Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reggie Recommends: Rural Residence

There's a store in the town of Hudson, New York, that Reggie would like to introduce you to, Dear Reader.  It's called Rural Residence, and it is really rather special.

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.

Rural Residence
316 Warren Street
Hudson, New York 12534
(518) 822-1061
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


  1. Your wonderful photographs made me feel like I was there. Such a lovely shop.

  2. So attractive! As mother Privilege would say. Oh just come to California and scout resource. Please? We don't care if it's North or South:).

  3. What a wonderful shop! I'm sure I could spend hours browsing through Tim's wonderful things, and I will definitely add this to my (I'll get there someday) Hudson River itinerary. In the meantime, I'll check the website. Very kind of you to share.

  4. It looks like a really wonderful store! Especially in this current economic climate, I have concerns about the survival of independent retailers more than ever. All too often, holiday sales provide the only profit for the store owner and expenses are just met during the rest of the year. (Generally speaking, of course I know nothing of the particular circumstances in this case). Bravo, Reggie, for spreading The Good Word.

  5. That note of authenticity can't be beat. I too prefer to patronize locally owned, family operations in my retailers and restaurants, and get a triple benefit from being their customer. One not only receives a superior experience, but also gives support to their business venture AND to their creativity, while at the same time tangibly encouraging through supporting their success, similar businesses to open.
    On a local note, my first "antiques pusher", sadly no longer in business, had such a place, a mixture of antiques and new-old-style products for the individual and the home. She is a genius at putting together what people like to see when they shop. Her initiative led to the revival of the failing downtown area of the small SC town where I grew up. 19th century facades re-emerged from 1950s "atom-age" cover-ups, empty buildings were again occupied, and a remarkable architectural heritage was once more revealed.
    I am looking forward to RR's retail website coming online, and I'll certainly visit Hudson next time I am in New York and have some time on my hands.
    Best -
    - Mike

  6. Before I decamped New York for Washington, I was thisclose to purchasing a weekend home in Hudson. I still dream, as only a romantic can, about what might have been. Thank you for sharing this lovely establishment with us all.


  7. What an interesting, beautiful posting! I am absolutely done with malls, but I can imagine traveling a great distance to frequent such a shop. Lucky you!

  8. Reggie just the type of store I would love to have in my neighborhood!

    Joyeaux Noel!

    I have a new giveaway from My Sparrow, do come and enter!

    Art by Karena

  9. But Reggie, I never need encouragement to visit Hudson. One of the most luscious towns anywhere, for those of us who love early 19th century architecture, in one of the most interesting parts of the country (except for the eastern Maine coast, of course :-) ).

    And when I'm finished jealously perusing the wares of the antiques dealers, Rural Residence is my reward. Made to order for my sensibilities. You nailed it.

  10. Awesome post Reggie. Thanks, BC

  11. Hudson...that's where Carrie Haddad Gallery is too right? She has all the great Richard Merkin images.

  12. Oh, and that chandelier! What a looker, in an age when so many ugly wannabes are out there hanging from McMansion ceilings..

  13. Dear Mr. Darling,

    What a visual delight! Quality merchandise displayed in an artful manner (the displays remind me somewhat of Fortnum & Mason's offerings found amid their housewares and personal accessories floors, which are also displayed on antique tables). Rural Residence is the type of business that excites me for all the reasons that you cover in your excellent
    post. Unfortunately, these establishments are a rare thing nowadays. Alas, the blight of big box store mania is probably why.

  14. A highlight of any visit to Darlington House is the expedition to Hudson and time spent giving in to temptation at Rural Residence.The mug you bought for me there is one of my favorite possessions. I use it for my coffee every morning. Thanks for the reminder of one of my very favorite stores.
    love & kisses, Camilla

  15. Thanks for the reminder of one of the many things I love about the town we share, Reggie. The photos are dazzling and your commentary is just what I would say if I were as eloquent as you in matters of taste and style!

  16. I, too, love and use my RR porcelain mug. That Christmas you sent the BEST presents! Alas, the incense paper strips are only an olfactory memory now...



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