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Home Hudson Valley SEPT. 12, 2013

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12, 2013 2 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley

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Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley

or may not improve the value of a home. We don’t care about resale. This is about us. We may be staying in our houses for awhile, and we’ve decided we want to love where we live. Time magazine called it “the post-recession renovation frenzy� and pointed to Houzz.com as its poster child. Houzz is a great resource for design ideas, as is Pinterest.com. You can also sit for hours in front your television, watching any number of home and garden decorating shows, including Hillary Clinton’s self-described guilty pleasure, “Love It Or List It.� That’s the HGTV show where a designer and a broker try to outdo each other in hopes of getting the homeowner either to stay or to sell. All that inspiration is likely to eventually have an effect. You’ll either switch to a movie, or you’ll decide your home needs some tender loving care. Maybe

Renovating for yourself Susan Barnett

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he recession may be easing, but it’s left its mark on homeowners. A site called RealtyPin lists three ways renovations have changed. Homeowners are paying cash for work on their homes, They’re designing those renovations themselves. And they’re haggling with contractors about price.

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I’m a real-estate salesperson. I’m seeing one other big shift. Instead of doing improvements with the thought of improving their home’s value, owners are improving their homes to make them more livable for themselves. People considering selling are still sprucing up the old home. They’re still painting and cleaning just before that for sale sign gets planted. But more of us are working on projects that may

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12, 2013 4 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley you’ll hire a contractor, but maybe you won’t. That depends on your budget, ambition and skill level. Not to mention your spouse’s patience with weekend do-it-yourself projects. Whether you tackle these yourself or hire an expert, here are five projects that aren’t necessarily about sprucing up for sale. They are for yourself.

Instead of doing improvements with the thought of improving their home’s value, owners are improving their homes to make them more livable for themselves. Turn your yard into an oasis HGTV has spoiled us all. How can we be content with a big expanse of grass after we’ve seen a screened in outdoor room, a gazebo, or a winding gravel path with lush perennials? Unless your yard is also a putting green, flowers and shrubs are waiting to transform your home. If you buy your plants at the end of the season, you’ll find great deals. If you ask your friends and neighbors to share with you when they thin out their own gardens, you can save a bundle. If you are smart and plant perennials that our local deer think taste nasty, you will be rewarded with years of color, not to mention the healthy exercise of regular weeding.

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Restage your home This can conceivably cost nothing. Nothing! Do you use your house the same way as you used to? Maybe you’ve got a guest room that never sees a guest. You could have a home office or a crafts area. Do you use your dining room for entertaining? Perhaps there’s another function for that room that would make more sense for the way you live. If the kids have grown, you’ve got rooms to repurpose and furniture you can move around. Do you have a screened-in porch? How about moving the futon out there so you can sleep there

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on hot summer nights? All that scrap wood you’ve been holding on to could become shelving in your garage or basement, creating a new workshop. Of course, once you decide to repurpose a room, chances are you’ll repaint. And then you’ll decide that a new chair and a new lamp are required. It could add up. But remember: it could be done for nothing if you really try. Let your floors go naked Wall-to-wall carpet is nice underfoot, but let’s be honest. It’s never really clean, is it? If you’ve got hardwood or even pine floors under that carpeting, the entire look of a room will change once the carpet comes up and the floors are scrubbed and shined. If the floors are in good shape, all that’s needed is a good cleaning. If they need refinishing, that’s a bigger project, but it’ll have a big impact, too. If the floors are a hopeless mess, check out some of the floor-painting ideas on home design sites. Whether it’s traditional porch gray, a retro black and white

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diamond design, or a glossy red, a painted floor can create an entirely new mood in a room. Update your kitchen and bath cabinets Cabinets are expensive. Even replacing only the doors is no small investment. But we’ve come a long way from the days of nicked and chipped paint that looks worse than the original cabinets. Rust-Oleum has a new product called Cabinet Transformations that’s specially made to coat cabinets. It can make them look like they’re stained an entirely new color. According to “This Old House,” using a top-quality pigmented paint is also a safe bet for breathing new life into tired cabinets. The trick is to sand, and to be careful with your brushstrokes. Most sites, including paint sites, will recommend using an alkyd over a water-based paint. These provide the finish and durability you want. If that sounds exhausting, a simpler answer is to get new pulls for your cabinets and drawers. You’d be surprised what a difference they can make.

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And just in case all this sounds a bit too ambitious, there’s a simple way to ease into home improvement of the do-it-yourself variety. Rearrange the furniture. Just moving your things around can make a room seem new. Once you’ve cleaned that area under the sofa you haven’t gotten to in years, chances are you’re going to be inspired to do more. Why not? The days will be getting cooler and the nights are going to be longer. There’s plenty of time.

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Update your lighting This is one of those small changes that might just amaze you. Switch out your harsh white bulbs for some softer pink ones. Or go for mood lighting and use some amber bulbs. Try installing some indirect lighting near the floor or the ceiling to create some dramatic shadows and highlights, or install small spots over your favorite artwork to call attention to it. With today’s LED technology, the lighting options are endless. But my favorites remain the so-called Edison bulbs. For about ten dollars, you can turn a bare bulb fixture into a really great-looking light, just because the bulbs and their filaments are a design feature all their own. ●

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12, 2013 6 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley

The challenges of organizing a home If you don’t need it, or you don’t absolutely love it, it’s taking up space Sharyn Flanagan

Before & After BEDROOM CLOSET

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rofessional organizer Sue Story has worn a lot of hats in her lifetime. She’s been a publicist, model, bartender, secretary, film gaffer and freelance writer, among other occupations. And if all those professions had actually left her with hats to wear, she would have found a place for each one in an organized closet. Establishing a place for everything is really the key to maintaining a clutter-free environment, Story says. She recommends changing one’s habits to take the time to put things away. Story began her business, ClutterBusters, in 2000, when some of her editing clients asked her to help organize their offices. She’d always been a very organized person, and found that she really enjoyed helping people eliminate clutter. Story currently teaches basic organizing, time/paper management, downsizing and pre-sale home staging in continuing education courses at various schools in the region, and writes a biweekly column on clutter issues and organizing for several newspapers in Columbia and Greene counties, including the Catskill Daily Mail, Register Star, and Mountain Eagle. Story recently shared some before-and-after photographs of de-cluttering she performed for some of her clients (with their permission, of course), and spoke about the challenges inherent in organizing particular areas of the home.

