From the WSJ:
“In 1980, when Victoria MacKenzie-Childs and her husband Richard toured a dilapidated farm house in King Ferry, N.Y., wood planks covered the windows and spider webs crisscrossed the interior.
They might have given up on their dream of restoring the historic home. But when the couple’s young daughter Heather came face-to-face with one of the massive webs, she said something that altered Ms. MacKenzie-Childs’s perspective: “Look, mommy, lace!”
“From that moment on, that little statement changed the way I thought not only about the home, but my work and my everything,” she said.
Despite the fact that the home lacked just about every modern convenience, including a working furnace, the couple bought the home for roughly $20,000, according to public records.
Select | Sotheby’s International Realty The King Ferry, N.Y., home of Mr. and Ms. MacKenzie-Childs, the founders of the colorful home décor company, has been relisted for under $1 million.
It was in this late 18th-century farm house that the couple founded their namesake home-décor company, MacKenzie-Childs Ltd., which, like the home purchase, was inspired by their then-9-year-old daughter.
Ms. MacKenzie-Childs, 63, and Mr. MacKenzie-Childs, 59, had moved to the rural hamlet in Cayuga County, N.Y., from England after Mr. MacKenzie-Childs found a teaching job at nearby Wells College. Caught in the recessions of the early ’80s, the artist couple was making due, but when their daughter appealed to join the Royal Ballet School back in England, they faced a financial quandary.
“We were sculptors, not potters,” Ms. Mackenzie-Childs said, referring to the perceived divide between fine art and crafts. That gulf was more pronounced at the time, she said, and making such a transition would surely get noticed by their peers, but they weren’t going to let pride get in their way. By the mid-1980s, their company’s whimsical tableware and home-décor collection—household items the couple built from necessity—was growing in popularity.
“As the house progressed, the business progressed,” Mr. MacKenzie-Childs said. A pastel-colored checkered hood for the kitchen stove became a popular design motif. Fish-shaped dinner plates, a quirky gift to his wife when Mr. MacKenzie-Childs could only cook up a chicken dinner, became hot sellers. Foot-shaped stools, cast from the feet of their ballerina daughter, helped kick off a home-furnishings collection.
After purchasing additional acreage in the 1990s, the property now encompasses roughly 43 acres, which includes the main house, a carriage house the couple built in the early ’90s and smaller outbuildings, like the chicken coop that their daughter used as a playhouse. All told, the couple put in roughly $1.6 million into the renovations, said listing agent Michael DeRosa.
The couple is no longer associated with MacKenzie-Childs Ltd. They listed their home for sale in 2011 for $1.1 million and it was relisted in July for $975,000 with Michael DeRosa and Mike Franklin of Select Sotheby’s International Realty. Furnishings aren’t included, but are negotiable in a separate contract.”
Mike Franklin Select Sotheby’s International Realty
270 Broadway, Suite 103
Phone: +1 315.685.8100Phone: +1 518.580.8500