Author, interior designer and longtime magazine editor Tricia Foley is constantly challenging people’s misconceptions.
Her guests from New York are often surprised with what they discover on her two-acre property along the Carmans River in Yaphank, the centerpiece of which is a 200-year-old farmhouse.
“This is Long Island?” they’ll ask.
Even those within her social circles in neighboring Bellport Village and Brookhaven Hamlet will often wonder aloud to her: Why Yaphank?
Instead of having to invite people over (which she’s happy to do) to address such questions, Foley can now direct inquisitors to her latest design book, Lifestyle: Elegant Simplicity at Home (Rizzoli, $45).
For the first time in her 28-year career as an author, she’s opening her own front door, and, with that, 13 years worth of photos and personal experiences in renovating her historic home — the former dwelling of town doctor in the 1800s — to offer style insights to her readers.
“I tried to carve out the typical, classical Long Island house,” she said Friday from her sun-splashed, southwest-facing kitchen. “There’s an outhouse, a chicken coop, a big barn in the back and a boathouse on the river facing a small island.”
“People say to me this doesn’t look like Long Island, and I say, yeah it does; you just don’t know what Long Island looks like,” she added.
A Northport native and longtime NYC resident, Foley’s house and its surrounding structures and wooded nooks have been in high demand for magazine and commercial shoots since she purchased the property 13 years ago and immediately began renovating it, from roadway to river. This is a process she chronicles in great detail in her book, pitfalls and all.
Her home off Main Street, its barn, boathouse and fall foliage have appeared in magazines such as Nautica, Martha Stewart and House Beautiful, to name just a few, with photos of its interiors and exteriors used and re-used in publications across the world.
It will also soon serve as the backdrop for a Dewar’s Whiskey ad, she noted.
So when Foley was kicking around ideas about a 10th design book, she was urged to write about the property that’s so often seen by so many in the design industry, and tell her story behind it.
What has resulted is her fastest-selling book ever, she learned on Friday.
The 208-page hardcover gets under way with a foreward by actress, philanthropist and organic farmer Isabella Rosellini of Bellport.
“Let me free-associate words that come to mind with the name ‘Tricia Foley,’ Rosellini writes. “White, orderly, clean, calm, comforting, serene, simple, inclusive, warm…Trish has found a way to communicate her observations, emotions, and thoughts in whispers, in kind of a restrained visual language. I find this language of simplicity very poetic.”
It’s then divided into chapters that carry titles like Falling in Love with a House, 50 Shades of White, At Table, and Home for the Holidays.
Next month, Foley has been invited to attend the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society’s annual holiday party fundraiser as the guest of honor, where she’ll be signing books.
Foley said the whites of her home, which appear on almost every page of the book, provide the perfect backdrop for her annual celebrations of the seasons.
Since changing seasons isn’t a phenomenon that occurs in other parts of the world, she believes it’s something that should be embraced here on Long Island within the home.
“You could put anything against white,” she said. “For instance, in a couple weeks, this place is going to be filled with greenery and branches I pull from right in the back.”
“To me, that’s what [home design] is all about,” she said. “It’s about your life.”
Top: Tricia Foley’s renovated boathouse on the Carmans River. (Credit: Marili Forastieri)