OFFICE

Bedroom closet GUEST ROOM What was happening here? The client was randomly putting things away because she was busy and in a rush. She felt she didn’t have time, and the situation got out of hand. Did you change the structure of the closet or just rearrange the contents? We left the closet the way it was, but we took everything off the doors and moved things to where they fit. She didn’t know how to use the space correctly. She had long things on the upper rack, and we were able to put two pairs of shoes in each compartment in some cases. What are the particular challenges of keeping a bedroom closet organized? A good part of it is to take that extra minute to put things where they belong. Everything has a home, no matter where in the house it is. The other part of it is when they save clothes that they think might come back in style, or that cost a lot, or that they just love them, even though [the item] doesn’t fit and never will. I usually ask one question: Do you absolutely love this or need this? This is the criterion I give everyone; whether you’re going to buy something or keep something, it applies to everything in our lives. If you don’t need it, or you don’t absolutely love it, it’s taking up space. If a client is keeping something for “when I lose weight,” we put those things in a storage bin and look at them again in the next year or six months. Sometimes keeping one or two items like that in a closet is not a bad idea — it can be motivational — but not when it’s keeping you from having space. Things should be able to hang without creasing.

Office What were the issues involved here? This client had an assistant who didn’t put things where they belong. The small refrigerator was used by others, too, so several people had access to that area. This desk was in a workplace, but the same principles apply to a home office. If it’s a shared space,

you have to get that person on board. It’s important if you have an assistant that they know where things are kept and that they respect that things need to be put back where they belong. Also, with desks, put things you need the most out where you can reach them, and put the things you don’t use very much in a drawer. The less you have on the desk, the easier it is to work at it. And everything should be on your dominant side. If you’re left-handed and things are on the right, you’ll have to keep reaching over to get things. What changes did you make here?

We set her up with an inbox and outbox, and gave her a home for things. We took away the books she didn’t use and put them on a bookshelf elsewhere, just keeping the ones she needs all the time at her desk. She had room for the decorative objects up top, but I just rearranged them in a more aesthetically pleasing manner. It’s okay to keep objects like that at your desk as long as it’s limited; just some things with special meaning that make you feel good to personalize the space. Whether you’re working from home or work, it’s more conducive to our peace of mind and we’re happier when we like the way things look.


Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley

SHED

Guest room

Shed

That’s a lot of stuff piled on the bed in this room in the “before” picture. With guest rooms, people have to remember that it’s a room, not a closet. They’ll toss things in and say, Let’s just throw it in here. And once you let it get out of hand, it becomes overwhelming. Then people don’t know where to begin. But clutter blocks dirt and it blocks energy, which is all the more reason to take a minute now to save an hour later. The “after” picture certainly looks more inviting. What did you do with all the stuff? In this case, the client was wonderful about getting rid of things, which is not the norm. And it’s always the client’s decision whether to toss something. They’re a part of the process. But she was having company and needed the room cleared. We organized this room in about three hours by getting rid of a lot of things that went to charity and we found places for everything else.

What’s the story behind this shed? A lot of us use sheds as a garage for storing stuff that we don’t have room for in the house that can be in a non-temperature-controlled environment. The

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problem with this one was that in the winter, it was cold, and they didn’t want to spend the time putting things away and just shoved things in. How should one organize a shed, then? If you get really good plastic storage bins, then when they’re closed, things can be kept in the shed without getting moldy or mildewed. You can even keep out-of-season clothing and fabric outside if it’s in a good solid bin. Invest in the more expensive ones that really shut tight. Establish a place for things and a habit of putting things back where they belong. If we don’t change our habits, the clutter will be back. And be creative with storage. We used file cabinets here to store extension cords and things like that. Just because it’s a file cabinet doesn’t mean it can only store files. I don’t even see a pathway in the “before”’ picture. How could you put anything away without one? A pathway here was critical to be able to access everything. And the more you use something, the more accessible it should be. If you don’t use things very often, like Christmas decorations, put them up high or behind things. Here they had a lawnmower and carpet cleaner that needed to be accessible. Put those where you can get to them. Put some thought into the initial process of what you need and keep it up from there. ● For more information, contact Sue Story at 6576644 or info@clutterbustersny.com.

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photos by john gruen

Assert Yourself ing principle behind turning a house into a home. That philosophy was first articulated nearly 30 years ago when Osofsky opened her first store in Pine Plains. For her, the focus has always been on encouraging people to look within themselves for design inspiration. “It’s about finding your own style and surrounding yourself with things that you love, not buying a decorator’s vision,” says Osofsky. “Love Where You Live: At Home In The Country,” is about 18 country homes in the Hudson Valley and New England. While the styles range from contem-

Using personal style to make a house a home Sharyn Flanagan

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porary to traditional or somewhere in between, the homes all have something in common. They’re about homeowners who created warm, comfortable and welcoming environments to live in by authentically expressing their personalities. Beyond taking inspiration from looking at the photographs in a book like this, how does a person go about creating an environment where they, too, will “love where they live,” especially if they haven’t had the background in art or design that enables one to put things together in an aesthetically-pleasing way? Osofsky’s advice is to “look at the things that inspire you, that you connect with.” When someone comes in looking for design help, the first step, she says, is to suggest they walk around the store and see what it is they connect with. Then the person can be helped to figure out what it is they’re responding to.


Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley

you can get your soul and your personality into your home is to be a part of the process and have things around that you care about.” The homes featured in Osofsky’s book, co-authored with friend and writer Abby Adams, are clearly upscale and elegant dwellings. But the design principles within can be applied on any budget. Develop that eye for what inspires you, says Osofsky, and you can find good things anywhere, from tag sales to auctions to the side of the road. Mix things up, displaying your finds together simply because you like the way these things look together. “Buy what you really love, and you will find a place for it,” advise the authors. That doesn’t mean it should all go out on display at once. Collections can be rotated, which prevents clutter, too. Have a realistic understanding of what your needs are, and don’t forget about comfort and livability. One can have a beautiful room with a stylish sofa, says Osofsky, but if you don’t want to “plop down in it,” you won’t be comfortable there. That underlying essence of a well-loved home was something that Osofsky says she and Adams knew from the start. It was the important qualification for including the homes they chose for their book. They had many more homes under consideration than they could use in the book, but they knew what they were looking for. “We went to some homes where you walk in and say, Oh, wow, this looks great, but if we didn’t feel that the essence of the people who lived there was in the home, we didn’t include them.” The homes featured are special homes design-wise, Osofsky says, “but what I connect with is that you see the spirit of the people that live there.” No props or merchandise were brought in when shooting the photographs of the homes for the book. “[Hammertown Barn stylist] Wanda Furman helped us with the angles in the shots, but everything you see in the photos belonged to the homeowners.” Hammertown Rhinebeck will host the official launch of “Love Where You Live” with a book signing and reception on Friday, September 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. The authors will be present. The following night, Saturday, September 21, they’ll hold a signing at the Pine Plains store from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Information can be found at www.hammertown.com. ●

Look at the things that inspire you, that you connect with.

