Published on September 8, 2020

Restoring, repurposing, restyling. There’s a lot that goes into sprucing up an historic home, and no one knows that better than Zio and Sons’s Anthony D’Argenzio. In our bimonthly column, he takes us through every design detail in This Old Hudson Maison, his latest passion project in upstate New York. 

This home was designed for renters, so I knew I wanted a laundry room and a spot for extra guests, and this little pass-through space right off the master suite that leads to the bathroom felt like the perfect place to blend the two. The only problem: I was having a hard time figuring out how to merge both functionalities in a way that felt design-forward. That’s where the idea of curtain walls came in. 

The room itself is not very big: The alcove is as long as a twin-size bed, and it’s quite narrow. I found a pair of antique metal army cot beds on Facebook Marketplace that stacked, and smaller washer-dryer units from GE that I could tuck into opposite corners of the room. 

Then came the drapery to hide it all. I built custom floor-to-ceiling hanging curtains, so guests can shut them to hide clutter or create privacy if people are sleeping in the bunks. I wasn’t sure how it was going to end up looking—the fabric swatches I got were so small!—but sometimes you just have to take a risk, and I love how they turned out. I made sure to stick to the same general color palette as the rest of the home, so even if they weren’t a perfect fit, they wouldn’t look out of place. 

Overall, fabric is a great alternative to building out a wall: It softens a room and creates zones without closing it off. You could use this trick in a nursery to hide kids’ toys, or even in a kitchen to disguise a pantry. Really, wherever you have an awkward space you don’t love aesthetically, curtains are a great tool. Here’s what I did that helped the project along.

room with grey curtains and wood doorPin It
Photography by Zio and Sons Creative

Take Notes Early On

Before you even start a renovation, you need a good understanding of how the room is going to be used. Every element should be mapped out. I like to write down each component of the area and let those uses lead the design. For example, under “bunk beds,” I made notes about the exact size of the cots I found and how much square footage I had to squeeze them into. That informed how everything else would be laid out. 

bunk beds behind curtainsPin It
Photography by Zio and Sons Creative

Rejigger the Blueprint 

When you’re working with an older space, rethinking how rooms work is really important because the ways they will be used now might be different. Don’t be afraid to add new openings or completely change layouts to make them more functional—we reconfigured this one completely, removing a closet and adding a door for flow. That way it was a cleaner canvas to build off of when we added the laundry units and beds. 

Be Intentional With the Materials

The fabric I picked is a wool blend from the Shade Store. In the other rooms of the Maison we used lighter, sheerer linens, but I wanted to go a little bit heavier here to make sure everything was well disguised. Aside from keeping it practical, I also wanted the curtains to feel like a design moment, so I included wood bead trim from Samuel & Sons along the edges of the panels. Why not make your hidden storage a stylish statement, too?

As told to Elly Leavitt. 

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