pots for stews, soups, roasts.
Dinnerware brand Iittala, but in Norfolk, we have our wedding china which is Old Newburyport from Spode and my grandmother’s beach house china which I love- it’s granny and happy!
Pasta type: DeCio #11
Pantry must have: Pine Nuts, Sumac, and Dark Chocolate.
No dish is made without Olive Oil and shallots.
If we don’t have this in the fridge, I freak out: Seriously, I’m a minimalist. I love to go to Guido’s, so I shop for what I need- happiness is to leave our fridge in Norfolk on Sunday night with only a little milk, a yogurt, seltzer, and beer. I pack up all of our leftovers into an LL Bean thermos and bring it back to NYC.
Favorite room in the house: We love our kitchen. It is the center of the house and open to all the rooms on our first floor. From the kitchen sink, I can see out the front of the house to the road and out to the back of the house to the mountains.
Rainy weather activity: COOKING. We go to Guido’s, cook, read, walk up to the reservoir if it isn’t too wet out.
What you love to do most when you’re up at the house and its region? Biking and dinner parties. I like to see friends in their houses, unlike in New York City, where we meet friends in restaurants. We also love to go to the Norfolk library. It’s the hub of Norfolk and an architectural gem.
Favorite season? Any season except MUD SEASON in late March/early April, so we’re not up as much then. But the magic of Norfolk is that it is beautiful in all seasons. Clearly, you can’t beat summer or fall but late November is exquisite because of the low, blue light.
Dream house? That is waaaaay too loaded!! It’s like asking an author what their favorite book is. However, for me, the most important feature is the way in which the house connects you with the land and the light, but of course the relationship of the kitchen to the rest of the house is critical.
Dream designer: One who has no pretension.
Cherished piece of artwork: A Richard Stankeiwicz sculpture from my mom. LOVE.
What’s the best hostess touch you do or have experienced? Or stolen? A friend visited us recently, and she heated the coffee mugs by swirling hot water in them prior to serving the coffee. Seems on par with freezing beer glasses.
What’s was your worst dinner party debacle? WHAT TO MAKE?!!!I like to make everything ahead! If it’s a big group, we serve everything room temperature. That way, we can enjoy the party.
Quick-fix meal In summer, pasta with fresh pesto. In winter, pasta with parmesan,lemon zest, pepper and olive oil.
Cuisinart or Vitamix? Cuisinart. Vitamixes are too ugly.
Blender or mixer? Mixer. I love my Kitchenaid mixer, especially for whipping cream and making cookies.
One thing you can’t get right in your house or décor: Nothing can ever be minimal enough for me!
Bed linens: Brooklinen. Grey and white striped, but I also am partial to Ralph Lauren blue and white small gingham. Unfortunately, they don’t make them any more.
Fluffy or flat pillow? Flat.
Favorite home store: Danish Design Store, Finnish Design Shop
Favorite furniture designer Alvar Aalto
Towel brand Parachute towels are new to me. They are so soft, and I love the mineral color of mine, which is pale, pale grey and very chic.
Favorite podcast to listen to on drive up or down: Books on tape! We just finished listening to “Daughters of the Samurai” by Janis Nimura, a New Yorker who spends weekends up in Colebrook, the next town over.
Early or late riser? Early
How do you spend your first 15 minutes in the morning? Drinking coffee, reading the paper and checking out Instagram, when I remember!! I love to watch the sun come up over our field in the early morning.
Favorite recipe you’d like to share? I’m a serial cooker. I made this Melissa Clark recipe (left) all Summer. Now, I’m on to curry!