A home that pops with color
On Location: A four-bedroom getaway looks like a real-life representation of the owner's company website, Fab.com.
The New York Times
SPARROWBUSH, N.Y. — When it was time for Bradford Shellhammer to look for furniture and accessories for the weekend home he shares with his partner, Georgi Balinov, he didn't have to look far. As a founder and chief design officer of the design-centric flash-sale retailer Fab.com, he spends his days surrounded by home furnishings.
"I have a shopping problem, always have," said Shellhammer, 36, who might be one of his company's best customers. "I pieced together the house on Fab," he said, choosing nesting tables by Josef Albers for the living room, Quinze & Milan furniture for the pool area, painted baseball bats to stock a gun cabinet that came with the house and even turkey taxidermy for a kitchen wall, among other things.
Indeed, the 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house looks like a real-life representation of his company's website, with carefully edited arrangements of furnishings in eye-popping hues.
"I love color," said Shellhammer, who was wearing bright purple pants and aquamarine sneakers on a recent afternoon. "I think it's very important to live with color. If you don't like color, I feel bad for you."
He and Balinov, who live in New York City during the week, bought the house in February for $285,000 after Shellhammer stumbled on the listing online. Although they were unfamiliar with the area, which is in Orange County, N.Y., near a private hunting club ("We hear gunshots a lot," Shellhammer said), the house was just what they were looking for: an early 1960s structure with a midcentury feeling and enough room for friends.
But it needed a complete renovation. And Balinov, an investment banker, was more than happy to let Shellhammer run wild.
"Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the house is his vision and his talent — it is very Bradford," said Balinov, 29. "As our relationship has evolved, I have fallen in love with his taste and his style."
He is apparently not alone. Since Shellhammer helped start Fab.com last June, it has become a runaway success: It says it now has more than 5.5 million members and employs more than 400 people, selling an average of 3.4 products a minute. And last month, the company announced it had raised $105 million in new funding, in addition to previous funds totaling $51 million, as it continues to expand.
To undertake the renovation, Shellhammer hired a contractor, who added two bathrooms (for a total of four), transformed an unfinished basement into a games room, and reconfigured bedrooms and the main staircase in just 10 weeks (work on the exterior continues). Unlike many new homeowners, who consider gutting kitchens and bathrooms a priority, Shellhammer sought to preserve the rosewood kitchen cabinets and the colored porcelain fixtures in the bathrooms, while taking a more targeted approach to updates.
"It needed a lot of surface work, but the guts, vibe and energy of the house were still perfect," said Shellhammer, who expects to have spent $150,000-$200,000 by the time the construction dust settles.
The reward for such a speedy renovation is that he and Balinov already have a rural getaway where they can welcome friends from the city, and they didn't have to miss a single summer.
In New York, "your friendships exist in two hours at dinner, at a bar or at a show," Shellhammer said. "You never do anything with people of substantial quality or time.
"For us, the idea is to pick three or four people and actually make meals with them, watch movies and play games. That's the kind of thing we crave."