In Residence: Stanley and Judy Frankel

Stanley and Judy Frankel cultivate their love of folk art at a farmhouse retreat


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Judy Frankel snuggles with pet Nugget (left); The shed is crowned by a horse weathervane (right).

 

A city house and a country place — it’s the classic real-estate dream and a living arrangement that lets us indulge in a décor style that’s a refreshing departure from our primary residence.

For Judy Frankel, the Troy-based antiques dealer, furnishing a weekend estate in the country led to collecting and displaying folk art, which she appreciates for its “primitive, elegant quality.”

Her folk-art pieces created by “unschooled” artists are “textural and not shiny,” which is their main appeal, she says. Eyeing the decorative array at the Metamora Township farmhouse she shares with her husband, Stanley, she adds that some pieces are actually shiny. Like acknowledging the assets of another child, she points to her majolica collection, each piece with a glazed sheen. “Well, I do like shine, too, especially in these French majolica wire pieces,” she says.

The view through windows showcasing the couple’s expansive acreage seems to agree with her. Lush greens and a cerulean sky complement one of Judy’s favorite majolica bowls.

A bird sings, its sweet notes blending with gently rustling leaves. “This is all we hear when we’re here,” Judy says of the farm they purchased 24 years ago.

“Well, there is the neighbor’s rooster,” Stanley adds, smiling. “Did you hear it this morning?” That country menagerie of sound includes a dog barking, a horse neighing, and the clip-clop of hooves trotting along the dirt road in what’s known locally as horse country. If they hear a car, they consider it “traffic.” It’s that quiet at their weekend residence, which is less than an hour away from their Bloomfield Township address.

The farmhouse — named “Dar-Lyn Farm” (an abbreviated combination of their middle names, Darryl and Lynn), which sounds a lot like darlin’ — brims with antiques.

“I loved buying things for this home,” Judy says. That enthusiasm created an overflow. Her need of a place for those items led to the 1991 founding of Judy Frankel Antiques, which occupied various locations before she finally opened the Antiques Centre of Troy about 12 years ago. 

 

   

Stained glass graces a wall on the sun porch; nearby are 19th-century farm utensils (left); Equestrian-themed objects star at the Frankel home, including a carved horse from Morocco; the 19th-century dolls, made of everything from walnut to wax to fabric, are from the 1880s to 1910 (center); Late 19th-century “whimsies,” made by Native Americans for the tourist trade, adorn the table (right).

 

“I had a good time furnishing the farmhouse; it’s fun finding things and learning about them,” Judy says. One of her first purchases for the Metamora home, which is furnished with primarily contemporary furniture (“low maintenance,” Judy explains), was a whirligig. Equestrian-themed accents also appear throughout the interior. (Stanley, who has ridden horses since childhood, kept horses at the farm until recently.)

Early 20th-century horse-themed, hand-hooked American rugs, which are displayed on the walls, intrigue Judy. “They’re not made from a kit; they’re free-form, made from things sitting around — strips of fabric — not just yarn.” 

Several hand-colored hunting prints by English illustrator and huntsman Cecil Aldin contribute to the equestrian accents, as does a large horse weathervane that occupies a place of honor in the dining room.

Nearby is a collection of antique dolls with faces made of a range of materials, from wax to walnuts. Several 19th-century celluloid autograph books adorn a hallway table of the 1880 home. 

“The outside footprint is still as we bought it, but the inside had a bunch of little dark rooms,” Judy says. “Before we bought it, Stanley asked me what I thought of the house. I said, ‘Nice. If we buy it, I’ll probably just redo the kitchen cabinetry.’ ” As so often happens, however, they found themselves gutting the interior to create a more light-filled space.

During the overhaul, they discovered original floorboards of “hand-hewn logs with paper and cotton as insulation,” says Stanley, a commercial real-estate developer.

In that freshly opened interior, visitors can’t miss a tall, vintage folk-art santo (spiritual statue) painted in a rustic blue from its position atop the coffee table, where it seems to hold court.

“How you display the items is key to appreciating the beauty and uniqueness of each piece,” Judy says.  

Beauty is something the couple routinely appreciate in their pastoral surroundings. Judy likes to take in the views (indoors and out) while enjoying her morning coffee or reading a book. Stanley throws himself into working on his tractors, mowing the acreage, and pruning trees to better showcase views from the back patio and family room.

“It’s all one needs for therapy, really,” Stanley says. “There’s something about being here, on a farm, or in a barn.”

 

A vintage rocking horse draws the eye, as does a pretty quilt that hangs nearby (left); Nugget enjoys the grounds of the Frankel farmhouse (right).

 

photographs by cybelle codish

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