Horn was born in Taiwan and grew up in a Japanese-style house there, sleeping on futons and bathing in a traditional wooden soaking tub. Later, she studied marketing in New York, worked as an art director for Estée Lauder and Avon, and started her own consultancy with such clients as Clarins, Revlon, Aramis, and Prescriptives.
Her country home, which she affectionately calls Hunter House, is a product of both her own artistic, cross-cultural background and Steven’s deep passion for Japanese culture. A Japanese-style staircase in solid mahogany, framed by Douglas fir beams, leads to the mezzanine; the antique Chinese ceramic container at the foot of the stairs was originally used for preserving eggs. An early client of Steven’s was a certain Mr. Kobayashi, a Japanese artisan whose full name they no longer recall (“We think he retired and moved back to Japan,” Vivia says). After the demolition that created a huge, open living-and-dining area with a mezzanine, Kobayashi and his team began the meticulous work of customizing the space, armed with reference books lent to them by the Horns on Japanese architecture and interior design.
In the living room of Vivia Horn’s Japanese-style retreat in Hunter, New York, the leather-and-plastic Italian sofas, cocktail table, and wool shag rug were purchased in the 1980s at Bloomingdale’s. The Japanese-style fire pit and tin range hood are custom, the floor lamp is from the ’70s, the sisal carpet is by Stark, the ceiling beams are Douglas fir, and a series of color lithographs from Japan are displayed along the pine wainscoting.
In the living room, they installed a dramatic black ventilation hood above a custom maple-and–Douglas fir fire pit, which was modeled after a traditional irori, or sunken hearth; a 100-year-old example is displayed as decoration in the mezzanine tea area.
The couple noticed an ad for a cache of Brazilian hardwood in the New York Times and ordered it; the Japanese craftsmen painstakingly cut the wood for the kitchen counter and floor.
“Something I’ve truly admired my whole life is great collaboration,” says Vivia, happily recalling how she and Steven swapped ideas for the design of the space with their team of artisans. In the kitchen, the table was a gift from Rocky Aoki, the late owner of the Benihana restaurant empire; the Harry Bertoia chairs from Knoll are topped with Japanese cushions, the range is vintage, and the custom hood is made of tin framed with Brazilian hardwood.
A beautiful set of sliding screen doors, known as fusuma, had been rescued from the interior of the now-defunct New York restaurant Nihonbashi; carefully stored in the garage since the ’80s, they now grace the master bedroom. In the master bedroom, the bed is dressed with a coverlet by Jackson Hole Home and a pillow from Pottery Barn, and the antique Japanese screen is from Takashimaya in Japan. Indeed, though Vivia frequently entertains friends at Hunter House, the retreat mainly serves as her year-round respite from New York’s high-octane pace.