THEInda Rodin had to leave New York. The maverick stylist, model and entrepreneur had lived in Manhattan for decades, and the city was entering its third month of lockdown. Like many people, she began to imagine a life elsewhere. And so Rodin, who grew up on Long Island, started looking for a place where she could garden and where her longtime canine companion, Winky – a lively 20-pound poodle – could explore life beyond the apartment building. from downtown Chelsea where they lived together for many years (42 for Linda, over 11 for Winky).
After examining a handful of homes in Port Washington, Long Island, Rodin found what she was looking for further east in Oyster Bay, a place that could offer a bit of peace, though the place needed a bit of ‘imagination.
“The house reminded me of a place Joni Mitchell would have lived in Laurel Canyon in the 1970s,” says Rodin. “And that was my fantasy.”
After learning the roof needed to be replaced, the basement redone, and the stove converted from electricity to gas – not to mention all the ins and outs of plumbing restrictions – the longtime city dweller realized that the interior design was the only attribute of the house that was entirely under his control.
This is where her close friend, the props stylist and set designer Jeffrey W. Miller, entered. For more than 30 years, Rodin and Miller have accompanied each other on flea markets and collaborated on fashion shoots as well as on its line of accessories for dogs, Linda and winks. Naturally, Miller was the perfect partner in helping Rodin transform the three-bedroom house, which sits on two and a half acres of land.
“Jeffrey has impeccable taste, and it’s good to have someone who can confirm that I’m not crazy, because the things I buy can be crazy,” says Rodin. “We are on the same wavelength.
With nowhere to go deep in the COVID-19 pandemic, Rodin grabbed almost every furniture line, from the mirror, sconces and Scandinavian chest to the entrance to the sink, to the tub and a 1950s jadeite green toilet in the primary bathroom. (Like many of us, Rodin admits to spending a lot of his time in Instagram’s rabbit hole.)
Rodin began to paint the walls in Benjamin moore‘s Decorator’s White and glossy white floors to create the feel of higher ceilings, as well as sorting its collections, furniture, and artifacts to find the perfect spot for its flea market treasures.
Rodin knew she must have a mustard yellow room in the living room. Three, in fact: a set of sofas from the Scandinavian furniture company Hem and a chair by Moroso. The craftsmen behind MA Estudio, whom she had met on a trip to Mexico just before the lockdown, made the rug to measure. Rodin decorated the living room with works of art she acquired over the years, ranging from a museum-worthy 1940s painting by Kurt Craemer that she bought in Positano, Italy, to a work of his dear friend the novelist and painter Frédéric Tuten, to a $ 20 copy of Bob Dylan that she bought on Prince Street in Manhattan 25 years ago. She has also included a number of works from exhibitions to Rotate the gallery, in the Upper East Side.
But her favorite room is the kitchen, which she has completely emptied except for the original slate floor. Rodin loves to lounge on Blu Dot’s white leather sofa, surrounded by Mexican pottery and a collection of Panamanian baskets, while gazing at the lush courtyard filled with roses, daisies, foxgloves and a block bench of coveted cement that Rodin saved as his gardener threw it away like a trash can – she jokes that “this is my Donald Judd sofa”. Something she took out of town: a large part of her collection of 150 potted plants.
And yet, with his house bought, furnished and decorated with flowers, the fantasy having become a lived reality, Rodin and Winky never felt completely settled in their new rural setting and decided to sell the house. “Winky prefers his sidewalk walks,” she says. “I didn’t mean not to keep it, but a city mouse can’t quite be a country mouse.”
“I had never designed a house before – it was the largest canvas I had ever had to work with,” she says. “I would buy it back, because that’s exactly what I wanted. It was a greeting for me, and then I realized I had to be home.
Simply put, Linda Rodin had to return to New York.
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