FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. - In movies, it’s referred to as “architecture porn.” Equally sexy yet more fleeting are the flawless kitchens, beautifully lit living rooms, perfectly appointed bedrooms and achingly verdant yards that tantalize readers and viewers in glossy catalogues, magazines and television commercials.
And it’s someone’s job to find them.
Location scout Andrea Raisfeld is likely well acquainted with most of the fabulous homes and apartments available for hire in New York City, Fairfield and Westchester Counties because she’s one of the people who procures them for producers and directors.
Raisfeld is a former contributing editor for Martha Stewart magazine whose professional photographer husband, William Abranowicz, shoots interiors for House and Garden, Elle Décor and House Beautiful. These factors have contributed to what she calls her “well trained eye” for what works in photo shoots of any kind.
She literally walked into her line of work. Having moved to Bedford 16 years ago – when her youngest child was eight weeks old – she went for a walk down a local road and was enthralled by the stately homes lining it. “When I came back I said to my husband, ‘I bet there are so many great locations here. I should be a location scout.’”
The following day she had business cards printed up and was ready for her first close up.
In choosing locations, Raisfeld responds to “a combination of décor and architecture.” But the most important aspect of a compelling location is “a sense of light and space.”
Additionally, “Great bones can sometimes overrule weak furnishings,” says Raisfeld, “And great interior style can often help you overlook a bland shell.”
But there are always challenges: “Too old a house, and the rooms are often small with low ceilings; too new a house, and it lacks the patina that most editors or producers are looking for... If they want brand spanking new with no sign of human habitation, they might as well create a set in studio.”
She adds that she looks for a refined “generic style” in terms of finding an “every-home,” which she says can serve as a quiet and “aspirational” background. Too much detail -- wallpaper, draperies, patterned carpets or crisscrossed wood beams -- can draw too much attention and become distractions, says Raisfeld.
While she has represented the houses of interior designers with great success, Raisfeld says it is rare for her to be excited by a house that’s been decorated by a professional. Those homes “are missing ingredient of personal style.”
Professionally, Raisfeld has developed a rhythm that hums compatibly with her lifestyle. The flexibility inherent in her career allows her to spend mornings working in her pajamas at her computer. “I’ll cook dinner in the morning so I can work more leisurely in the late afternoon, or I can pick the perfect hour of the day to go for a run, volunteer for school events, or go to Costco.”
Married for 23 years, Raisfeld and her husband have three children, 20, “almost 18” and 15. They also have three dogs, two cats and some chickens – and are poised to welcome some bees (ones that produce honey) into the fold as well.
Her own dwelling boasts a recent paint overhaul and “shiny white floors to let the sunshine in.” She also says she’s “big on refinishing with spray paint, and using throws to cover up sad sofas.” And with many artist friends, Raisfeld and her husband have amassed an impressive collection of art, painting and photographs, many of which were obtained through “trades and charity auctions.”
It’s difficult to imagine her home as anything less than ordinary. That wouldn’t fit with Andrea Raisfeld’s aesthetic, which decidedly less fleeting than the images in glossy magazines.