The best Tiffany and Co. Easter aerial in the aperture is one sly adumbration of what lies in abundance aback you access what Carol Saint Hilaire and Jon Hood alarm their Bunny Mansion.
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Cycling through assorted pet configurations, the affiliated brace currently cares for two rabbits, nine bodies and a Chihuahua.
Their home bare to fit the breed and be attractive, too.
On a block of multi- and single-family homes in Jersey City’s bound developing West Side neighborhood, Hood, a 34-year-old attorney, and Saint Hilaire, a 32-year-old nonprofit consultant, were fatigued to the ample account windows of a two-story, 2,000-square-foot Colonial abode. Accession lure: the mid-$300,000s amount tag, which accustomed them to accomplish their ambition of homeownership in 2015.
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Saint Hilaire acquainted at home appropriate away. A built-in of the area, her aunt lives about the corner. Admitting Hood is from the suburbs of DC, he had lived in Jersey City during his twenties. Three years ago, the brace confused into the then-two-family spread, renting out the admiral and active downstairs. Again the tenants confused out.
While they spearheaded a few baby projects abandoned — the arid tan walls of the active allowance were corrective a abysmal aristocratic blue, alone ceilings in the dining allowance were aerial — they knew that a aloft check would crave alfresco expertise.
The brace angry to Sweeten, a chargeless account that matches homeowners with contractors, to advice them apprehend their vision. “We capital the amplitude to feel added accessible and beneath boxy, to booty advantage of the abundant accustomed light,” Saint Hilaire says. “And aback we both assignment from home, we capital to accept abundant amplitude to entertain, assignment and accumulate our pets.”
As they began discussing account with bounded artisan Matthew Schappert, they accomplished that the 1926 home presented logistical challenges. “We were so afraid about the electricals, aback it’s an old house,” confesses Saint Hilaire. In the end, the base didn’t ever complicate the redesign, but what became catchy was marrying their ideal bureaucracy with the home’s all-important radiators. With at atomic one per allowance still heating the house, it was boxy to assignment about them. “We had capital bifold doors in the entryway, but we anon accomplished that wouldn’t assignment because of a radiator,” explains Hood.
Once the aperture was complete, disturbing bottomward a bank amid the aristocratic dejected active allowance and the stairs to accord the aloft added aboveboard footage, the brace focused on aperture up the awkward alley arch against the kitchen. Out went two underutilized closets. Up went abysmal blooming rabbit-print wallpaper from Anthropologie.
Next up: the kitchen. “There was this animal 1970s affected copse paneling, and aback we had 20 bodies aggregate in the kitchen, it aloof became claustrophobic,” Hood recalls. A ample island, complete with a wine fridge underneath, has become the antecedent of the couple’s common parties. Vinyl attic tiles were pulled up, and white oak floors analogous the active room’s aboriginal boards were installed.
When the position of accession radiator scuttled the French doors the brace had absurd arch from the kitchen to the backyard, Saint Hilaire was accessible to accord in.
“At one point in the renovation, we were like, ‘Who needs a door? We can accomplish it work. Let’s aloof finish,’ ” she says. Luckily, she adds, Schappert talked them into abacus an abate aperture to the backyard. Today, it opens to a landscaped patio with a blaze pit, a dark egg armchair and a garden with oregano, basil and excellent that thrives in the warmer months address of Hood’s blooming thumb. And every blade helps, as the couple’s bristling attached tend to go through 10 pounds of hay a anniversary and 15 pounds of dry aliment a month.
“I was never accustomed to accept a pet, except for a parakeet, growing up, and I had a cat abhorrence aback I was a kid,” says Saint Hilaire. Aback Saint Hilaire and Hood met in 2010, they discussed adopting a dog, but accomplished their active schedules — Hood had aloof accomplished law academy and Saint Hilaire was about to alpha alum academy in burghal action — would accomplish parenting a beggared basset tough. “We went to the pet abundance and looked at the rabbits. I best one up and began abrading it all over me to see if I was allergic,” she adds. Hearing that rabbits do able-bodied in pairs, the brace adopted a black-and-white mother and babe they called Peanut Butter and Jelly. At one point, the brace had four rabbits, but are now aback bottomward to two as the others anesthetized away. (Bunnies alive an boilerplate of eight to 12 years, but some die of accustomed causes earlier.) The brace adopted Hoyt-Bergen in 2015, afterwards ambience Hoyt-Bergen and Jelly up on a dark date during which they played calm for an hour. “They’re a acceptable match,” says Saint Hilaire.
In accession to the rabbits, the brace currently has four bodies — Lexi, Bernie, Dahlia and Charlie — and a Chihuahua called Gidget. They’re additionally adopting two bodies and three kittens. Saint Hilaire, who volunteers for accomplishment alignment JerseyCats, has an admissible action aback it comes to animals in need. But the brace accumulate their house’s bench a mostly pet-less oasis.
“We didn’t appetite bodies to appear in and anon aroma a clutter box,” explains Saint Hilaire of their accommodation to accumulate the active allowance animal-free admitting the menagerie.
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Animal knickknacks, though, are accession story. “People would buy us one gift, again another, and little by little, there were bunnies everywhere,” action Hood. Now the brace aggregate rabbit-related tchotchkes, including a pewter aperture stopper, assorted ceramics bunnies of altered sizes, shapes and amount tags, and bunny ceramics that’s alone brought out for appropriate occasions (which, of course, accommodate Easter).
“We absolutely accept all-embracing taste,” says Hood. “We don’t like archetypal things.” Wood, assumption and adventurous colors are begin throughout the house. Appliance from West Elm and Crate & Barrel is alloyed with best finds, like a dining allowance cafe sourced from Flux Modern, a best appliance abundance in Asbury Park, NJ, that specializes in midcentury-modern pieces.
And while Hood and Saint Hilaire controlled the attending downstairs, admiral is the breadth of Jelly and Hoyt-Bergen. They alive in a cordoned-off breadth of what acclimated to be the active allowance of the admiral unit, area a teepee, a playpen and alike a creamy miniature bed accommodate an haven — and assure cyberbanking cords and affairs from any nibbles. And while bodies are accustomed predators, the brace says their felines and bunnies absolutely adore spending time together. (The no-cats-allowed chalkboard assurance aloft the bunnies’ covering is a active joke.)
Also admiral are Hood’s office, a amalgam applicant closet and appointment for Saint Hilaire, the couple’s bedchamber and an breezy ancestors allowance area they like to watch TV with the bodies coiled up about them.
In the adept bedroom, affected prints by artisan Tony Peralta, like one of Frida Kahlo in rollers, nod to Saint Hilaire’s Dominican heritage. Downstairs, an emerald blooming bedfellow allowance — commonly off-limits to bunnies — is ablaze and cozy, with a ample dreamcatcher on the wall. Hood and Saint Hilaire abrade the internet for one-of-a-kind pieces to add ability to the space. Some award-winning finds are on affectation in the leash aloft the active allowance couch, area an “E.T.” affiche hangs alongside a “Big Lebowski” admiration and accession Frida Kahlo rendition.
The brace is still absent up means to up the ante. A approaching activity is converting the barn into a gym. But no amount what, the home will consistently be a hares’ lair. “Now that we accept all the cats, accompany accept been allurement if we’re activity to rename it the Kitty Castle, and that’s not activity to happen,” says Saint Hilaire. “It’s the Bunny Mansion forever.”
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