Peek Inside Latonya Yvette’s Upstate New York Rest And Rejuvenation Retreat

by Lisa Butterworth

When writer LaTonya Yvette first began working on her upcoming book, Stand in My Window: Meditations on Home and How We Make It (September 2024, The Dial Press), she was not a homeowner. As a lifelong New York City renter and single mom with two kids, purchasing a house upstate, “was this rite of passage that did not feel available to me,” she says. Yvette researched it obsessively, saved her book advance as a down payment, and then took advantage of first-time home buyers’ programs to get a 173-year-old colonial-style house in Athens on the Hudson River, which she dubbed The Mae House. 

But she envisioned the house as more than just hers. “I’m one of five kids, so my whole identity has been rooted in sharing space and sharing land,” she says. She was also inspired by Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer to create a place for community, where other people could enjoy the house and its land. After closing escrow in May 2021, she spent six months renovating and decorating. “The house was like a canvas,” Yvette says. “This is my living art project.” Now, she stays there about once a month, welcomes short-term renters (most of whom are families, artists, and people of color), and once a season, she donates a stay to a BIPOC family as part of her Rest as Residency program. “It just feels like such a safe space,” Yvette says. “[The house] feels like it’s going to take care of you.” 

The refurbished dining table came from a high school’s art room and is etched with the hearts, drawings, and musings of teenagers. 
Ninety percent of the home’s furnishings are vintage. “There’s a story behind every single thing,” says Yvette.
Yvette considered community while renovating, too, opting for items from Black-owned companies or sustainable brands, like Fireclay Tile, a certified Benefit Corporation. 
Yvette turned the primary bedroom’s closet into this meditative soaking space with a clawfoot tub and a giant monstera.
Mae is the middle name of Yvette’s daughter and grandmother. 

 

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