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The Belgian Connection: TK Opens in Hudson

An ancient artifact, lit by an early 20th-century industrial lamp, rests on a rough-hewn antique table that’s pushed against a wall that appears to have clocked several hundred years of wear and tear and is all the more beautiful for it. Above the table hangs a large, contemporary, abstract painting.  Though four of these five items are old, the overall effect of the arrangement is spare and contemporary, in an unusually rich, detailed way. Or more precisely, it is “volledig,” a Flemish word that means full (vol) yet empty (ledig). 

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Thus is the wizardry of Axel Vervoordt, a Belgian antiques dealer and interior designer whose poetic, minimalist approach to living with antiques has become influential worldwide.  Vervoordt’s client list reads like an international who’s who; i.e., the Bills, Blass, famous for his taste, and Gates, famous for his wealth—two essentials for dealing with Vervoordt.  Which leaves the rest of us no choice but to copy his look as best we can.  Parisians, ill inclined to miss out on the dernier cri,  get their Vervoordt lite at Flamant, a chain of Belgian home design stores similar to Pottery Barn (only better).  There, though most of the items look vintage or antique, virtually everything is new. 

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Hudson, NY is another world capital of taste where the natives get restless if they sense that we are being deprived. Enter: TK Home & Garden.  Officially opened just last month, TK is the creation of Tessy Keller (left), whose initials give the store it’s name, and her husband of 22 years, Jay Neuschatz.  Though still not fully stocked, TK’s direction is clear: pointing straight toward Belgium. 

“When we first came to Hudson, we were looking for furniture, and everything we liked was thousands of dollars,” says Tessy, who for many years worked for Federated Department Stores in New York.  “We thought Hudson needed a sophisticated tabletop and home accessories store that was reasonably priced.”

“Flamant puts out a huge book,” says Jay, who continues to practice dentistry in Manhattan, “and it rang out to Tessy and me. That was our starting point, but we are not trying to copy Flamant. It was just an inspiration.”

True to the spirit of Vervoodt, TK has plenty of breathing room. “We didn’t want to pile furniture,” says Tessy.  “It’s important to us that people feel like they’ve walked into a home.”  The couple also follows the unusual practice of dealing in both old (or at least old-looking) furnishings and modern art (as does Vervoordt).  Contemporary paintings hang throughout the ground-floor store, and up the staircase there is a separate enterprise the couple call Gallery 441 that is exclusively for art.

Still to come for TK is their outdoor garden department, which, Tessy says, they have delayed stocking until spring.  Meanwhile, Hudson-based garden designer Philippe Soule‘s spare approach—pruned hydrangeas and clipped boxwood against a pale gravel ground—looks both promising and as if it just might have been influenced by another Belgian design titan, the landscape architect Jacques Wirtz. On the other hand, it could just be a coincidence.

TK Home and Garden
441 Gallery
441 Warren Street, Hudson

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 10/14/10 at 12:56 AM • Permalink