Is it bold patterns? Interesting textiles? Simple lines? “You have to bring your inner self into this,” says Osofsky. “That might sound touchy, feely, but I always say to people we’re helping with design that I want to see an inspiration: clippings from magazines, or things on Pinterest. I want to see pictures of what you’re connecting with.” Even if a person has the means to hire a designer, she adds, they should still look within for what inspires them, doing what artists and designers do:

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12, 2013 10 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley can bring a project in for help. Sometimes all that keeps a person from finishing a project is getting to a “stuck” point and not knowing how to proceed. Getting instruction at a local yarn shop is actually an important link in the knitting universe for today’s knitters. The people who knit today are often different, historically speaking, than those of generations who learned how to knit from their moms, aunts or grandmothers. In the late 1970s, as women came into their own in the business world, knitting fell out of favor. It was perceived for a while as a throwback to a time of stifling domesticity. Now that the pendulum has swung back to center. Many young women, and men too, are taking up knitting as a form of self-expression (and as part of the new DIY economy). There is an entire new generation of people who didn’t learn how to knit at home from relatives and need someone to teach them. The local yarn shop fills that void. Here are three of them:

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here’s something about autumn and knitting that just go together. The earlier nightfall and cooler temperatures outside invite thoughts of cozying up inside with a skein or two — or three — of a thick and chunky yarn with lots of texture. Or maybe a timeless tweed, or something warm and fuzzy. With months to go before the holiday season arrives, it still feels possible to have time to complete projects for gift-giving without that last-minute stress in December. Scarves are often a go-to project for knitters. Beginners like the simplicity of accomplishing something beautiful with just a rectangle of knitted fabric, while advanced knitters use that basic shape to play with color and texture, or to try out cables and

complicated stitch patterns. It’s a good opportunity, too, to use some of the more expensive and unusual yarns that are pricey in sweater-quantity. But while it is rewarding to be able to wear one’s creation out into the world (and accept all those compliments), there are projects for the home that offer the same possibilities and are equally easy and satisfying to make. Take knitted accent pillows, which add the same visual warmth and texture to the sofa that the scarf adds to the wardrobe. Think of them as accessories for the home. And a good tip — choose a pillow form to insert in the finished pillow with dimensions two inches larger than the knitted squares (for example, a 14” x 14” pillow insert for a 12” x 12” knitted pillow) in order to create a smooth, plump pillow. Never knitted before, or need to brush up on skills? Local yarn shops offer all kinds of resources for newbies and experienced knitters alike (in addition to offering a more interesting selection of yarns than the box stores do). Most shops offer a combination of structured classes along with sessions where one

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The Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea Shop The Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea Shop at 50 Market Street in the village of Saugerties brings together two of the best remedies around to soothe the soul; a “cuppa” hot tea and knitting supplies. Owner Mary Ebel will complete her second year in business this October, and response to the shop has been so enthusiastic that she’s expanding this month to incorporate the space next door. There will be even more room to take classes and workshops, or to gather with friends free of charge after purchasing yarn to help each other with projects while sipping a cup of tea. Classes offered include beginning knitting lessons and more advanced workshops on finishing techniques along with instruction on related fiber arts like spinning and needle felting. Store hours change seasonally (the shop is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays through September). For updated information on current store hours, and dates, times and fees for workshops or lessons, call 246-2876 or visit www.yarnandteashop.com. White Barn Farm Sheep & Wool White Barn Farm Sheep & Wool is located at 815 Albany Post Road in New Paltz, just outside of Gardiner. Its owner, Paula Kucera, raises sheep and runs a fiber shop on site, offering, as she puts it, “a place where art and agriculture meet.” There are wonderful natural fiber yarns in the shop, some spun from the fleece of sheep which live there — the natural color of the yarn just as it came from the animal. Kucera offers her space twice-weekly for informal Knit Local Café gatherings every Wednesday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The sessions are free-of-charge for anyone who cares to drop by with a project to work on. (Snacks are welcome, too.) No reservation is necessary. On Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. through September, “Knitting Help is Here” offers the chance to drop in and get help figuring out where a project


Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley

| 11

Pinewoods Farm Wool Shop Pinewoods Farm Wool Shop is at 71 Phillips Road in Saugerties, about five miles outside of Woodstock. Proprietor Tina Bouton calls her shop “a fiber oasis in the woods,” open by chance or by appointment. (That way she can give her undivided attention to students inside taking private or group lessons in knitting, spinning, weaving and rug hooking.) In addition to the requisite assortment of yarns, books and supplies, Bouton also provides the space for “Second Saturday” monthly gatherings at which knitters are welcome to drop in from 10 a.m. to about 1 p.m. to get help with projects or to get inspired. All are welcome, and those sessions are free of charge. The shop will be open for browsers, too, during the Second Saturday gatherings, and the same applies for First Thursdays Spinning, Third Fridays Crochet and Knitting, and Fourth Thursdays Rug Hooking. For more information and fees for private or group lessons, call 246-2203 or visit www.pinewoodsfarmwoolshop.com. ●

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went wrong and how to get it back on track. The cost is $10, and advance email notice of coming in is appreciated. There are classes and workshops offered for a range of skill levels on a variety of topics that include learning to knit and dying wool with natural plant dyes. For more information and class

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12, 2013 12 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS How I created an upstairs apartment in my house and simplified my lifestyle by Lynn Woods

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hen I first got the idea of converting the second floor of my Victorian house into a one-bedroom apartment, it was for the extra income. But there were other reasons, such as the appeal of living more simply in a well-designed smaller space. Reducing my footprint seemed the responsible thing to do, and also I figured having less stuff and rooms to clean would give me more time and freedom. I’d bought this 1800-square-foot, three-bedroom house in Kingston in 1996, when I was a single mom and a freelance business writer. But times change: my son was now grown up and living in Washington, D.C., and the lucrative business-writing gigs that sustained me all those years had dried up. For several years I’d had a roommate, and the extra income helped. But I eventually tired of sharing my kitchen and bathroom with a stranger. What started out as a seemingly far-fetched idea increasingly gained momentum as the ticket to economic freedom and more purposeful living. So in the fall of 2011 I went into action, coming up with designs that would preserve my house’s charm. I contacted various contractors for estimates and checked in with the city to make sure the conversion was allowed. I originally budgeted the project at $15,000, which quickly climbed to $20,000 once I had gotten estimates. It ended up costing approximately $25,000, including the updating of my kitchen. But the investment was worth it. I’m perfectly happy living downstairs in my former dining and living rooms. I have great tenants, and the $850 a month in rent pays most of my bills. The first step was contacting the city. The zoning of my neighborhood allows for two-family properties, but the deputy chief of the fire department said I needed to get a parking variance, since my driveway accommodated only one car. I pointed out that there was plenty of space, with room for at least two cars in front of the house and lots of parking across the street. Besides, I reasoned, having an upstairs tenant would be no different from having a roommate or a teenage son with a car. But there’s no contesting the regulations, so I paid the $50 fee and obtained a variance after attending the monthly public hearing held by the zoning board. The deputy fire chief who’d toured my house and listened to my plans opined that parking would be the only issue. But when the building inspector visited a month later he informed me that the building code required construction of a firewall between the two units. I might even have to install a sprinkler system. Each unit needed to have a separate entrance; I had counted on both units using the front door. Fortunately, the city building safety and zoning officials turned out to be reasonable, coming up with solutions on their next visit that made the project possible yet code-compliant. The front door would serve as the entrance for the upstairs apartment. The back door off my dining room, which led onto a deck

