Last summer, Dorinda Medley revealed she was making some changes to her beloved Berkshires, Massachusetts estate, Blue Stone Manor. Sadly, the renovations were due to damage sustained after the home suffered a severe flood. As viewers saw on the April 9 episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, the extensive repairs have taken a toll on Dorinda, both financially and emotionally.
"I'm so overwhelmed because I have to deal with so many moving parts all day every day," she revealed in the episode after her contractor called her to tell her the budget went over by another $15,000. "I'm trying to get everything done and I'm stressed out all the time."
Now, Dorinda is opening up to BravoTV.com about exactly what happened during the disaster. "In January of last year, I was actually at Andy Cohen’s baby shower. I left the baby shower and when I landed in L.A. ... I got a call from my mother crying and saying, 'You’re never going to believe it. There’s water everywhere in your house,'" she recalled exclusively to BravoTV.com.
The damage was devastating. "I had seven feet of water," Dorinda shared, explaining that a "tremendous cold spell" broke the pipes above her heating system. "It was like, oh my god. The house literally was crystallized because all the water had gone through the walls and stuff. The heat went off and there was no light, no electricity."
Understandably, the whole disaster was incredibly tough on Dorinda. "I’m going to be honest with you," she shared, "I had a moment. [My daughter] Hannah was talking to me about it the other day. I just cried... Blue Stone Manor — even though it’s a big house — it’s a working house. We use every room, the lights are on, the fireplaces are on, we’re always cooking, someone is in the living room, someone is sitting in the billiard room. It was just dead. And I really was like, 'I can’t do this. I don’t even know how to do this. I don’t know where to start.'
"The house was closed for eight months! I had close to $1 million worth of damage. There was a point there where I said to my mother, 'I don’t want it. I’m one person.' It’s almost like a deserving thing. I had kept the show on the road for so long because of [my late husband] Richard. Richard gave [the house] to me before we got married. This is where I grew up and everybody identified me with Blue Stone Manor."
Still, Dorinda — who was temporarily displaced to the local Holiday Inn — collected herself and got to work. "I would work all day in the house in a snowsuit. I had to literally — in my basement and in the other rooms — take out every piece of clothing, take out every curtain because they were worried about mold. I had to go through each thing. And I had never really properly cleaned out Richard’s stuff... I never really worked through that process I think. So, it was a real cleanse, not only physically, but emotionally."
It was Dorinda's daughter who helped put things in perspective: "Hannah said, 'You know what I think, Mom? I think you’ve run this house for eight years as your and Richard’s house. I think now you need to make your mark on it and make it your house. And Richard would be happy with that.... When you reopen it, call it your house.'"
Now, Dorinda can see the light at the end of the tunnel. "I just started thinking about things differently. It really empowered me. What started out as a tremendous negative ended up being an incredible positive... Other people, they look at me as someone so strong and so able, but I’m actually very vulnerable. I actually get very scared sometimes. I think this process gave me a lot of empowerment, like, you are on your own, but you’re strong! You’re able to do it. I don’t have to live in the shadow of my dead husband anymore."
Want more The Real Housewives of New York City? New episodes air every Thursday at 9/8c or catch up on this season through the Bravo app.
Bravo’s Style & Living is your window to the fabulous lifestyles of Bravolebrities. Be the first to know about all the best fashion and beauty looks, the breathtaking homes Bravo stars live in, everything they’re eating and drinking, and so much more. Sign up to become a Bravo Insider and get exclusive extras.