(Photos by John Gruen.)
“We just got a puppy named Mango,” announces author Maggie Pouncey, who lives with her husband, Matt, and their sons, Dominic and Felix, in Rhinebeck, New York. “Our pets are all named after stone fruits — our other dog is Apricot, and our cats are Peach and Plum.” Here, Maggie gives us a tour around the happy chaos…
On pink paint: We rented apartments for many years, and this house is the first place we’ve ever owned. We can finally make the space just how we want it, so I went for it with the pink! I hoped our living room would be an oasis but also welcoming for the kid crew. Odessa Pink by Benjamin Moore felt right.
Armchairs: vintage from Holler and Squall. Pillows: Block Shop. Rug: vintage from Breuckelen Berber. Bookcases: Built-in by previous owners. Floor lamp: Schoolhouse. Desk: CB2. Painting: by Wolf Kahn.
On happy reunions: The painting above the desk is by Wolf Kahn, and the painting above the fireplace is by Emily Mason, his wife. They were friends with my parents when I was growing up. When my parents got divorced, my mom got the Emily Mason painting and my dad got the Wolf Khan painting. Now, the two paintings are back together in my house.
Print: Amanda Jane Jones. Chair: hand-me-down.
On family heirlooms: We have hand-me-down furniture from my parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. It’s funny because it gets hard to judge them aesthetically. Sometimes I’m like ‘Do I even like that chair?’ But I have such a warm attachment to everything. We have a giant chest passed down from my great grandmother, and it still has a slight scent of her perfume, which is so wild. Once in a while you get a waft.
On a new chapter: I ran a children’s bookstore, Stories, in Brooklyn for five years. In 2021, the pandemic had taken its toll, and we had to close. When you create something you love, letting go is so hard. You have to let yourself grieve. Especially when it’s a physical space that isn’t there anymore, it feels so gone. But figuring out a new adventure was very healing and helpful.
Desk: “My dad’s writing desk.” Lamp: hand-me-down. Bookshelves: built-in by previous owners.
On the magic of children’s books: My first novel came out when my older son Felix was born, and I experienced a very confusing identity shift. Before motherhood, I thought I was going to write fiction for adults my entire life. But at the end of my maternity leave, I had this four-month-old baby, and I realized, ‘No way can I write another novel.’ I felt lost. But in that time, I really fell in love with current children’s books. There is so much diversity. A kid interested in the adventures of a girls’ basketball team or climate-related dystopian fantasies can find great books that speak to them — books that are mirrors to help them feel seen and windows into other worlds. That’s what led me to open Stories, and from there, write A Fort on the Moon.
Cabinet: vintage. Lamp: hand-me-down. Flowers painting: “Was my grandmother’s, painted by her friend Abram Lerner.”
On decorating a big space: We’re still figuring out the best spots for things. As a writer, I really like tinkering with sentences, just playing and moving words around. And rearranging the pieces in our home feels similar. Even just the act of doing that makes the house feel loved and lived in.
On a special table: When Matt and I got married, my mom and stepfather gave us this dining table. My mom had gotten an oval dining table as a wedding present, and it was such a source of joy for her. She used it for countless family dinners and parties, so that was her vision for us. Our 20th anniversary is this May, and this table now holds many sweet memories and family moments.
Cabinet and counters: “1990s formica, baby!”
On a primary colors: The previous owners designed their kitchen in the ‘90s and it has a real vintage vibe. When people walk into the kitchen for the first time, they’re like, ‘Whoa.’ My artist friends say, ‘Never change this!’ while other people are like, ‘How do you live in this craziness?’ But it brings me joy. I appreciate that the previous owners really went for it.
Pendant lights and dining table: left by previous owners. Chairs: Serena & Lily, “Originally bought for the Storytelling Lab at Stories.”
On hosting: For large parties, I like setting out a buffet in the kitchen, where everyone can help themselves. Then I can avoid feeling at the end of the night like I didn’t get to have a real conversation with anyone!
Framed tapestry: family heirloom. Bookcase: thrifted. Runner: Block Shop.
On family hangs: We play a lot of board and card games. We also just listened to all the Harry Potter audiobooks. It was the sweetest evening tradition and so cozy in the winter. We also like listening to The Westing Game, a fun murder mystery with a Knives Out vibe.
Paint: Peacock Feathers by Benjamin Moore. Bedding: Dazed but Amazed. Pillow covers: Les Indiennes. Table lamp: Design Within Reach. Night stand: family heirloom. Painting of flowers: by Leanne Shapton.
On bedtime reads: Recently I absolutely loved You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith. It’s beautifully structured — she writes about small moments that add up to life story.
On bedroom blues: Our bedroom looks green in the sunlight and blue at night; I find it very peaceful. The boys also ended up choosing blues in similar but different shades — which is in keeping with them as brothers.
On a nine-year-old’s touch: Dominic put up glow-in-the-dark stars, and he requested a Beatles poster. He plays the ukulele and learned to play all these Beatles songs and Carter family folk songs. There’s something very, very sweet about a little kid playing folk music.
On raising preteens: My kids are 10 and 14, which is an intense time of life. As a parent, I’ve been working on really listening and not offering my opinion — which is hard, because I have a lot of opinions. But I think once kids get to the preteen years, they know how you think about things and they don’t need constant feedback. Felix and I once had this moment where I said, ‘Felix, I’m just a little concerned…’ And he interrupted me by saying, ‘Mom, you’re literally always just a little concerned.’ So, it’s a work in progress.
Print: An Education, by Shawn Fields.
On nostalgic mementos: This print used to hang in Stories’s storytelling lab, so families who went to story time will recognize it. Now it’s in our upstairs hallway and I just love it. It captures the child’s complete absorption in the book, even though you can’t really see their face. It brings back that childhood feeling of being in my cozy bed with a good book.
On raising readers: There’s a nook at the top of our staircase, where we put a couch and beanbags. With reading, I try to follow each child’s lead. There’s often some subject that they’re obsessed with, and they will just read and read and read — whether it’s dinosaurs or graphic novels. I know there’s a lot of anxiety around getting our kids to read, but I think reading is fundamentally such a joyful thing. Like, we don’t worry about whether our kids will get into Netflix, we just trust they’ll enjoy it. And books can be just as pleasurable for kids once they get swept up into them.
Thank you so much, Maggie! xoxo
P.S. More house tours, including a spaceship apartment and a farmhouse built for Black joy.
(Photos by John Gruen.)