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that fortunately had stairs to the patio below, would qualify as the entrance to the downstairs unit. That took care of the separate-entrances requirement. To create a firewall, I would have to close off the

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12, 2013 14 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley Continued from page 12 permit in hand and soon after one from the city electrical inspector as well. Meanwhile, I had been contacting contractors recommended by friends and acquaintances. Some of the estimates were astonishingly high: $13,500 for the electrical work, for instance, and $30,000 for installation of the kitchen upstairs, the bathroom downstairs, new walls, wall removals, etc. The contractor I had initially wanted to use but hesitated to contact because I had assumed his rate would be too high, judging from the gorgeous renovation of an early nineteenth-century house he had done for

friends down the street, turned out to be the most reasonable as well as the most qualified. His name is Jay Bedient, and his design sense was invaluable in coming up with workable layouts for both units. His solutions minimized changes to the existing footprint and were reasonable cost-wise. My contractor also alerted me to problems and mistakes, which mainly had to do with the plumbing, such as wrong positioning of the water lines for the toilet in the new bathroom downstairs. In addition, he warned me of any additional costs in advance, so there were no rude surprises. Jay’s attention to detail made all the difference in

the look of a door frame or counter top. In the new kitchen upstairs, for example, he suggested tiling the small backsplash over the sink, stove and cabinet, the type of detail that made the apartment look great and helped me attract quality tenants. If you’re thinking of doing this, I cannot overemphasize enough the importance of hiring an honest, competent contractor with a good eye who communicates well. Also, find out well in advance of the planning process what your building code will allow, and get the inspector out to your house as soon as possible to avoid misunderstandings. The electrician I hired, Duane Krause, also did a

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Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley terrific job and was always available when needed. Duane charged less than a quarter of that ridiculous $13,500 estimate, which included adding new switches, lights and outlets, moving switches, and adding circuitry for the vent over the stove. He also separated the circuitry for the upstairs apartment and added a separate meter box for the unit, so that the new tenants would pay for their own electricity. (I pay for the heat, which is forced air from a gaspowered furnace.) The only disappointment was the two plumbers,

who didn’t get along. They weren’t helpful when there was a problem, and some of the work was sloppy. I had to hire another plumber to re-install both the dryer vent through the basement window and the downstairs kitchen sink. (That plumber, Bill Conner, was excellent.) There were no bathrooms or closets downstairs, so I planned to convert the pantry into a bathroom and carve a small closet out of the extra space in the kitchen. Since I was downsizing, I felt I could afford to make some upgrades, mainly to my kitchen, which

| 15

had crummy wooden cabinets, worn countertops, and lots of wasted space. With three six-foot-high windows and three door openings, the kitchen had never been laid out very efficiently. By closing off the doorway to a corridor leading to the front hall, we were able to tuck the refrigerator into a wall of cabinets. The kitchen is now more compact, efficient and attractive, with the new white Ikea cabinets stretching almost to the ceiling, butcher-block countertops, and a movable wooden cart serving as a butcher-block-

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photos by lynn woods

The tenant apartment

ridor opening and replaced the door to the living room, on the left, with sheetrock, as required by the building department. Upstairs, the door leading off the landing into the former front bedroom, on the left, now functioned as the front door of the apartment, and the corridor was walled off. What a relief I didn’t have to ruin my stairway by isolating it from the hall with an ugly divider wall. Except for the sheetrock over the door opening, the living room and the dining room remain unchanged, though their function is different: the living room now serves as my bedroom and office, while the dining room, which leads into the kitchen

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12, 2013 18 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley suitcases and other items. (I reserve the large closet on the upstairs landing for my use as well, since the upstairs apartment has three large closets.)

Things are different now, but I’m still in my old home, and as the years go by I appreciate more and more the fact that there’s no place like home Compared to the small, funky New York City apartments I lived in for many years prior to moving upstate in 1993, my Kingston apartment is magnificent. The back deck that overlooks my huge yard and garden prevents me from ever feeling claustrophobic, as do the many windows and high ceilings. Upstairs, I didn’t want the new apartment to feel like a bunch of bedrooms. It was Jay’s idea to open up the wall between the two large bedrooms on the left side of the house by creating a door-sized opening adjacent to a “window� above the lower half of the remainder of the wall. On the lower half of the wall on the backside he installed a kitchen sink, stove and small cabinet and butcher-block counter top, which just fit; a counter for a breakfast bar was extended on the front side, in the room now functioning as a living space, which I equipped with two high stools. Above the window on the back side, nestled up against the ceiling, Jay installed a row of horizontal Ikea cabinets. A closet near the doorway in the back room became a pantry with the addition of shelves, to make up for the lack of wall space and cabinetry. The portable island from Ikea, with deep drawers and butcher-block top, completed the transformation of the small space into a kitchen, with the rear part of the long, skinny former back bedroom providing

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enough space for a dining table or desk. (Years ago, I had created this room by removing the wall between two small bedrooms.) A doorway in what is now the kitchen-dining area opens up onto the central corridor, leading to the bathroom and a small bedroom, unchanged from before. The corridor now dead-ends in a wall, where it once led to the stair landing, which creates more space for shelving. My tenants love the clawfooted tub in the bathroom, along with the large old-fashioned sink, dark green and white tiling, and antique wooden medical cabinet, which has a beveled glass door. To save money, I had planned to simply touch up the worn spots on the wooden floors upstairs by sanding them and applying polyurethane. However, they looked pretty shabby after the mini-kitchen had been installed and the walls painted, so instead I spent an extra $1320 to have them refinished. It was a decision I never regretted, since the freshly refinished floors were a definite draw in getting quality tenants. (Downstairs, I wasn’t so picky. There’s some peeling paint on the living-room ceiling, which one day I will scrape off and repaint. No rush.) For weeks my main job was shopping for supplies, ranging from the kitchen cabinets to a new dryer, two stoves, and a refrigerator from Sears. I bought

tiling from Nelson Supply Company, the tile emporium in Saugerties, and a shower fixture from N & S Supply in Kingston. Every other day, it seemed, I had to make a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s, often to return a faulty product or wrong item. The list of items was endless, from bathroom shelving to door locks to hinges to a thermostat timer to paint. I became such a regular that the clerks at Home Depot knew my dog by name. One woman at the self-check-out counter took a terrific photo of my dog, which is still tucked into my bedroom mirror. I also discovered where my cost estimates were low, including doors but not the hardware, sinks but not drain stoppers. A year and a half later, my main worry is how well the appliances and materials will hold up, given the poor quality of today’s products. The butcher-block countertop in my kitchen already has several round pot stains, and I have learned to treat it like my best china, putting anything hot or messy on the cutting board instead. As for the rest, it’s still too early to tell. By early March we were almost done, as Jay installed the cabinets in the downstairs kitchen, finally bringing order to a domestic war zone. I hired him to help with the myriad little odds and ends, such as fixing the peeling paint in the upstairs tub by scraping and repainting around the drain and installing

