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Stone’s Throw

Water and weather color this jewelry artist’s designs and home



Photographs by John Gruen

Water is an important element in jewelry designer Margo Morrison’s life. In New York City, her apartment is a block away from the Hudson River, and she can view the water from her 17th-floor showroom in Midtown. In Sandisfield, her weekend home sits on what once was farmland and overlooks Ida’s Pond. She even has a working dam. “The water allows my imagination to run wild,” she says. “When I look at the water, I can breathe. I can move. I can think and I can dream.”

The original landowners, the Annecharico family, well known in Sandisfield, created the pond and the dam, and Morrison shares the beauty of the waterfront with a handful of other homes.

It all started seven years ago, when she started looking in the Berkshires for a place. She had already bought land in nearby Austerlitz, New York, and her plan had been to design a prefab house. Then the market crashed, and that allowed her to afford a home that was already complete.

Leslie Kamanoff, a bodywork specialist whose practice is in New York City and who had a home in Great Barrington, had told her about this area. He would come to the Berkshires on the weekends and rave about it. Then another friend, actress/director Karen Allen, who lives in neighboring Monterey, showed her the house in Sandisfield. 

“I sort of pretended to look at other houses, but I fell in love with this house,” Morrison (pictured left) says. “I wanted the house before I walked in. I saw the vision of what it could be.” 

What appealed to her was the location and the home’s layout, although the house itself needed a major overhaul. It was a cabin, with knotty pine, and inside it smelled of chlorine from a massive hot tub. One bathroom had an avocado-green tub and lime-green toilet, fiberglass shower, linoleum flooring. It was dark, carpeted, with peeling wallpaper, and just about everything needed to be stripped. 

Morrison was up for the challenge. Her vision called for a minimalist’s perspective and a palette of neutrals, blues, and greens. She bleached the original wood floors a milky white and has placed on them beautifully patterned rugs from ABC Carpet. She didn’t have a plan—putting together the home was an organic process. She shopped in Hudson and Brimfield, Great Barrington, and New York City. The artwork in her home was found locally and beyond, and furniture as well as fixtures were from places like Restoration Hardware and online catalogs.

“I don’t want it to be too serious here,” she says. “I want people to come to my home and not feel overpowered.” She spent $250,000 to complete the home and can now say that she is done as of this spring, when she doubled the size of the terrace, replacing wood slats with pavers. 

Surprisingly, only a year ago, she wanted to sell the house and move to the Hamptons. Within two weeks of putting her home on the market, she received a full-price offer. Then she thought more about it. The equivalent of what she had in Sandisfield would cost $4 million in the Hamptons, she says, to say nothing of the accompanying noise and traffic—not a place to relax. “I said, what the hell am I doing? I think I’m making a huge mistake,” she recalls.

That being said, the Berkshires is not the Hamptons. Morrison has to make her own fun and be proactive about a social life. But she has also taken stock of the fact that where she lives is a culturally rich area and has begun appreciating what is going on here.

Most importantly, every Thursday afternoon, when she makes the 2.5-hour drive from Manhattan to Sandisfield, she feels the tension start to drain. By the time she reaches Route 8, her breathing deepens, colors become more vivid, and the reality of a relaxing weekend sinks in. She starts thinking about what she will do—like grocery shop at Guidos—and her biggest concerns become getting fresh flowers and what steaks to grill.

A classical pianist—she has an 88-key electric piano upstairs in her home—Morrison takes pleasure in the various venues that showcase that style of music, such as the new Saint James Place in Great Barrington, the Mahaiwe, and the Norfolk Music Festival, which is the summer home of the Yale School of Music (and only 35 minutes from Sandisfield). Then there’s Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Tanglewood in Stockbridge, and the various art openings throughout the region.

What made her house even more special, though, was her beloved dog, Ella, an Italian greyhound. People recognized Ella before they did Morrison, and her companion went with her everywhere. She also consumed a large part of Morrison’s time. Ella was blind for the last four years of her life. Even so, she knew her way around her Sandisfield home.

“She loved eating dried, dead crickets in the backyard. She loved walks. She loved classical music. She loved the air here, the Norman Rockwell Museum grounds. I lived for that dog,” says Morrison. 

Ella died last year, on December 29, from kidney failure. Photos, drawings, and statues in the home are reminders of Ella, and Morrison still becomes teary when she thinks of her. There’s a different energy in the house now, which Morrison is still getting used to. Yet there is almost a sense of freedom when she can sit for long stretches of time, daydreaming and reaching into herself.

Her home faces west, and the sunsets are spectacular. She finds herself rediscovering nature, with the littlest things becoming the most profound. She does Tai Chi at home, and Vinyasa yoga at Lifeworks in Great Barrington. She likes simply driving around and exploring local towns, sometimes venturing a bit farther to Hudson and Chatham, discovering stores that have just opened. 

