It’s not as if Joseph Abboud was looking for a new professional challenge. After all, in addition to designing two menswear collections each year, this award-winning creative director was also overseeing both his Madison Avenue store and full-scale, seasonal fashion shows. But then his daughter Ari mentioned that she was interested in flipping a house.
“Ari said, ‘What do you think, Dad?’” the longtime Bedford resident recalls of his 24-year-old Boston College graduate. “She’s taking architectural design courses at Parsons now, and given her ambition and talented eye—plus my experience—I said ‘Well, we’d make a good team! Let’s look around for a house.’”
The duo wanted to find a property they felt passionate about but also one that would make sense financially, so they enlisted the help of Lynn Abboud, Joseph’s wife and Ari’s mom, who acted as the project’s business manager. After a meeting with Ginnel Real Estate president Dan Ginnel and agent Kim Morris, the team zeroed in on a circa 1930s Bedford Village Tudor Revival that is said to include remnants of a 19th-century carriage house. “I had been driving by this place for years,” Joseph notes, “and from the road I could see that it had potential, but it needed some new landscaping to help the house nestle in to its setting.”
“The property definitely drew us, but we also thought the house itself had great bones,” adds Ari, who lives in Manhattan but commuted to Bedford for a year to work hand-in-hand with her father on the design and execution of the project. “It had a comfortable vibe that we thought would lend itself well to a renovation. We wanted to make it a place that kept the old charm but could be functional for a modern-day buyer.”
After closing the deal, the Abbouds invited builder Bob Torre, Jr. of RC Torre Construction and their personal landscaper to join their team. To enhance the curb appeal, they layered in new plantings with stonework and created a reconfigured parking court. Around the back is a hidden surprise. “Come, you’ve got to see this before it gets too dark,” Joseph says with a twinkle in his eye, as he leads the way. Stepping out onto the new stone patio, we catch sight of a private, expansive field as the sun begins to make its descent—nearly four level acres, right in the heart of the village with nary another structure in sight, save for the vintage “tea house” that overlooks the swimming pool.
Inside, Torre became an invaluable resource. “He was more than a builder; he was also an adviser,” says Joseph. Thanks to the Abbouds’ vision and Torre’s expertise, the interior now gently nods to the home’s past (think exposed beams, sliding barn doors, vintage floorboards) while simultaneously embracing a 21st-century lifestyle.
While Joseph has designed interiors for the family’s Bedford and Boston homes as well as his flagship boutique in Manhattan, other than her studio apartment, this was Ari’s first, hands-on design project, and her initial priority was color. “I really wanted it to feel peaceful and calm,” she explains. “We picked colors that are neutral but with different tones. My dad likes a little more drama—and there are places where that shows, too.”
When it came to choosing furnishings, they turned to Restoration Hardware for the bulk of the decor. “Restoration’s Greenwich staff was amazing. Remember, we weren’t staging the house but furnishing it for someone to live in,” Joseph says. “We designed and decorated so that the measurements of everything—rugs, chairs, even the height of chandeliers—were truly customized for this space.”
“Bedford, for me, is not about being grand—but rather about being inviting and charming,” says Joseph. So, the team made a point of clustering casually elegant seating around the fireplace. The cozy positioning as well as the addition of bespoke pillows and throws beckon visitors to take a seat and stay awhile. “These pillows are all custom made from my collection’s cashmeres and suit buttons,” he points out.
According to Kim Morris, the team’s new design has been transformative. “Adding a center hall and opening the wall between the kitchen and dining room flooded the first floor with sunlight, and the kitchen is now so much more conducive to cooking and entertaining.”
Perhaps nowhere is Joseph and Ari’s attention to detail more evident than in this new kitchen. “We thought: how do we sell a house for someone to come in and just bring a toothbrush?,” Joseph says. The answer was to add thoughtful, homey touches—favorite products, like olive oils, soaps, dishes, and glassware. “That’s what I think is really special about what we did,” says Ari. “We took turnkey to a new level.”
In keeping with the carriage house theme, there are eye-catching portraits of horses, equestrian-themed sculptures, and a framed antique iron grate that provides a view from the dining room to the adjacent family room where a new fireplace and sumptuous seating make for a compelling space. A barn door slides open to reveal a hallway that leads to two family bedrooms and a guest suite. A tucked-away office and nearby laundry room complete the first floor. Upstairs, the team created a luxurious master suite and a dreamy family bedroom—Ari’s favorite space because she finds it “quaint and elegant and sophisticated” all at the same time.
One of Joseph’s trademark lines about his collection is “the devil’s in the detail”—meaning the end product may look simple, but you have no idea the meticulous, deliberate time and effort required to produce it. During the yearlong process of transforming this home, he and Ari had to balance personal preferences, marketability, and budget, but ultimately, Ari says, “We just stayed true to our taste and our aesthetic—and knowing that has value in it.” The one-of-a-kind, fully furnished, designer home is listed for $3,650,000.