Reggie has been a delighted customer of Rural Residence since it opened in 1999. It is the type of store that Reggie seeks to frequent when he patronizes retail establishments. And that is because it is an independent, locally owned business, where the contents reflect the creative mercantile flair of its owner, rather than the focus-group-affirmed offerings found in national retail chains.
Rural Residence is the brainchild and creative offspring of its founder and owner, Tim Dunleavy. Tim, who worked in the fashion industry before opening Rural Residence, can be found at the store most days of the week manning the counter and greeting his customers. That is when he isn't sourcing Rural Residence's marvelous offerings from myriad suppliers or pursuing his other great love, historic preservation.
Rural Residence is an old-fashioned emporium, full of wonderful and eclectic offerings for the well-appointed country house. It is a delight to go there because one never knows what one will find amongst its treasures.
It's really a very romantic place. And by romantic, I mean in the spirit of the Hudson River painters of the mid-nineteenth century. Rural Residence is a store that celebrates natural beauty and features products that have integrity and authenticity. It rings true.
Rural Residence stocks an interesting array of reproduction tablewares made by artisans whose work is inspired by nineteenth century examples, including creamware made by Don Carpentier. The store stocks more modern decorative objects, too, including John Derian's whimsical decoupage ware.
Rural Residence carries interesting and attractive textiles, both for the bed and the table. It also stocks useful household products that are beautifully utilitarian, including cleaning products from Caldrea, interesting hooks and soap dishes, scissors, handmade brushes, beeswax candles, and more. In addition, Tim carries paint by Farrow & Ball and reps historical wallpaper from Adelphi Paper Hangings.
Tim displays his wares on antique tables and in antique display cases, and the store has a wonderful feeling of another time. It is almost as if one steps back in to the nineteenth century when one crosses Rural Residence's threshold. In addition to selling newly made products, Tim also sells antiques, which he artfully displays throughout the store. He recently acquired a crystal chandelier that once belonged to the actress Barbara Bel Geddes' mother, who lived in Hudson. The chandelier hangs in the store, and it is very prettily fitted with deep pink candles for the holidays. It can be yours, if you like.
Rural Residence stocks an always changing and expertly chosen selection of books on architecture, gardens, decoration, fashion, and the like. It is also, to the best of my knowledge, the only place to buy World of Interiors in Hudson. And Tim regularly features book signings by noteworthy authors. He recently had one for Duane Hampton, who came to sign copies of her recently published book on her husband, the decorator Mark Hampton. In addition to book signings, Rural Residence occasionally features other interesting presenters. Back in 2001 Tim hosted a trunk show of his friend, Thom Browne, which was a great success.
Rural Residence is beautifully decorated for Christmas this year. Tim has worked with Wenonah Webster, a floral designer, for the last half a dozen years in decorating the store for the holidays. This year she did a particularly marvelous job, using dried vines and leaves, little artificial owls, and live blush-pink poinsettias. It really is quite magical. In fact, it was the Christmas decorations at Rural Residence that prompted Reggie to write this post. He wanted to share them with you, Dear Reader, as an example of what is possible in the hands of a creative, inspired, independent retailer—in stark contrast to what one sees in the shopping malls. That is if one, unlike Reggie, were to venture in such places at this time of year.
But Rural Residence is a worthy destination throughout the year, and not just at Christmastime. We make a point of stopping in whenever we visit Hudson, as the store's inventories are constantly evolving. We know that we can always find something that strikes our fancy there or that we will find useful to have at Darlington House. We buy our soaps and towels and grooming supplies there, as Tim has several attractive lines in stock to select from.
Rural Residence always carries a marvelous selection of seasonal cards, gift tags, wrapping papers, and labels. It is difficult to choose among them, they are so attractive.
In years past Tim has published a small catalogue of Rural Residence's offerings at Christmastime. The catalogues are really quite delightful, and Reggie has saved each of them. Tim has worked with a number of talented artists and photographers on his catalogues, including Robert Clyde Anderson one year and the Messers McDermott & McGough another. The texts are charmingly written in a quaint, old-fashioned manner by James Corbett.
Rural Residence stocks offerings covering a broad range of price points, and there is always something to be had there that one can come away with without doing too much damage to one's pocket book.
Rural Residence is a magical shopping experience, made all the more marvelous by actually visiting and seeing it in person. The website isn't yet featuring the store's offerings, but it is expected to be fully up and running sometime this spring. If the store's catalogues are any indication, then Rural Residence's website is sure to be a pleasing and creative means of shopping its wares on-line.
For those of you who haven't been to Hudson, New York, yet, it is well worth the trip. In addition to Rural Residence—which is worth the trip alone—Hudson has lots of other interesting stores to visit, a number of excellent restaurants, and a thriving arts and music scene. It is a convenient two-hour train ride from New York City, and the journey along the banks of the mighty Hudson River is one of the most scenic train rides in the country. Be sure to sit on the western side of the train car, as that is where you'll get the best view of the passing scenery.
I encourage you, Dear Reader, to make a trip to Hudson, New York, and to stop in at Rural Residence. I am confident that you will be as delighted by shopping there as I am.
And please tell them that Reggie sent you.
316 Warren Street
Hudson, New York 12534
Timothy Dunleavy, Proprietor
Please note that Reggie has received nothing in return for this review, nor does he expect to. He has written it solely for the pleasure of introducing Rural Residence to his readers and for the satisfaction he takes in promoting a small, independently owned business of taste and discrimination.
All photographs by Boy Fenwick