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Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley in. They pay the rent on time. They are quiet, take good care of the place, and when I’m away, take out the garbage and bring in my mail. They are pleasant, helpful and responsible. They renewed their lease this past May, and though I know they have plans to eventually return to their native state I wish they could stay forever. That said, living downstairs definitely isn’t the same as having the whole house to myself. I miss my old bedroom, which was quieter and darker than sleeping in the former living room, on the street side of the house, and had a view of a small, treefilled valley, with a view of the Rondout Creek and the distant Gunks in winter. I can hear my tenants walking around upstairs. On the other hand, I don’t miss having to take care of the whole house. Living in half the space forces me to be more organized and simplifies eve-

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rything. When I come home from a trip, my bags are unpacked in half an hour, unlike before, when they would sit around for days. I don’t miss any of the stuff I got rid of. And it’s very nice getting that monthly check. Plus, while I don’t worry about crime, it feels safer having people living upstairs, especially when I’m away. All in all, the conversion was a good investment, and I’m glad that my old house turned out to be so adaptable to this new era of belt-tightening and frugal living. If ever the market changes and I decide to sell, the house could easily be converted back to a one-family, with the additional amenities of a downstairs full bathroom and closet. But I doubt that day will ever come. Things are different now, but I’m still in my old home, and as the years go by I appreciate more and more the fact that there’s no place like home. ●

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12, 2013 20 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley

photos by will dendis

A Kingston house of history The Chichester House on Fair Street Kandy Harris

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or Ann Marie DiBella and her family, their stately home on Fair Street in Kingston is more than just a dwelling. It’s important piece of history, woven into the fabric of the community. The DiBellas live in the legendary Chichester House, a nineteenth-century Second Empire Victorian built in 1850 for Frank and Emily Chichester and their family, prominent figures in the City of Kingston. Over the past 163 years, the house, which was placed on the National Historic Registry in 2001, has had seven owners. Each stayed in the house for at least two decades. The longevity of tenure the house’s various owners may be a testament to the property’s appeal. DiBella’s love for her home is palpable. She walked from room to room, starting with the grand sitting room to the right seen through the grand wood and glass front doors. “When we bought the house, it was like this,” said DiBella. The room has a high ceiling bordered by dental molding, so-called because if its resemblance to teeth. Toward the rear of the sitting room is an alcove with windows that open onto a screened-in porch. “These window treatments were there,” said DiBella. “We didn’t have to do a lot of decorating. We just put the furniture in.” The previous owner, Dr. Harri Janssen, had transformed the house to its former state of glory when he purchased the property in the 1960s. Before then, the Chichester House had been converted into a multi-resident boarding house, and the alcove, complete with a spiral staircase leading to the upper floors, was once the housemistress’s living quarters. Dr. Janssen removed the spiral staircase and recreated the original character of the sitting room. Across the hall is the formal dining room with French doors leading to an expansive front porch. “This room gets used during the holidays and for

entertaining,” said DiBella. Otherwise, it’s left alone. “When you have a house that’s over 5000 square feet, you just don’t use it all,” she said. Only three people live in the house. To the rear of the dining room is the kitchen, which the DiBellas had to revamp, adding new floors, countertops and paint. With each room, DiBella enumerated both the history of the house and her own family’s history of living in it. On the screened-in porch, DiBella told of when her daughter, Anna, then seven years old, had a slumber party in a tent in the back yard. “There was noise or something, and the next thing I knew they were all running and crying.” In order to salvage the party, DiBella and her husband Bob cleared out the screenedin porch so all ten girls could sleep there. “It was as good as camping,” said DiBella. “Camping in the city.” Restoration is “not simple work” The rest of the 5820-square-foot Victorian consists of five bedrooms, four bathrooms, three floors, a carriage house and a downstairs apartment currently occupied by a tenant. The apartment, according to DiBella, was once Dr. Janssen’s thriving ob-gyn practice. Now the exam rooms have become bedrooms, and the doctor’s office, resplendent with a large fireplace, is one of the apartment’s duo of living rooms. The second floor of the house consists of a large master bedroom with a dressing room. “Apparently,” said DiBella, “they [a previous occupant] had a lot of functions and balls. It’s kind of neat to think that there were women in ball gowns getting ready in here for their teas.” The second floor also contains their now-20-year-old daughter’s bedroom and private suite. “It’s almost like an apartment, so she should have no complaints,” said DiBella. “When we talk about selling [the house], she really doesn’t want

to hear it.” The DiBellas have placed the Chichester House on the market a few times, and they understand that at some point after retirement they may have to downsize. “I don’t relish that day,” DiBella said. She made no bones about the fact that owning an old house means endless home-improvement projects. Currently, the DiBellas are restoring the carriage house in the back of the property. Several interior home improvements are scheduled for the winter. There are also smaller projects, like patching holes. “It’s not simple work,” said DiBella. “If you want to restore it to what it should be, you need to spend the money and the time to do it.” In order to save money, explained DiBella, her husband, who has woodworking skills, performs many of the repairs and restorations himself. “We’re lucky that he can,” DiBella said, “but he works full -time, so we do it weekends. It definitely eats into a part of our life.” How they found the house In 1998, Robert and Ann Marie DiBella were living in Albany with their daughter. Ann Marie was attending graduate school, and Robert had just received a promotion through his employer, which meant


Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley

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commuting to Westchester every day. After searching high and low for the right house in places across the Hudson River and points south, ultimately the DiBellas settled on Kingston. Ann Marie DiBella had lived in Kingston most of her life. She had grown up in an apartment building across from Deising’s Bakery on North Front Street and attended St. Joseph’s School on Wall Street. “Instead of moving right from the Albany area directly to Westchester,” DiBella explained, “we decided to live here for a year and look for a house closer to where he worked, and we decided on Kingston because I knew this area.” What started out as a temporary living situation turned into something much more long-term when the DiBellas first laid eyes on the Chichester House.” The day that we found this house,” said DiBella, “we actually had five on the list, and this was the first one.” At the time, the DiBellas were clear on what they didn’t want: No generic ranch-style houses in large developments, and no suburbs. “We like the diversity of being in the city,” she said. Of the five houses their broker had lined up for them, three were on the same block. “This was the first one we walked into,” remembered DiBella, “and we both had the same reaction when we saw the living and the dining room, and that was that this is magnificent, that it was worth every penny they were asking for it.” After the DiBellas took the grand tour of the Chichester House, they were sold. The four other houses on the list paled in comparison. “We put an offer in [on the Chichester House] that day,” DiBella said. Roots in a community The old-world style and history of the Chichester House wasn’t all that won over the DiBellas. The history of uptown Kingston and historic Fair Street was also important. According to DiBella, Fair Street was once called Doctor’s Row due to its preponderance of doctor’s offices. Other houses on Fair Street present examples of well-preserved Victorian, Federalist and Colonial-style houses. Visiting architects and historically minded tourists go nuts over the immediate neighborhood. “All of our neighbors really take a lot of pride in their homes,” said DiBella. “We have some multiple dwellings, but they’re very well managed and maintained. It’s the kind of block that people are proud to be part of.” Furthermore, she continued, “It’s the best walking neighborhood in Kingston, I think. You don’t even really need a car to get to groceries, to church, to restaurants, to the park. Everything is within a few blocks, and we really love that.” The DiBellas have been active in the Kingston community. Ann Marie was an alderwoman from 2004 to 2009, and she now works as a social worker for the local school district. Bob, director of Ulster County Area Transit, was a member of the Friends of Historic Kingston and Kingston Uptown Business Association. The Chichester House has hosted a number of fundraising and community events. Even though Bob DiBella didn’t grow up in Kingston, his wife jokingly calls him “the ambassador.” Their lives are as interwoven with Kingston as the house in which they live is. Ann Marie DiBella is proud of her community and her personal history with the city. “It’s wonderful to have been born and raised here and to know everybody and everybody knows you,” DiBella said. “And it’s also challenging. There’s a lot of history that we all have, but the nice thing about this town is that we all have that.” Her memories of growing up in Kingston were rekindled through raising her daughter here. “At St. Joseph’s School, my daughter wore the same uniform I wore when I went there. Sister Dorothy, her librarian, was my second grade teacher. Going back, picking her up from school, the smells of erasers and the lunch room and the classrooms brought it all back,” said DiBella. “There’s something to be said for roots in a community.” ●


12, 2013 22 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley

An eye for the picturesque Architectural historian Bill Rhoads’ unacademic approach and keen sense of appreciation has detected all kinds of unusual local wonders Lynn Woods

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illiam Rhoads, retired professor of art and architecture at SUNY New Paltz and author of two regional architectural guides, traces his fascination with architecture to the car trips he took with his parents and two brothers around the United States when he was a boy growing up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After moving to the Hudson Valley with his wife in 1970, Rhoads continued the habit, exploring the region by car to discover interesting architectural roadside attractions, camera in hand. That interest eventually led to the 2011 publication of his book, Ulster County New York: The Architectural History & Guide, following the publication of his The Architectural Guide to Kingston, New York in 2003. Thanks to Rhoads’ thorough research, graceful writing style, and nonacademic approach — he relies on his instincts for what’s interesting, revealing nuggets of social history as well as architectural insights — the Ulster County Architectural History & Guide is a great read. Rhoads ferrets out architectural idiosyncrasies off the beaten path of the local landscape and brings an expert’s appreciation to their back stories. While some entries no longer exist — including the Depression-era complex of abandoned trolley cars used as vacation cabins in Ulster Park, of which the only trace is an advertisement, and the shingled summer “cottage” of millionaire Samuel Coykendall on Balsam Lake, which was designed by Downing Vaux and unfortunately torn down by the state in 2009 — most sites can be observed and admired today, some from the window of your car. Some are well known, such as the collection of rustic cabins at Byrdcliffe, located on a mountainside north of Woodstock; the 18th-century stone houses lining the main street of Hurley and clustered along Huguenot Street in New Paltz; the sprawling, eclectic alpine hotel complex of Mohonk Mountain House; and Kingston’s Stockade District (which is underrepresented, since the Ulster County guide is meant to be a companion for the Kingston guide, which describes the area in detail). Checking out the county’s architecture is a great excuse for a pleasant drive through the gorgeous countryside. Here are a few suggestions from Rhoads. The Town of Esopus is home to a number of stone farmhouses, which are scattered along the Rondout

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(Clockwise from top-left) The Boulders, Cragsmoor, Ellenville; John Sudam House (Friends of Historic Kingston, Fred J. Johnston Museum); Hasbrouck House, Huguenot St., New Paltz

Creek and Wallkill River, plus stately Hudson River homes and the Civil War-era hamlet of Rifton. The houses in West Park are particularly fine, according to Rhoads, one of which, the Smith House, contains tiles crafted by Henry Mercer, a renowned arts-andcrafts artisan. Marbletown, which includes the hamlets of Stone Ridge on Route 209 and High Falls on Route 213, is another part of the county that is chock-full of old stone houses, historic barns and Victorian estates. The Bevier House, the large, square stone building with the hipped roof located on Route 209 that is the headquarters of the Ulster County Historical Society, is believed to have originated as a one-room gabled house, with loft and cellar, built by a soldier and farmer born in the Netherlands. One section was built in 1751 by Louis Bevier, Jr., who owned several slaves and kept a detailed account book about the construction, according to Rhoads. It also contains

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a colonial kitchen, actually a 1953 reconstruction by Myron Teller, a Kingston-based architect descended from the Dutch, who was a central figure in the county’s colonial revival movement. Teller’s use of iron hardware, a combination of authentic and newly forged pieces, and re-created hearth, complete with iron crane, looks authentically Dutch. “He would take an old building and make it look more colonial than it had ever been,” said Rhoads. Many a stone house in the area has been “Tellerized,” which typically includes the addition of dormer windows and built-in cabinetry. Rhoads also recommends a drive to the Town of Denning, which has the benefit not only of pretty scenery but also buildings that can easily be seen from the road. Here you will find a mélange of styles. The John Quincy Adams Ward House, in Peekamoose, was built as a fishing lodge by a prominent sculptor, probably in 1898. Located on the grounds of a fishing club that Ward belonged to, in what was then deep wilderness, the multi-gabled house has distinctive dragon-headed gables, inspired by medieval Norwegian architecture, according to Rhoads. In contrast, the Julius Forstmann Lodge, which today is part of the Frost Valley YMCA, on Route 47, reflects Germanic tradition, with its solid walls of cobblestone and shingles and gothic windows. It was built for the German-born proprietor of a woolen manufacturing company based in Passaic, New Jersey. The Grey Lodge, on Denning Road,


Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley

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tours and other events the community sponsors each year. One place that beckons you out of your car for a stroll along a giant expanse of water and spectacular mountain views is the Ashokan Reservoir. The classical style of the accompanying buildings and park-like ambience is urban and conveys a certain

