Foxfire Mountain House: On Style, Hosting and Friendship

Over the past two years I've had the privilege of getting to know Eliza Clark and Tim Trojian, co-owners of Foxfire Mountain House in Mt. Tremper, New York. Our friendship started as many of mine do these days. I discovered Foxfire on Instagram and after a few weeks I worked up the courage to reach out to Eliza, confess my admiration of Foxfire and ask if she might be interested in working together. Eliza responded just a few minutes later with an enthusiastic "Yes!" and the rest is history as they say! 

Eliza and Tim discovered the Foxfire property, complete with the original 11-room Inn, in 2013. The renovations were extensive but Tim and Eliza dug right in, learning as they went - laying hundreds of tiles themselves, pouring the concrete bar and more - all to achieve their dream of working together on something that they truly loved. 

As we put the final touches on our 2nd annual creative retreat, "The Art of Living Well", I asked Eliza (who is also an accomplished author, television producer and interior designer) to share a bit on what exactly helps to make Foxfire Mountain House so very special.

The style at Foxfire is both perfectly on trend and yet perfectly timeless. That's certainly not an easy thing to achieve! How do you do it?

That's a nice way to put it, thank you! Decorating is a true passion and so the design at Foxfire evolves with the times as I do, incorporating new things I love and changing things around as often as I feel the urge. I'll love a pillow one day and then suddenly I won't. You know? Worse than that even. Suddenly it just has to be gone! I'm not sure why but it's fun and a little challenging sometimes too. There are certain things that feel like Foxfire's style that never really change: the use of natural materials, vintage furniture and lighting, great lamps...

For those of us who know you and your husband, Tim, Foxfire really is a perfect reflection of you. How do you translate your personal aesthetic into design?

The main thing is that I love antiques and vintage. When I worked as a television producer, I worked on American Pickers and the Canadian version, not surprisingly called, Canadian Pickers. My favorite past time is scouring antique stores and consignment shops. It's a big part of my life and it's given Foxfire, and our new property La Colina, their look. It just wouldn't be my thing to have an all new room. A mix of old and new can work really well, though - old dressers, for example, are a challenge because the drawers often don't close properly and they can smell musty and transfer that to your clothes. So I like new dressers or I get very particular with any old ones I buy. And I love beeswax candles. When night falls, I like a glass of wine and candlelight. I transfer that to Foxfire for sure.

Photo: Cottage Farm

Photo: Cottage Farm

So many of the things at Foxfire are either handcrafted, vintage or thrifted. Why is this important to you and how does it help develop the overall feel of Foxfire?

For sure. I like an item to have weight and patina and a sense of history to it. I like unique (though not "whimsical", lol). I don't want anything of mine to look like everybody else's and I'm often customizing pieces of furniture in some way. Making an old lamp base into a hanging light or painting a chair a different color. That kind of thing. I really love beautiful handmade pieces for the same reason. They are authentic and have a soul. Energy went into making them and that energy continues to have a beautiful vibration coming out of them. (Can you tell we live close to Woodstock??) But it's true. In the end, I guess that's what personal style is. You make design choices based on some instinct or deep memory of something you feel is just "right."

Foxfire is so much more than just an inn - from the bar room to the glass house, it's all a bit of an experience. What elements tie it all together so cohesively? 

That's the best. It should be a sensual experience to be fully encompassing and memorable. It should look, smell, sound and feel good. What's the fifth sense? Taste. I've never licked the coffee table, hehe, but the restaurant food is good, I can vouch for that.

Photo: Juliana Bird Photography

Photo: Juliana Bird Photography

When you're visiting Foxfire there is such a great feeling of being at home here. Why do you feel that it's so important to make your guests feel so perfectly at ease in the space that you have created?

Nobody wants the old standard hotel room vibe anymore that's bland and neutral, and usually uncomfortable with furniture that was meant to last forever but was never once comfortable. Airbnb and other home rental sites really changed the way people want to travel and influenced the new boutique hotel movement. While a homey feel is the perfect setting, a lot of guests don't actually want to be in someone else's home with strange clothes in the closet and stuff stored under the bed, used food and condiments in the fridge. They still want to be taken care of and have the true getaway feeling of being pampered, where everything is fresh just for them. At Foxfire, you can make a fire and play records and generally make yourself at home, but you'll be served a yummy breakfast in the morning and you don't have to clean up after yourselves before you leave. You can fully relax and that's important to us since it's what hospitality is all about.

Photo: Erin Egleston

Photo: Erin Egleston

What's the best thing that you've learned from your years of hosting about helping strangers connect in a real way to this place? 

We've really enjoyed the "salon" experience that our guests get during their stay. We're constantly seeing people connecting at the bar or in the lounge, sharing stories and then exchanging contact info. Lasting friendships are made. I think it starts simply because each guest has specifically chosen to come to Foxfire and so they already have that in common. They're already united in looking for something similar to enjoy in those very precious periods of downtime they have. It's a meeting ground. There are a lot of like-minded creatives and adventurers who find their way here.

You and Tim have become seasoned hosts. What's your favorite part about welcoming guests to Foxfire?

First impressions are really important and so I like to see our guests come into the inn and look around, taking it all in: the glowing candles, fire burning in the hearth, fresh flowers in every room, and a bartender behind the bar ready to make their drink of choice. It's a perceptible shift to relaxation you can see in their expressions and that's my favorite part.

Photo: Juliana Bird Photography

Photo: Juliana Bird Photography

The word that I hear the most often with Foxfire is "magical". What is it about this place that you think makes everyone feel this way?

It's true. We hear that word ALL that time and we love it. I'm not completely sure what it is that makes people feel that way. Perhaps a combo of everything. People also talk about the vibe and the good energy in the place - I think all three terms are kind of the same thing they're describing. I'm not sure where it comes from but I'm happy for it!

What's next for Foxfire? And tell me a little bit about the new property, La Colina.

We're excited to be publishing a book of design tips and recipes coming out in Fall 2019. La Colina, Foxfire's new sister property, is a dream. A gorgeous 1930's Spanish-style estate set at the top of a hill with mountain vistas. We're renovating four cabana rooms that have lovely old plaster walls and fireplaces, and making over the kitchen in the main house. We're opening in June so we're kind of obsessed with it at the moment. Can't wait for everyone to see it!

Photo: Sweet Root Village

Photo: Sweet Root Village

I hope that you will consider joining us at Foxfire Mountain House along with my friend Nicole Cole of Vestige Home for what will surely be four incredible days of creativity, relaxation and discovery for "The Art of Living Well." There are only three days left to register so don't miss out! All of the details can be found here along with a bit more about Foxfire, The Forest Fern and Vestige Home. 

Until next time friends.

I would like to offer a huge thank you to Eliza Clark and Tim Trojian for all of your support, encouragement and friendship over the past two years.