And it’s through these explorations and reawakenings, both in her home and in the area, that she finds inspiration for her jewelry designs, a profession she fell into in 2001 when she saw a knotted necklace, with stones spaced just so. She connected it with visual music. “It was like notes on a staff,” she says. “I had this epiphany. I went home and started making jewelry.”

At the time, Morrison had a variety of interests decorating her past. She studied classical piano from the age of seven, attending the Cleveland Institute and studied one summer at the Aspen Music Festival. She finished her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida and majored in journalism, with minors in music and speech pathology.

She started Miami’s Guide to the Arts, which she later sold, and covered the art world there. Then she moved to New York City, acted in TV commercials, temped at a music label, and became a professional organizer. On a visit to see her mother in Miami, she saw the necklace that would be the catalyst for the next phase of her life. “It was as if it spoke to me,” she says.

She went back to New York and bought a bunch of stones and silk cord. Then she sat on the couch and started arranging.  “It started to sing—the shapes, the sizes, the scale just makes sense to me,” she says.

She tested the pieces at a high-end salon in NYC, personally selling it to women with foil in their hair. Morrison was then accepted to a juried trade show, where she listened, learned, and watched. She worked out of her New York City apartment for five years, using her credit cards to grow the business.

And she enjoys working with natural gemstones and pearls. It’s affordable and appealing to women who usually buy fine and fancy jewels. Sixteen years on, she now has several employees, a Midtown Manhattan showroom, and her pieces sell for $400 apiece on average. (You can find them in the Berkshires at the Clark, Canyon Ranch, and Local.)

For her jewelry, like her home, it’s all about design, about organic shapes, about movement. Her customers include Blake Lively, Debra Messing, Julia Roberts, Judy Collins, and Ina Garten. 

And it all comes back to the water. “Jewelry is like movement. It should speak to you,” Morrison says. “I find inspiration here. The colors. I look at color. I’m completely seduced by color. I love driving up during different times of year to see different shades of green, different shades of brown.” Then she pauses, and listens.

“Do you hear the wind? I cannot get tired of this house.” 

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Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
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Members and guests are invited to join us for the Election of Trustees, followed by an artist talk by eight photographers with work in the current exhibit. Visit our website at...

Cost: 0

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Ave.
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
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Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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We invite families to drop-in and enjoy interactive pop-up activity stations, gallery games, and art projects around the KMA.  Get inspired by Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Calling all fans of Scottish food and Diana Galbaldon’s Outlander series. Don your tartan, make like Jamie’s clan motto and be ready! You’re invited to an amazing Outlander...

Cost: 100.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Friday, Jan. 25 Wilton Library Mini Golf Tourney for Adults, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. The kids had so much fun at last year’s Mini Golf fundraiser, that Wilton Library is holding one for adults only...

Cost: $50 and up

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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Original members of the Billy Joel Band featuring Liberty DeVitto on drums, Richie Cannata on saxophone and Russell Javors on rhythm guitar. The band recorded and toured extensively with Billy Joel...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: (203) 438-5795
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Born from humble beginnings in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT The Alpaca Gnomes cut their teeth in the neighborhood bar scene by playing marathon shows filled with originals and a wide...

Cost: $15.00 - $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Jeanne Moore
Telephone: (203) 831-5004
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
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Are you a lifelong with a passion for sharing history? Find out about becoming a Museum Docent! Docents are trained volunteer educators who present guided tours and other education programs to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Bring the baby and enjoy a lively conversation inspired by the art on view. Enjoy light snacks while socializing with newly-made friends. Crying babies welcome and activities provided for older...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price with Museum admission: Free

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

Winter Guided Hike @ Woodcock Nature Center Saturday January 26th, 10-11:30am, FREE ​ Join Mr. Sam for a hike where we'll investigate whats going on in nature in the winter season and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Woodcock Nature Center
Telephone: (203) 762-7280
Contact Name: Sam Nunes
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Saturday, Jan. 26 Mini Golf Family Day in the Stacks at Wilton Library, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wilton Library will hold its 2nd mini golf fundraising event. There will be food (each paid admission will...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Saturday, January 26th from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Ages 4+ Attend for groovy crafts, snacks, games, and more in celebration of the Pete the Cat book series. This event is free and no registration is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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Hudson Chorale, the area’s largest mixed voice chorus, is poised to please.  The group will begin its 2019 season with two matinee concerts on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm and Sunday,...

Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
Ossining, NY  10562
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
Contact Name: Anne Norum
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Join us for a very special evening of music from these four accomplished singer songwriters: David Ray, Mike Latini, Dave Goldenberg, George Mallas.  

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Join us for another incredible evening of music featuring four local singer songwriters performing original music! Doors open at 7pm in New Morning’s handicapped accessible Community Room on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

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