How a Mid-Reno Wallpaper Discovery Changed My Entire Project

Columnist Anthony D’Argenzio of Zio and Sons reveals his latest remodel.

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Anthony d'argenzio in tiled bathroom
Photography by Winnie Au

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. 

As an avid lover of old stuff, I see the potential in things. When I first visited the 1910 building, which is situated on a central street in Hudson, New York, I knew that it needed a lot of work. But between the high ceilings and the original moldings, I was excited. I’ve been restoring each apartment for the past two years as part of the This Old Hudson residence. My initial plan was to make it an Airbnb—but COVID-19 shifted everything temporarily, so I’ve designed it as a furnished longer-stay rental. This space was my last to complete, and I really wanted to go all out. 

It’s my favorite unit in the building: It’s located on the southeast-facing corner of the second floor, and the light is phenomenal and gives it a really open feeling. Putting some extra resources into reconfiguring the layout was important to me; I worked with my business partner, Nick, to make a plan for demo-ing the walls to create a modern footprint that didn’t compromise its historic nature. We converted one of the living rooms into the master suite, and took down a wall to turn a small bedroom into an open dining setup. I would say I probably overspent—but it’s a great result. All in all, it took about 13 months. 

Honestly, I was having the hardest time figuring out the direction I wanted to take this apartment. Then the discovery of original antique wallpaper set the tone for the whole space: It had an old-world motif with ornate details. My wife said, “It was waiting for you, buried layers below the surface.” 

From there, I picked my colors and accents—I wanted it to feel almost like upstate New York meets Provence; we even named it “This Old Hudson Maison.” You’ll see a lot of gilded antique gold frames, and we used a warmer palette versus my usual cooler tones. We brought in salvaged pieces: There’s the transoms, the library doors with fogged glass for privacy, and the 1840s Federal-style mantel. We picked weathered wood fixtures instead of the classic antique darker wood. And glam comes in via the brass finishes: lighting, switches, and frames. 

antique sliding doors and vintage fireplace
Photography by Zio and Sons Creative

I also went all out with the materials. I try to use reclaimed and vintage as much as possible—it adds soul to the project. I put a ban on drywall after demo-ing the kitchens and bathrooms for the sake of infusing character, so we used tongue-and-groove paneling on the walls instead. In the bathrooms, pine planks cover every surface instead of boring drywall or plaster. 

living room with antique plaster wallpaper, white furniture, antique table
Photography by Zio and Sons Creative

In fact, the bathroom is one of my favorite moments in the whole house. I had ordered all that tile from my collaboration with Clé early on, when I had just finished designing the line. I had it in boxes for months, waiting to use it in this room. It was definitely a full circle moment, working on the product design and then actually having it installed in an environment I created—it felt really surreal. 

shower nook with tiled bathtub
Photography by Zio and Sons Creative
rustic warm toned kitchen
Photography by Zio and Sons Creative

In a weird way, this apartment feels like it could have been there 100 years ago. I pulled inspiration from the whole Hudson Valley and the town of Hudson—reusing antiques as much as possible and looking to the building itself to keep true to the original style and character. I really wanted to tell a story through the design; to create an environment that was rich in texture. The old-world, historic palette never gets tired for me. 

As told to Elly Leavitt. 

Check back in two weeks for the next story in our series, in which  D’Argenzio explains how he restored the wallpaper and plaster walls in This Old Hudson Maison.