Designer Becky Shea's Upper Pine Retreat Is All About the Lighting

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Who: Becky and Jake Shea

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Where: Southern Catskills, New York

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Style: Mountain Modernism

While designer and creative director Becky Shea is known for making brand new spaces feel warm and lived-in, she recently went in a slightly different direction. This time around, her project was a retreat outside New York City that she and her husband, Jake — the co-founder and COO of Becky Shea Design (BS/D) — were seriously excited about.

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"We've always loved the idea of moving into a space that has history as opposed to new construction, even though that's primarily what we do at our design studio," says Becky Shea.

They found that perfect historic space in the Southern Catskills, about 90 minutes from their home in the city. Set on six acres, the 1942 farmhouse offered plenty of charm and had been well-maintained and updated over the years. "The bones of the house were great, but it definitely needed depth and layers," says Shea.

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One of the biggest transformations was the mudroom just inside the entrance. The couple used one of the guest bedroom's two closets to expand the space and installed beadboard, radiant-heated tile floors, a limestone step, and walnut beams. The walls were painted in Benjamin Moore's Dakota Woods Green, creating a strong first impression.

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"We have a love for woodwork, so it was really important for us to have those in this space as it's the first room that greets you when you get home," says Shea.

The Sheas looked to their surroundings for inspiration, incorporating hues from nature and ideas from the traditional farmhouses of the Hudson Valley.

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"I'm a little nutty and went out into the forest on our property with my Benjamin Moore paint fan and started honing in on the tones that were most prevalent," says Shea. "We wanted to highlight the outdoors since our home is nestled on a mountainside with no neighbors in sight and a cozy 'tucked away' vibe."

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Shea also carefully arranged the furniture in each room to take full advantage of the views. Comfort was key.

"Everything had to be practical, functional, and comfy," says Shea. "This is our retreat from the city, so being able to kick back and relax was our number one goal." The family room was outfitted with pieces in soft colors and textures, including a Sixpenny sectional, Lulu and Georgia bouclé stool, One Kings Lane ottoman, and Jenni Kayne pillows.

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In the dining area, a custom BS/D table was paired with vintage Maison Regain chairs and Shea added a vintage top she found on Etsy to the custom hutch base. The designer carefully selected the lighting for the whole space, including the Danielle Trofe pendants above the dining table.

"We've learned in our experience that good lighting really sets the mood for a home," the designer says. "We partnered up with Allied Maker, Lostine, Worleys, and Danielle Trofe to outfit each individual space. All of the pieces are handmade and so beautiful, not to mention the perfect temperature to warm up the home, especially when the sun goes down as early as it does these days. It's the right amount of ambient lighting to set a vibe."

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A bright sitting area catty-corner to the kitchen is known as the cocktail nook. "When we have guests, they can hang here while Jake and I are cooking and we can still converse," says Shea. A Sixpenny sofa sits beside a Target ottoman and a vintage Windsor chair.

The couple turned a loft area into a home office for BS/D, cladding the space with shiplap and installing a walnut floating desk. "Adding beam work and shiplap in certain spaces was a must," says Shea. "We do that in all our projects, so it was important to include something that we feel is very much a part of our ethos as a studio." In the sitting area, a Scout & Nimble sofa is paired with vintage tables found at Taylor + Ace.

The primary bedroom, which is painted in Benjamin Moore's Ashwood Moss is the designer's favorite spot in the home.

"The dark color was critical for me because I believe a bedroom should be as dark as possible when you sleep," says Shea. "The depth of the Ashwood Moss absorbs any light that comes in and helps you catch those Z's so well."

Shea designed the nightstands, which are topped with vintage French lamps, and layered a jute and shag rug. The antique Stickley table in the corner — one of the couple's prized possessions — was found at an antique shop in nearby Livingston Manor.

Also in the corner of the primary bedroom, a playful Thorsten van Elten sheep stands beside a Sixpenny chaise. Ceramic bells by Muddy Heart hang on the walls and a pendant by Lostine adds extra light.

Shea stuck with the dark color scheme for the walls in the guest bedroom as well. She brightened things up with a Jenni Kayne bed, white oak RH Teen nightstands, and Hudson Valley Lighting lamps.

The light and bright primary bathroom has a cast iron clawfoot tub and uses a combination of subway tile and marble mosaics.

The home has been more than a retreat from the city for the couple — it has become a safe haven from burnout and the stress of the world today.

"After spending a year in our New York City apartment during the height of the pandemic, we realized that the most important thing in life is balance," says Shea.

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