Milieu is a series that explores the unique ways in which we breathe life into our homes. From coastal towns to city living, our homes are a celebration of small, simple moments. They’re a reflection of our lives. Our stories. Our milieu. 

Our next feature in this series brings us to upstate New York to visit Lisa Przystup, author of Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live. Lisa and her husband live in the Western Catskills with their dog, Gus.

Described as ‘warm and lived in’, Lisa and her husband have created a home that is layered with a kind of warmth that transcends the digital nature of our home tour in a delightfully fulfilling way. Tidbits from nature and tchotchkes from their travels are brought together like storylines in this incredible homestead. We can’t wait for you to step inside!

Please, introduce yourself 🙂 

My name is Lisa Przystup. I’m a writer, my husband is a musician and we both live upstate in the Western Catskills with our dog, Gus.

Has New York State always been home for you? 

It hasn’t. I grew up outside of D.C. in Northern Virginia, then moved to Tucson for college and ended up living in Arizona for about ten years. Then I moved to Boston to get my Master’s in Journalism and after Boston I found my way to NYC where I lived for over ten years before moving upstate.

What is it about Upstate New York that you find especially captivating? 

Living smack dab in the middle of nature, being hyper aware of the changing seasons, the space, the quiet, the slowness.

What was the inspiration behind Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live

Truth be told, the concept behind the book was already in place when the publisher approached me to author it—that being said, I’ve always had a thing for interiors: specifically the different way everyone makes a house a home. I found this to be especially true living in the city—it was always so special to walk into a completely unassuming building, walk up flights of stairs and down a hallway with sketchy lighting and into someone’s apartment, the insides of which stand in sharp contrast to everything leading up to it.

What sparked your love and appreciation for architecture and design? 

I can’t think of anything specifically… before interiors my sights were set on writing and fashion so I suppose my appreciation for interior design was a natural extension of the things I loved about clothing design. Same could be said for my brief stint as a florist—I guess in the end it all comes back to design.

How would you describe the aesthetic of your home? 

Warm and lived in. Lots of tidbits from nature, a neutral(ish) palette. When we first moved in we kept things really sparse and simple—after living in a 600 square foot railroad apartment in Brooklyn for 10+ years we needed a bit of a visual breather from piles on top of piles and tchotchkes on top of tchotchkes but then as we spent more time in our home I found myself itching to add layers and warmth.

When it comes to adorning and furnishing your home, would you consider yourself a minimalist or a maximalist? 

A minimalist with maximalist tendencies? I mean, not sure if “maximalist” is the right word but collecting is definitely my Achilles Heel.

Do you have a favourite room, corner, or viewpoint in your home? 

I love posting up on our step stool in the corner of the kitchen and chatting with my husband while he cooks dinner. We’ve spent many nights in the narrow galley of our kitchen cooking and sipping, laughing, eating, listening to music, doing dishes: in the winter the windows steam up and it feels like we’re in a greenhouse. In the summer the sound of the crickets and warm air spills in through the screen door and fills the house with the outside.

August and September must be such a glorious time of year where you live. What are some of your favourite things about fall? 

I’m a summer girl at heart so I feel like I fight the transition from summer to fall tooth and nail every year. That being said, I think one of my favorite things about the shift from summer to fall is the last bloom—goldenrod and asters (and other miscellaneous flowers I don’t know the name of) explode in waves and the colors are just so beautiful. That and baking the first pie of the season. Also, the feeling of allowing yourself to turn inward and indoors.

Do you ever miss living in a big city? 

Not as much as I thought I would, which surprised me but that’s always subject to change. I do miss the autonomy that living in a city offers—the moments you have to yourself because of all the walking you do, which offers the opportunity for introspection—even when you’re not planning on it. I miss the endless stories and moments unfolding all around, which is truly something so special. It’s also a lot to be in and around on a daily basis but I think it forces you to interact with and recognize other realities and the fact that we are all human, we’re all  living our lives and stories in tandem with each other. In a world that’s increasingly digital that feels more important than ever.

Which item in your home (big, small, old, new) has the most unique story? 

The first thing that comes to mind is the tumbleweed that I rode with on my lap from Tucson on our cross country ride back east. Our car was packed to the gills and riding with it on my lap was the only way I was going to get to keep it.

Who or what are some of your biggest design inspirations? 

Obviously homes with antiques and designer pieces are beautiful but what I really love seeing/hearing about are the stories behind thrifty finds and scrappy sourcing, which is kind of the same thing I originally loved about fashion—when people would take vintage pieces and mix them with everyday basics and make them their own.

If Lisa’s feature struck a chord with you, we highly recommend finding her on Instagram and picking up a copy of her book, Upstate. In it she explores twelve unique interiors in upstate, New York. Each home is a distinct celebration of a shared approach to decoration: collections gradually accumulated, delights in the handmade, embracing the imperfect, and comfort and character valued above all. 

Browse a few of Lisa’s favourites: