LOUDONVILLE — With vacation canceled and children at home, Dr. Erin Crosby decided earlier this year it was time to transform the yard of her Loudonville home into a place where the whole family could hang out.
After pulling out trees, replacing the fence, installing a sandbox and more, it’s become a new destination.
“I have a pool back there and a little patio, so they just made it a place where now instead of only being out there on the occasion we went swimming, we all hang out there because there’s stuff for my kids to do, too. That’s been really great,” Crosby said.
She started the project in late spring, replacing overgrown landscaping, plant a few apple trees and a few easy-to-maintain plants. They also installed a fire pit, which the family can use well into the chillier months, and a sandbox to make it more of a play area.
“We had some vacation trips planned and I said that the backyard was where we were going to be spending a lot of time, so it was a good time to do that project,” Crosby said.
Inside the home, which she moved into about six years ago, Crosby has also been transforming the space, working with Marrianne Clifford of Marianne Ashley Designs. Clifford typically specializes in kitchen and bath design, though with this project she’s gone well beyond that, helping to rethink and reimagine the spaces.
“She’s helping me with some of the decorating, painting, replacing carpet in the dining room and living area, and then in my stairwell and upstairs. … It’s more the superficial finishing and decorating touches,” Crosby said. “And none of these decisions cost a lot of money, so I like that.”
Since purchasing the home, Crosby has had to complete a few major renovations in the kitchen and basement, both of which she worked on with Clifford. The kitchen features white cabinets and dark countertops for a clean look, topped off with updated appliances.
Crosby said she turns to Clifford for these projects because the designer makes it a point to understand Crosby’s aesthetic preferences and priorities, and interior design is not something Crosby feels she has a knack for.
“It’s definitely not my thing. I’m someone who really enjoys a clean, neat, comfortable space, but I do not know anything [about] creating one. She’s come up with some really fun, interesting things that I ended up loving,” Crosby said.
One of the most recent additions is a moss wall made by a local floral artist named Eve Bucwinski, owner of Garden of Eve in Ballston Lake.
“That is one of the favorite things that I have in my house right now. It’s just a really neat piece of art that’s done locally,” Crosby said.
It hangs over the fireplace and makes the space look more modern and family-friendly, marking a change from when Crosby first moved into the house.
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“My house was … the house of a well-established older professional couple. So things were more formal. I’m a single mom with three kids. They like color,” Crosby said.
They took out the formal dining table and replaced it with a rustic farmhouse table, with chairs on one side and a bench on the other so kids could easily slide in and out. They also added a retro sideboard to the room.
“She’s helped me find some wall art and then figurines, things that aren’t gaudy or cluttering but still have what I didn’t know turns out to be my style,” Crosby said.
Lately, Clifford, who works on projects around the Capital Region, has been seeing more people make changes to their home.
“A lot of people are trying to make their houses [nicer]. They’re stuck at home. You might as well beautify the space you’re going to be stuck in and really make it enjoyable,” Clifford said, “You can’t do anything really — you can’t travel, you’re not going on your vacation. You might as well just invest in your own house. It’s better money spent anyway.”
In the past few months, Crosby and Clifford have met mostly outside or via video call.
“Right now we’re working on painting her kids’ rooms and the upstairs hallways, and her bedroom, before the next wave comes,” Clifford said.
Clifford has done projects on and off in Crosby’s home for the past two years, and in that time the home has done an aesthetic 180.
“It feels like a different house. … I love it. I love coming home every day,” Crosby said.
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