FIRST STEPHEN HARRIS, THEN DAVID ABELOW, DESIGN A MODERNIST HOUSE AROUND THE OWNER'S UNPARALLELED COLLECTION OF MID-20TH-CENTURY FURNISHINGS.
Shelley Leboff recalls the morning she woke up in her "very traditional house filled with very traditional furniture" in Bedford and realized it was all wrong. "I don't like anything here," she told her husband. "This is not us."
Years before, the Leboffs had lived in a pre-war Manhattan apartment handsomely appointed with modern furnishings. Its style's clean lines and lighter feel were more in sync with the couple's forward-looking tastes; Leboff hails from an artistic family (she's currently a trustee at the Katonah Museum) and her husband, Jay, is an inventor who owns three companies. When they moved to what she describes as "Ralph Lauren country," she went the whole Bedford-conservative nine yards...clearly to no avail.
Her realization that morning: "Modernism feels younger to me, more accessible and user friendly. And that was important," she explains. "At the time I had three young kids and two dogs." (Jared and Ariel have since moved on to college, and only Spencer, the Leboffs' 17-year-old son, remains home).
So Leboff sold everything and started collecting mid-century modern furniture. That was 15 years ago, when the trend was still in its infancy and she could snap up important pieces at relatively low prices. "It was very easy to do then, unlike now," she says.
The collection boasts an impressive array of the era's most iconic names from Europe and the U.S. Representing France is a Ribbon chair by Pierre Paulin; from Italy, an Arco lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and Medea dining chairs by Vittorio Nobili.