Checking out the county’s architecture is a great excuse for a pleasant drive through the gorgeous countryside

Top: John Ward House, Peekamoose, Denning; bottom: Smith House, West Park

has the irimoya hipped roof and upturned eaves of traditional Japanese architecture, reflecting yet another style that was used for the palatial summer retreats of the wealthy at the turn of the 20th century. “Out in the wilderness, we have these foreign fascinating buildings,” said Rhoads. “The architects and their clients were traveling, reading books, and becoming connected to the world. On the other hand, you have people like Teller, with his passion for all things Dutch.” The building that best reflects the high style more common on the opposite side of the river is the Payne House, located on Route 9W in Esopus. The Italian Renaissance-style mansion, now owned by Marist College, was designed by the famous New York firm Carrere and Hastings. Another unique example of fine house architecture is the Schmidt House off North Manor Avenue in Kingston. Designed by Lewis Colt Albro and Harrie T. Lindeberg, who both apprenticed at McKim, Mead & White and were responsible for some of the most sophisticated country houses in Long Island and Westchester County, the house resembles an English cottage, with its half-timbered stucco walls, small-paned casement windows, and a low-hanging, curved roof,



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whose texture and shape resembles thatch. Another architectural destination that’s well worth the journey is Cragsmoor, site of a former artists’ colony located on a mountain that soars above Ellenville. The Boulders is a Shingle-style house designed by Frederick Dellenbaugh, who was an amateur, as evidenced by the profusion of roof slopes, window types and projecting bays and porches which don’t quite harmonize the way such features do in the capacious, almost sculptural “cottages” built by McKim, Mead & White and William Ralph Emerson in places like Newport. The house also incorporates bits and pieces from other buildings, such as the front door and entranceway columns, which would be a laughable perversion at a Gilded-Age resort. But is it no less delightful, said Rhoads. If you’re planning a hike to Sam’s Point, you have to drive through Cragsmoor to get there, so it’s worth taking a look around. Also keep an eye out for house

ambivalence, said Rhoads. “New York City wanted to create an outpost of itself here in rural Ulster County,” he explained. “Whether that was in response to the feelings of local people who were not necessarily really keen about the city coming out here, whether it was unconnected to the local opposition or not, I don’t know. Presumably the city thought it was doing a good thing by bringing classical beauty to the rural area.” He compared the stone Lower Gate Chamber to the Boston Public Library. Rhoads’ book lists more than houses. There are railway trestles, highway bridges, barns and storefronts. Also plenty of railway stations, many of which survive: Rhoads is particularly fond of the stations built by the New York Ontario and Western Railway, which were designed by the same architectural firm in Tudor and Arts and Crafts style. Some are now homes. Fine specimens can be found in High Falls and Cottekill. The station at Eastern New York Correctional Facility at Napanoch has been wonderfully restored, he noted. Its Mission style is a bit unusual, adopted from Sullivan County resorts and buildings found further south, in New Jersey — and as far west as California, Rhoads said. The book also lists numerous churches. If you visit one of these on a Saturday, you’ll likely bump into a member arranging flowers or otherwise preparing for the next day’s service and can take a peek inside, said Rhoads. His personal favorite is the tiny Lyonsville Reformed Church in Marbletown. “It’s a perfect example of how you take the classical architecture of the Greek Revival and reduce it down to its barest function, which is a rectangular box with a gabled roof and a few Carpenter Greek details.” Rhoads’ observations are rarely without a dry wit. “Most of the churches in the county date after 1840 and tend to be Gothic, a style that assured the congregation, We’re not pagan,” he said. In the category of see-it-before-it’s-gone, he recommends two sites: the Trumbull House on Marius Street in Kingston and the Sheffield Estate. The Gothic-style Trumbull House, which has a steep slate roof, pointed dormers and board siding in various patterns, was designed by Arthur Crooks, who also did Kingston’s city hall and Rosendale’s St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. It is in serious disrepair, though citizens are trying to save it. The long-abandoned Sheffield estate, formerly the Dragon Inn, is on Route 9W in Saugerties. It is in similar desperate straits. The Victorian mansion, designed by New York architect Alfred H. Thorp, has an elaborate pyramidal roof fitted with numerous gables and dormers. Rhoads writes that it is “one of Ulster’s most complexly picturesque houses.” l

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12, 2013 24 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley

Kingston B&B

Creating a haven History and decor of local bedand-breakfasts Lynn Woods

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he legacy of earlier times can be found on every Main Street and back alley, rural road and stretch of riverfront, of the region. Beginning with the early Dutch settlers and climaxing with the bustling industry of the mid- to late-nineteenth century, when the Hudson River was full of ships under steam or sail carrying the extraction or manufacture of natuULSTER PUBLISHING’S REASON

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ral resources from bricks to wood to cement, the Hudson Valley was a very bountiful place. The old historic houses often proclaimed the success or eccentricity of their owners through their distinctive architecture. Some have been made into bed-and-breakfasts, cozy havens offering the traveler a respite, engagement with interesting architecture, and a glimpse into some part of the past. The Kingston B&B, located at 131 Fair Street,

was one of those fine, elegant houses that fell on hard times in the 1920s. For the next 30 years, a pair of sisters ran it as a house of ill repute. One recently deceased resident in his nineties who grew up across the street remembered Babe Ruth strolling up the sidewalk, cigar in hand and a lady on either arm. Other patrons included Legs Diamond and a variety of powerful state politicians. The house reportedly had 13 bathrooms. When owner Alicja Kowalska began renovating the place, she discovered plumbing in the strangest places, including off the parlor. Kowalska bought the house at foreclosure in

