Kevin McKenzie and Martine van Hamel had been standing in the eating room of their weekend home in Woodstock, N.Y., attempting to determine once they received married.
“We’ve been living together 35 years, 36 years or something, but we got married relatively recently,” mentioned Mr. McKenzie, 68, who’s retiring in December after 30 years as the inventive director of American Ballet Theater. (The firm’s summer season season at the Metropolitan Opera — nearly his swan music — runs by way of July 16.)
“Living together 34 years,” corrected Ms. van Hamel, 76, who, like her husband, was a principal dancer with A.B.T. She nonetheless performs character roles there and teaches ballet at Kaatsbaan, a cultural park in Tivoli, N.Y., that she and Mr. McKenzie helped present in 1990.
“But when did we get married? I have to do the math. Your mother was dead by then, right?” Mr. McKenzie requested.
“I cannot remember,” he added, with a rueful snort.
Hmm. The marriage ceremony was about seven years in the past, Mr. McKenzie estimated. Six years in the past, Ms. van Hamel guessed.
Never thoughts. They are in whole settlement about their dwelling in Woodstock. With all due respect to their rental on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, there actually isn’t any place finer. For Mr. McKenzie, it’s a respite from a high-pressure job in a high-pressure metropolis. For Ms. van Hamel, it’s a hyperlink to her mother and father, Diederik and Manette, the earlier house owners.
When Diederik, a globe-trotting Dutch diplomat, was posted to Toronto in the Sixties, retirement was shut and so was Woodstock, the place Manette, additionally from the Netherlands, had spent an idyllic half of her childhood.
They started making periodic visits and, in 1967, purchased a two-acre property with a diminutive, low-ceilinged home, a creek and a number of outbuildings, together with a hen coop and a cottage that subsequently grew to become a rental unit. There was additionally a root cellar. Like the home, it was in-built 1904, however not like the home, it boasted a dependably constant temperature of 55 levels, making it perfect for its present use as a wine cellar. “But we don’t have that much wine,” confessed Ms. van Hamel.
Kevin McKenzie, 68, and Martine van Hamel, 76
Occupations: He is the inventive director of American Ballet Theater; she is a former principal dancer with A.B.T. and now teaches ballet.
Getting there may be half the enjoyable: “We have a New York City life, and obviously there’s the A.B.T. job with all the hustle and bustle, but the drive between Manhattan and Woodstock is up the Palisades and through some state parks, so it’s like a Zen experience,” Mr. McKenzie mentioned. “And by the time you get here, you’re ready to actually drink in the calm.”
Initially, her mother and father used the property as a weekend retreat. They grew to become full-time residents in 1972, after some changes — amongst them, elevating a ceiling to create a loft studio for Manette, a violinist and pianist turned artist. Diederik constructed himself a workshop the place he made violins; it’s now a exercise studio.
At some level, Mr. McKenzie started displaying up at the home with Ms. van Hamel. He was, admittedly, not the first man, and even the second, to be accorded the privilege, however he stood out from the corps.
“It seems that I had the unique distinction of being the only boyfriend Martine brought home that her mother approved,” mentioned Mr. McKenzie, who returned the regard (though with no visitor room in the most important home, he and Ms. van Hamel had been routinely billeted in the hen coop).
As half of the fiftieth marriage ceremony anniversary celebration for Diederik and Manette, Mr. McKenzie and Ms. van Hamel had a swimming pool constructed for them. And someplace alongside the manner, Mr. McKenzie grew to become Manette’s landscaping acolyte.
“She taught me what it meant to garden, instead of kill plants,” he mentioned. His costs now embody practically 4 dozen timber, amongst them peach and apple, dogwood and copper beech, birch and white pine, in addition to hydrangea and peony bushes. Ms. van Hamel weeds and harvests. She yanked some arugula for a latest lunch.
Diederik and Manette got here, noticed, purchased and renovated; Mr. McKenzie and Ms. Hamel adopted go well with. “We had been visiting literally every weekend, and sometimes for weeks in the summer,” Mr. McKenzie mentioned. “And rather than find our own place, at some point we thought, ‘Why don’t we expand this one and make it more geriatric-friendly?’”
In 2000, greater than a decade after Diederik’s loss of life, Mr. McKenzie and Ms. van Hamel purchased the property from Manette, who stayed on fortunately till her passing in 2012. They started a transforming challenge, partly to make the first ground simpler for her to navigate; there had beforehand been shallow steps resulting in nearly each room. The couple added a bed room and rest room for themselves a couple of stairs up from the loft studio — so lengthy, hen coop! — in addition to a nook they name the Zen room, with home windows overlooking the property.
The result’s an area that’s hovering and intimate, ethereal and comfortable with swish traces — simply as Mr. McKenzie conceived it.
“I’d always had the dream of building my own house, but this one was already halfway there,” he mentioned. “I knew if we did it right we’d be able to be carried out of here feet first.”
By design, the décor is consultant of each present and former residents. The front room nods to Mr. McKenzie’s fondness for Mission-style furnishings; an vintage Stickley chair is a very prized piece. The loft studio has change into his dwelling workplace, the place he works at Diederik’s outdated desk. A built-in show case in the Zen room holds items of sculptural jewellery made by Manette.
The eating room, Ms. van Hamel mentioned, seems to be very a lot because it did in her mother and father’ day. The chest, the eating desk and chairs, all antiques, got to Manette and Diederik as marriage ceremony items. Manette’s nonobjective geometric work hold on the double-height partitions and in the visitor room on the first ground.
Some of her work had been conceived as backyard ornaments — the summary shapes add curiosity to the pure kinds of the surrounding shrubbery. “They tend to fade and get kind of splotchy, so I have to bring them inside and repaint them,” Ms. van Hamel mentioned. “There are still many things to take care of from my parents’ time.”
That she and Mr. McKenzie would plant deep roots in the property was obvious to Manette early on. “She caught on to it before we did,” Mr. McKenzie mentioned. “She observed my behavior, and she observed Martine and me together in this wonderful outdoor space she and Dik created,” Mr. McKenzie mentioned, referring to the patio exterior the entrance door. “And she said, ‘I see the two of you sitting there 30 years from now.’”
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