Only a half-hour drive from the edge of New York City, the road to it winds around a frozen lake with the snow-covered pine trees reminiscent of an Alpine landscape.   ‘I typically like to move every eight years so that I can redecorate and I’ve looked around but I can’t find another house that makes me as happy as this one does,’ says Michael. It’s an extraordinary home, packed, as you would expect with curious and beautiful artefacts. Take the tour – and when you’re done, don’t miss more of the world’s best homes on our dedicated page.  Michael’s original motive in finding a new home was to move closer to his office in the city. ‘I lived 40 blocks away and it could take forever to get there,’ he says.  Tipped off about the historic houses in Tuxedo Park, Michael viewed five in one day, returning to buy one a week later.  ‘Tuxedo has so many beautiful old homes it’s almost like living in a historic house museum park,’ he says, laughing.  He now shares the house with Alexander, his partner of 20 years, and two handsome retrievers, Boris and Natasha.  Built by the notable American architect John Russell Pope, the red-brick mansion is credited as one of his first domestic works. ‘It’s like owning a great piece of history and architecture at the same time,’ says Michael. ‘The house has a very modern floor plan for one built in 1901. There’s a lot of circulation and connecting doors as well as doors to the outside.’ 

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Much of the house’s appeal was that it retained its original state with only the kitchen and two bathrooms altered.  Famous for his aesthetic sensibility, Michael determined that the kitchen had to be gutted immediately.  ‘I couldn’t even live with it temporarily, but I didn’t get to finish the new kitchen for two years, as I was busy with other things. I created a temporary kitchen that was rustic and more my style. It gave me the feeling that I was camping, which I always like when I move into a new house.’ Underneath the modern cosmetic alterations, Michael was delighted to discover original windows, floors and doors. ‘I peeled back this layer of bad make-up and the house sprung back to life,’ he enthuses. ‘For the floor, I went for an extremely dark ebony finish as it disguised the nail heads where it had been sanded over the years.’  The house was initially such a riot of colour and pattern that Michael painted everything white introducing colour gradually, asking his friend the interior designer Windsor Smith (opens in new tab) to contribute ideas.  One of Windsor’s epic challenges was working out where to place each of Michael’s beloved pieces of furniture from his collection.  ‘I’m a compulsive buyer but I buy without considering where things might go. When I was developing the market place for 1stDibs (opens in new tab), I would meet dealers all over the world. 
If I saw something I really liked, I couldn’t help myself. I thought, if I’m asking them to be one of my customers, I should be one of their customers, too.’  Consequently, pieces of Michael’s haul are shifted and moved, some going into storage. ‘We move things around constantly because I get bored and like to switch things out,’ he explains.  For conjuring a festive mood, when surrounded by snow, the house is difficult to beat.  ‘It’s an amazing place to be for the holidays. We typically get snow in December and over half our Christmases have been white. We light many of the fires.’ 

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With the two retrievers basking in front of the roaring flames, a meal on the table and the house decked out in its finery, this sumptuous home summons the mood of Christmas in breathtaking splendour.  Words/Juliet Benning