“I’ve always felt a little country, even when I was in big cities,” says Rachael Petach. “Moving to a rural town has been like coming home to myself.” She lives with her husband, Steve, and their son, Theo, in Germantown, New York. “Everyone here waves to each other while driving or walking, so Theo has grown up thinking that’s just what you do. The first time we went down to Manhattan together, he tried to wave at every person, car, bus and pigeon.” Here, she gives us a tour…
Rattan loveseat and chair: old Pier 1, from Rachael’s grandmother, spray painted with Rust-Oleum semi-gloss black. Bench: from a barn sale.
On finding the one: I grew up in California, and this house reminds me of the craftsman homes out there. It’s a classic early 1900s kit home, and when I first walked in, I was like, Have I been in this exact model before?! I love the hardwood floors, large windows, and massive front porch.
On the family dog: Ramona is a Border Collie Great Pyrenees mix, who came to us from a nearby farm. She’s very sweet and emotionally attached. If you leave for five minutes, you’ll come back to her flopping on the floor like you’ve been gone for years.
On Hudson Valley favorites: We’re lucky to live right down the road from Gaskins, a great restaurant in Germantown. And there are also great shops, like Luddite, Alder & Co., and Mary MacGill, within walking distance. Yesterday, we rode our bikes to Tivoli General, a sweet little market that makes lunches and has market provisions. Next door is Tivoli Mercantile. And Rose Hill Farm is a cidery on a big, beautiful property in Red Hook.
On a kid-friendly layout: The house has a circular layout on the ground floor, which is great for having a young kid and a dog, since they run laps while we’re cooking or hanging out.
Coffee table: Rachael’s grandmother’s mission table, similar. Toy storage: Ikea. Triangle floor mat: Amazon. Painting: Tanya Merrill. Sheepskin: Saipua. Hand-painted Moroccan tiles: MoroccanTileShop. Wood stove: TrueNorth. Chair: vintage folding chair, similar.
On a TV alternative: I find TVs hung on the wall to be visually distracting — they take up so much real estate! A projector is a way to eliminate that. Plus, there’s a fun pageantry to the whole process, which I love.
On an open-door policy: We have amazing neighbors, so we’ll often invite them over for cocktails and then hang out while the kids play. I love impromptu hangs. I came home the other day and there were 15 people here, and my husband was just like, ‘I was in the mood to cook a bunch of burgers.’
On low-stress entertaining: My biggest tip is to make food that doesn’t have to be hot or super composed to be beautiful and delicious. Grain salads are perfect — you can make it ahead of time and just add greens and dressing right as you’re sitting down. Grilled chicken can be totally great at room temperature. I learned a lot from working events with chef Sean Rembold, where he’d design menus that worked even though 150 guests never sit when you want them to. (He and his wife Caron now have a Brooklyn restaurant called Inga’s Bar.)
On family heirlooms: We use a vintage dry sink as a bar cart. Like a lot of our furniture, it’s from my grandmother. She collected beautiful objects, and when I was growing up she would say, ‘One day, you can have this in your house.’ She died in 2019; we love living with her pieces. She had big energy and a big personality.
On Basil the cat (on windowsill): I run C. Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur company. Last summer, we went to pick up some spirits from our distiller, and they said, ‘Kittens were just born under our porch, do you want to meet them?’ We immediately fell in love with Basil. Now he and our dog are inseparable. They wrestle and play like best friends.
Paint: Benjamin Moore in Simply White.
On birthing a business: When I was pregnant, I played around with low-alcohol and no-alcohol things that tasted like what I liked to drink: earthy, yeasty, herbal, not sweet. Remembering fresh blackcurrants from a time I spent farming in France, I fell down a rabbit hole and started making very small batches of blackcurrant liqueur for friends and joking about it becoming a company. Then I got in touch with Greg Quinn, who’s basically the godfather of blackcurrants in the Northeast, and things took off from there. C. Cassis was born alongside my son.
On perfect drinks: The easiest thing to do with C. Cassis is to make a spritz. There are endless variations, but here’s my favorite: 1 oz C. Cassis, 1 oz dry vermouth, 4 oz seltzer, 2 olives, 1 orange slice. Just mix everything over ice and enjoy.
On making a cloud bed: When Theo outgrew his crib, I asked him to describe his dream bed. He said, ‘Like a cloud, but water, and low, so my animals can get on and off.’ I drew up a design, he approved the plans, and my husband and I built it out of plywood. It’s a simple platform with two wavy edges, and we all love it.
On tiny obsessions: Theo is into pirates, Lego, baking, costumes… and Black Sabbath. He is constantly singing and performing Black Sabbath songs. My husband also loves Black Sabbath, but now he’s like, ‘I’m actually getting tired of this song,’ and Theo’s like, ‘I’m not!’
On using real tools: We got Theo’s work bench when he was much smaller and wasn’t able to use real tools, but still wanted to pretend to. He has since learned how to use a few, like a hammer, and he’s really, really responsible with them.
On bedroom colors: Yellow is my favorite color — I find it uplifting yet calming.
Wallpaper: Work + Sea.
On winding down: At the end of the day, I try to carve out time for a quiet solo activity, whether that’s reading, taking a bath, or watering the garden.
On work/life balance: Having kids makes it difficult to work the long hours that you often need for entrepreneurship. ‘How will I make this work?’ became my biggest question when I was pregnant. With C. Cassis, I try to keep the work schedule as reasonable as possible, with my team working 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., four days a week. Being able to finish the day at a time where you’re still able to take a walk, see friends, or do something for yourself feels important.
Chairs: Wayfair. Table: handmade by Rachael and Steve.
On a different business model: Earlier in my career, I worked hard and put in long hours for other people’s projects. I was thirsty for the experience and knowledge. You learn a lot that way, but at the end of the day, it isn’t yours. With C. Cassis, we’re exploring paths to collective ownership. I want to make sure our growth also benefits my team.
On backyard fun: Last summer, it was getting so hot, and I was like, a stock tank tub needs to happen right now! I called my favorite store, Tractor Supply, and luckily they had the right size. We filled it with hose water and took a cold plunge. We’re thinking of eventually turning it into a hot tub if we can score a secondhand scuba stove somewhere. (Please share any leads!)
Thanks so much for sharing your home, Rachael!
(Photos by John Gruen.)
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