House Design

Design house: Founder of 1st Dibs Michael Bruno opens his historic New York home to H&G – take the tour

Explore this Tuxedo Park home, filled to the brim with chic antiques and impeccable style

1st Dibs House
(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

In the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains lies the home of the entrepreneur and founder of 1stDibs, Michael Bruno. 

Only a half-hour drive from the edge of New York City, the road to it winds around a frozen lake with the snow-covered pine trees reminiscent of an Alpine landscape.  

‘I typically like to move every eight years so that I can redecorate and I’ve looked around but I can’t find another house that makes me as happy as this one does,’ says Michael.

It's an extraordinary home, packed, as you would expect with curious and beautiful artefacts. Take the tour – and when you're done, don't miss more of the world's best homes on our dedicated page. 

House Bruno foyer

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

Michael’s original motive in finding a new home was to move closer to his office in the city. ‘I lived 40 blocks away and it could take forever to get there,’ he says. 

Tipped off about the historic houses in Tuxedo Park, Michael viewed five in one day, returning to buy one a week later. 

House Bruno sitting room

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

‘Tuxedo has so many beautiful old homes it’s almost like living in a historic house museum park,’ he says, laughing. 

He now shares the house with Alexander, his partner of 20 years, and two handsome retrievers, Boris and Natasha. 

House Bruno gallery

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

Built by the notable American architect John Russell Pope, the red-brick mansion is credited as one of his first domestic works.

‘It’s like owning a great piece of history and architecture at the same time,’ says Michael. ‘The house has a very modern floor plan for one built in 1901. There’s a lot of circulation and connecting doors as well as doors to the outside.’ 

House Bruno hall

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

Much of the house’s appeal was that it retained its original state with only the kitchen and two bathrooms altered. 

Famous for his aesthetic sensibility, Michael determined that the kitchen had to be gutted immediately. 

‘I couldn’t even live with it temporarily, but I didn’t get to finish the new kitchen for two years, as I was busy with other things. I created a temporary kitchen that was rustic and more my style. It gave me the feeling that I was camping, which I always like when I move into a new house.’

House Bruno kitchen

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

Underneath the modern cosmetic alterations, Michael was delighted to discover original windows, floors and doors.

‘I peeled back this layer of bad make-up and the house sprung back to life,’ he enthuses. ‘For the floor, I went for an extremely dark ebony finish as it disguised the nail heads where it had been sanded over the years.’ 

House Bruno dining

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

The house was initially such a riot of colour and pattern that Michael painted everything white introducing colour gradually, asking his friend the interior designer Windsor Smith to contribute ideas. 

House Bruno kitchen

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

One of Windsor’s epic challenges was working out where to place each of Michael’s beloved pieces of furniture from his collection. 

‘I’m a compulsive buyer but I buy without considering where things might go. When I was developing the market place for 1stDibs, I would meet dealers all over the world. 
If I saw something I really liked, I couldn’t help myself. I thought, if I’m asking them to be one of my customers, I should be one of their customers, too.’ 

House Bruno kitchen

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

Consequently, pieces of Michael’s haul are shifted and moved, some going into storage. ‘We move things around constantly because I get bored and like to switch things out,’ he explains. 

House Bruno master bath

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

For conjuring a festive mood, when surrounded by snow, the house is difficult to beat. 

‘It’s an amazing place to be for the holidays. We typically get snow in December and over half our Christmases have been white. We light many of the fires.’ 

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House Bruno bedroom

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/Otto)

With the two retrievers basking in front of the roaring flames, a meal on the table and the house decked out in its finery, this sumptuous home summons the mood of Christmas in breathtaking splendour. 

Words/Juliet Benning  

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.