In 2002, Sheila Bridges wrote her first book, Furnishing Forward: A Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime, with a simple dictum: If you buy only what you truly love, then the things you buy will last forever. Her new home in New York’s Hudson Valley is full of old favorites: an ode to all the things that, for her, spark joy. Take, for example, the Fornasetti chairs, which feature two African men in traditional Moroccan dress. “I think I first saw them in the early ’90s,” Bridges says. “They’re classic, and they just come with me wherever I go.”
The residence, a tar-black beauty with 30-foot ceilings, is hard to miss, located as it is on a road of traditional farmhouses. It is the first home that Bridges has ever lived in that was built from scratch. She spent her childhood in an old stone house in Philadelphia, and her other current dwellings, in Harlem and Iceland, both come with historic pedigrees. “I just always wanted to have a full-on design build,” she says. “One where I could really sort of control the entire vernacular.” Bridges started construction on the property in 2018 and moved in last year.
A perennial member of the ELLE Decor A-List, Bridges grew up in the era of modern R & B and hip-hop, when samples of old soul tunes were constantly resurrected and reimagined. Similarly, the house in the Hudson Valley samples from her time spent in Iceland: The dark color of the exterior is reminiscent of Búðakirkja, a favorite church of hers on a remote peninsula there. Bridges has long admired the way the church’s black-painted facade stands out against its snow-white environs.