Imrana Sayed and Wick O’Brien have made their beautiful house by building and decorating in and onto an existing house in Staten Island. They bought their house many years ago but over time have changed it. Wick is a skilled builder. He redid the kitchen, tore off the roof, built stairs, and made the attic into a master bedroom with attached bath. Imrana is skilled at sewing. She regularly sews clothes or makes toys (like stuffed bears) for children. She sewed slip covers for couches and chairs as well as creating all the curtains. I think the couch they are sitting in is about to get a remake! Imrana also did a lot of the less skilled work that required patience and persistence, like stripping layers of paint from the original wood and refinishing it. Then, she decorated the house with found objects and friends’ artwork. I have experienced their hospitality in the house more times than I can count and it’s always like coming home.
Dining room. Painting by Mike Hamilton. For more beautiful paintings go to his website mikehamiltonpaintings.com Disclosure: He’s the father of my children, too. Makes beautiful kids and paintings!
Below is the dining room wall opposite Mike’s painting. The cross in the corner was actually a wooden mould for metal pipes.
A corner of the living room. My painting of a lamplit street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was done at night in winter, under a street light and wearing many layers of clothing.
I saw this whimsical, carved and painted fence when I was bicycling around the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. Although this is on the outside of the house, I consider gardens and fences to be part of the house so I included it in this part of the conversation.
Betsy Bennett is an actor, comedian, writer and also my sister-in-law. She decorated her apartment in an idiosyncratic way, with family heirlooms plus objects and artwork she found at thrift stores and flea markets. I found it delightful to stay at her home when I went to visit. In every nook there was a surprise!
For a taste of Betsy’s most recent comedy, “Assisted Living: The Musical” go to http://www.comptonandbennett.com
Although I love traveling, I am always happy to come home.