"Whether it's the garden, a home or the animals—I’ve always been protecting things,” says Thomas O’Brien. The interior and home furnishings designer has built an empire preserving the past and reimagining it for modern day. “It’s an appreciation for things that have lasted and trying to always find a way to bring them forward,” says husband and designer Dan Fink.
In 2000, O’Brien bought the Academy, a former boys school first built in 1833 in the central village area of Bellport. After meeting Fink at interiors industry event Design on a Dime in Manhattan, the pair married in 2015 under the copper beech tree on the property and were soon both deeply entrenched in O’Brien’s passion project of constructing a second home adjacent to the Academy. Built as a temple devoted to their love of historical architecture, decorative arts and classic design, the Library, completed in 2015, is the subject of O’Brien’s second book, Library House, due out this October. O’Brien has been busy with both a newly debuted dinnerware collection with Reed & Barton (sold through Bloomingdale’s) and additional furnishing collections with Century Furniture.
Last summer, the pair opened Copper Beech—an elevated mercantile housed in a rehabilitated, century-old grocery store just down the lane from their home. The space was originally constructed as a theater in the middle of Bellport’s central village and later served as the local grocery store for more than 80 years. “It went out of business about five years ago, and nobody knew what to do with this building,” says Fink. “Everyone in town loved this charming grocery store—it was such a quintessential part of the town—and was so sad that it closed. So we sat and watched—wondering what someone might do with the space—and when nothing happened, we decided to take it on as a sort of homage to homemaking.”
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