Creative Director Yolanda Edwards and Photographer and Men’s Style Editor Matt Hranek do more than just spend their weekdays together in Condé Nast Traveler ’s New York City office. Along with their daughter, Clara, and their adorable dogs, Charlie and Prune, this real-life modern family escapes their Brooklyn brownstone and heads to their contemporary upstate home every chance they get. Yolanda and Matt both thrive in New York City, but weekends in the country are where they celebrate their time together as a family.
On the cusp of the holiday season, Yolanda and Matt packed up their board games, culinary essentials and a few timeless pieces from the Tommy Hilfiger 2016 Holiday Collection, and pointed their car upstate for the weekend. It’s a ritual that’s a means to a glorious end.
Upstate is where the family goes, not only to escape, but also where they revel in their best entertaining and even brainstorm some of their most brilliant ideas. Condé Nast Traveler had a chance to tag along with the couple and talk about their two very different lives between New York City and New York’s Sullivan County—and how they manage to travel to and fro with stylish, effortless ease.
Describe your typical day in New York City.
Matt: City mornings are always a rush. Dogs need to be walked. We get ready for work. Clara gets dressed for school. We have this ritual of walking to the subway together and I think that’s really important. It’s a nice routine.
Yolanda: I would say it all pretty much starts with me springing out of bed at 6 A.M., trying to squeeze as much into the day as possible, like all New Yorkers. This is why I think we relish our breaks in the country. It’s where we can totally decompress.
Describe your typical day in New York City.
Matt: We’re about two hours from New York City, in the hamlet of Mileses. I’m from Binghamton, which is about an hour and a half from this house. That’s part of the reason why we ended up in Mileses. Yolanda and I were looking for a place that was still wild and I felt a real connection here to where I grew up.
Yolanda: What I love about this area is that there’s lots of rambling dirt roads, wildflowers, some abandoned old farmhouses, and everything is a little unpolished and raw. You can be completely natural.
Matt: This house and the property is a real escape for us. Once you’re here, there’s no excuse to go anywhere else. It’s where we come up with our best ideas. It’s where we cook our best meals. It’s where we fell the most in love.
Describe the trip—and transition—from your life in Brooklyn to Mileses.
Matt: Here’s the classic Friday afternoon journey. We load up the car. Dogs. Bags. We negotiate some exit out of Brooklyn. We get to the Lincoln Tunnel and instantly we become more relaxed. It becomes one gorgeous farmer’s market to the best little mom-and-pop wine shop, and then the road goes from asphalt to dirt. And you just take a big sigh.
How do you pass the time Upstate?
Yolanda: In the fall, we’ll go apple picking. We have a couple of trees we pick from down the road, and then we cook with the apples. I would say fall is when we cook the most. All day sometimes. There’s not a lot to do besides go hiking, drink tea and cook.
Matt: I also think the house entertains really nicely.
Yolanda: Yes! We’ll invite friends up from the city. And then, it’s like three days of hanging out. Morning, noon and night.
Matt: A Mileses party typically starts with a cocktail and meal that really embody the season. In fall, maybe it’s manhattans and a dish that’s been braised. Then, after dinner comes the board games. Because we don’t have the distractions of the digital world up here, it allows us to tap into things that most people have forgotten about: conversation, comfortable silences. And dancing.
Yolanda: We like to have a dance party.
Matt: Some mayhem happens after a few manhattans.
What were you thinking stylistically when you built your upstate home?
Yolanda: It was super important to us to have a common room. I didn’t want there to be any separation from where we cooked, ate, and hung out. When we come up here, we’re hanging out with friends. And we also wanted windows that made the outside feel like it was part of our inside.
Matt: For me, this house was sort of my architectural opus. I’m a huge modernist fan. I loved the idea of an austere exterior and a very warm interior.
What about personal styles? Do you change up your wardrobe between the city and the country?
Matt: My city life is shaped in a kind of high-end, preppy, Neapolitan style. But in Mileses, I get more into my rugged, outdoorsy side. I dress more practical, but it’s still well crafted and luxurious. Boots. Down coats. Heavy sweaters.
Yolanda: And because we’re more rugged by day, we like to get dressed up at night. Almost black-tie sometimes. It’s sort of like you’ve been in your country clothes all day and it’s nice to prepare an elegant meal and shed the rugged layers.
How do you balance your two very different lives? Does one naturally end up being incorporated into the other?
Yolanda: Here in Mileses, I’ll take long walks in the fall, cut some foliage, put it in a basket, and bring it back to the city with me. Maybe even into the office. If that basket can last me to the next Friday, when I’ll go to the country again, it’s sort of like my little touchstone.
Matt: My city and country experiences are more cut and dry. I have a very urban life and a very country-mouse existence. In Mileses, my wardrobe, who I hang out with, how I eat—it’s very, very different than my city life. And I like it that way. Maybe there are some crossovers. Maybe the wine choices stay the same. But in the country, the food is more complex and more wild. The same goes for my friends. And parties.
Video direction, sound and production by Bows & Arrows for Condé Nast Traveler; photos by Kenny Wu for Condé Nast Traveler