We are thrilled to alert you all to the fantastic book Lisa Przystup has been hard at work on this past year, Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live. The timing of this book seems beyond serendipitous as this past year, spent mainly at home, has caused most to reckon with their spaces and high-tail it out of the city. This collection of characterful interiors, from both sides of the Hudson, photographed by Sarah Elliott, will leave you wanting to do the same (if you haven’t already).
In celebration of the release of the book, Lisa let us peek into her own upstate home (which is also featured in the book) and chatted with us all about the importance of interiors.
How do you define ‘home’?
Home for me is a place where you can be entirely yourself—the good, the bad, the ugly—because it’s where you feel the safest. A place that you find yourself returning to. A place that serves as a sanctuary, where all the pieces of your life live. It’s where you cook, eat, sleep, celebrate, laugh, grieve—a place that’s seen you at your best and at your worst.
Why did you choose to specifically focus on upstate New York when writing this book?
The short, honest, unromantic answer is that this was the concept the publisher approached me with. The framework was already in place before I was even tapped to write the book BUT in an alternate reality where I pitched upstate to the publisher, my pitch would go something like this, “Upstate has always been a big part of our lives. When my husband (who’s from Syracuse) and I first met it’s where we would escape to on the regular—he got his masters at SUNY New Paltz so he had a solid crew and community of friends in the area that we kept in touch with. Then we bought a house in the Western Catskills and our social circles in the city all started expanding into various far flung towns upstate.”
How did you choose which homes and people you wanted to profile? Was there something about each particular home that spoke to you?
There really isn’t a thriving restaurant or bar scene so the majority of socializing happens in people’s backyards or their homes (which is actually so, so nice—it feels like such a wonderfully intimate way to connect with people) so right off the bat both Sarah and I knew of handful of homes of friends and acquaintances that we had been in or heard of that we felt would be a good fit for the book. We also threw out a cattle call on IG asking for recommendations and the rest we sourced by digging around online. And yes, I left each and every home with a long list of inspiration and design ideas. After every home we shot I’d be like, “Huh, maybe I should try to do X, Y or Z in our house.” Each place had something special about it (and it was usually the smallest thing—like a faucet or a lime wash recipe or a vase full of dried flowers or various collections of tchotchkes).
The book almost feels voyeuristic as now we rarely go into other people’s homes. How do you think the past year is going to shape people’s decisions regarding their homes?
Oh that’s such a good question. I mean, I can’t speak for everyone else but I can say spending all this time at home has done a couple things for us:
1. Given us a deeper understanding of how we use and interact with our home. We’ve rethought how we use the different spaces in our home. For example, the attic used to be a guest bedroom but now that we’re not really hosting and both working from home we’ve repurposed it into an office space/music studio/print studio.
2. It’s the little things that matter. I think that I found myself really being drawn to and needing things that provided comfort: a soft blanket with nice weight, a good smelling candle, incense, warm slippers—stuff like that. Things that appeal to the senses.
What is your relationship to your own home upstate? Is it ever evolving? Do you feel like you’re always ‘in conversation with it?”
Ha! I feel like I inadvertently answered that in the previous question. Whoops. But I guess that yes, our home does feel like it’s always evolving—much to my husbands chagrin—he’s more of a “We put that bed there and that’s where it’s going to live…FOREVER,” kind of guy whereas I’m always moving and rearranging and changing my mind about things. When we first moved in we were both so eager to have everything be exactly where it should be and have it feel finished that we made a bunch of decisions in a short amount of time, before we even got to know the place. Then like a year in I’d realize that that chair didn’t make sense in that corner or that the dining room made more sense where the living room was etc. So definitely an ongoing conversation.
Get your copy of Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live here!