2007 and following a restoration has been running it as a B&B with five guest rooms. The house once again resembles the elegant and very respectable house built by Englishman Thomas Southwick in 1876, reflecting the owner’s desire to offer guests a quiet, spacious and gracious retreat. Back then, a property was taxed by the number of rooms, a fact that didn’t deter Southwick from creating his-andher suites, each with a separate sitting area and bedroom, off the second-floor central hall. Nor did he feel the need to lower the ceiling on the second floor, as was common: the first and second floors each have eleven-foot-high ceilings, embellished with floral plaster moldings. Kowalska discovered, as she removed many layers of paint, that the large ball topping the banister was actually the curved and incised form of a stylized sunflower. All the woodwork — stairway, doors, moldings — is oak, chestnut or cherry, with walnut wainscoting in the hall. Some ceilings are still covered in the original tin. The colored glass tiles surrounding the fireplaces are unusual, evocative of the Pre-Raphaelites. In an upstairs bedroom, for example, they depict a flock of stylized birds flitting between two medieval figures along the sides, one a woman in a flowing gown and the other her romancing troubadour. Kowalska has furnished the house with reproduction and original antiques, including vintagelooking chandeliers and ornate, oversized beds. The circa-1900 Queen Anne dining-room set once belonged to Margaret Moen, a Kingston high school English teacher whose framed picture also graces the dining room. Kowalska replaced the missing fireplace in the parlor with a handsome carved and spindled oak mantel from another old house in the area. To compensate for the lack of electricity at the time — a few of the original gas fixtures are visible — the windows are enormously high, to maximize the light. Kowalska has hung them with sumptuous, custom-made drapes, with a layer of black cloth inside the lining to help insulate the house in winter and enable guests to sleep in. That’s the kind of amenity that truly offers travelers a haven from the outside world. Restoring the house to its former grandeur “was very rewarding,” said Kowalska, who formerly ran a travel agency in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Her next big project is rebuilding the spacious front porch, with bistro-style seating for her guests. The porch would overlook the row of mansions across the street, revealing a spectacle of Victorian splendor. The Renwick Clifton House in Saugerties is proof that the grand Dutchess County estates don’t have a monopoly on splendid Hudson River views. Built as a summer home by John Watts Kearny, a New York

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The couple give their guests free run of the house. They can warm themselves before the gas fireplaces in the book-lined library and living room in winter. In summer, breakfast is served on the 40-foot-long back porch, where guests have the pleasant illusion they can walk down to the river undulating at their feet, thanks to the privacy of the five-acre property, where nary a house is visible. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a picnic area and walking trails. What about that patrician-sounding name? Miriam said Renwick Hurry was one of the two sons of the second owners and Clifton is what the family called the house, after a family coat of arms from their native Ireland.

The Renwick Clifton House

detailed plasterwork, and upstairs wide-board floors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When we put in the plumbing in, we could see the craftsmanship,â&#x20AC;? said Miriam. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of the work was done by hand.â&#x20AC;? In terms of the decorating, the couple wanted â&#x20AC;&#x153;to create a timeless elegant atmosphere where people still felt comfortable,â&#x20AC;? not a stuffy, overly formal museum filled with expensive antiques. What resulted is â&#x20AC;&#x153;a colonial feel, as if the house was renovated at the turn of the last century.â&#x20AC;? Antiques serve as accents to the main furnishings, which are mostly reproductions chosen for quality and comfort.

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City-based shipper of produce, the mansion is situated on a bluff to catch the cool river breezes. Kearnyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brother-in-law was Henry Barclay, who brought the industrial revolution to Saugerties. Kearny and his wife later lived full-time in the house, which remained in the family until 1980. The tall Doric pillars along the front give the 1812 Federal and Greek Revival-style structure the feel of a Southern plantation house. When Miriam and Eric Adams bought the property eight years ago, â&#x20AC;&#x153;it was in pretty rough shape,â&#x20AC;? said Miriam. A drainage system had to be installed in the foundation, the walls replastered, bathrooms added, a new roof put on, and the house hooked up to the town sewer. On the plus side, many of the houseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original features were intact, including the marble fireplaces with large mirrors, the crown molding,

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12, 2013 26 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley and antiques picked up on the couple’s travels. They include velvet chairs custom made in Iran and a Biedermeier cabinet in the Tudor Room and an eighteenth-century headboard from a French country house, antique Aubusson rug, and rare Chinese sculpture in the Chateau Room. The eight-acre property includes a gazebo overlooking the Esopus below the house and a sculpture garden meandering along a path in the woods, consisting of pieces representative of various modernist styles by Schmidbauer.

The Grand Dutchess

Hampton Court and other authentic examples of English Tudor architecture. When Josepha Gutelius and her husband, Benno Schmidbauer, bought the property in 1980, the house was a near ruin. The grounds were so overgrown they didn’t even know there was a western view. The couple repointed all the brick and rebuilt the high chimneys, rewired and replumbed the building, constructed custom-made storm windows for all the leaded-glass casement windows, installed a ceiling (which was missing) in the dining room, repaired the roof, and removed two inches of linoleum from the hardwood floors. Today the house offers guests a distinctly European experience. There are two guestrooms. The large Tudor Room is true to its name. The hand-hewn

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chestnut ceiling beams and massive wood-burning fireplace have the rugged ambience of an English castle. Guests can bring their dogs, which enhances the sense of staying in a late medieval manor. The room opens out to a private Italianate loggia overlooking the pool and mountain views. The Chateau Room, which has French doors opening to the garden, is entirely different in feel, more akin to staying in the Petit Trianon at Versailles. It incorporates seventeenth-century panels from a French Rococo chateau, complemented by gold-leaf paneling and mirrors artificially aged by Schmidbauer, who is a sculptor. He also stained and applied gold leaf to the plywood floor for a tromp l’oeil effect of luxuriant marble. Both rooms are furnished with family heirlooms Landscaping Lawn installation Ponds Retaining walls Stone work ...and much more

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Located across Memorial Park in Red Hook, the Grand Dutchess, with its high mansard roof, capacious front porch and tall windows, is a bona-fide painted lady. It was built in 1874 by William Hoffman, who ran ships up and down the Hudson River transporting goods and was partner in a tobacco factory in town, according to owner Elizabeth Pagano. (Back then, tobacco was a local industry; it was grown in western Connecticut and made into cigars in Red Hook, she said.) By the late nineteenth century, prosperous merchants like Hoffman could own large homes with marble fireplaces and elaborate trim thanks to cheap factory production. It was no longer just the inherited wealthy who could afford a mansion dripping with decorative woodwork. All the millwork in the house, from the moldings to the doors to the floors, was likely ordered out of a catalog and shipped to the site, as was the lumber for the stick-built house, Pagano said. Oak, cherry and walnut predominate;, She and her husband, Harold Gruber, discovered the front and back porches were constructed of redwood in the process of rebuilding them. The house, which has eleven-foot-high ceilings on the first floor, has two sets of double-hung windows in each opening, with the second set functioning as storms. The house was electrified, which reflected Hoffman’s progressive attitude. Since there was no gasworks in the village, it was also the only option for artificial light. The third floor housed the servants — likely a cook, a housekeeper, and a nurse for the children, Pagano said. The house remained in the Hoffman family until the 1940s. By then, it was being run as a hotel, with a garage located in the carriage house (now a separate property). For two years in the 1930s it was leased by the Hoffmans to the school district, who operated it as the Red Hook High School. Under new owners, the property was called the Dutchess Hotel, with dinners served on weekends and a bar in the basement. The house was bought in the 1970s by an IBMer, whose wife operated it as rooming house populated by single men. “Locally it was known as the lonely hearts club,” said Pagano. When the IBMer got trans-

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Home Hudson Valley Fall Home Improvement Editorial EDITOR:

Will Dendis Joe Morgan CONTRIBUTORS: Susan Barnett, Sharyn Flanagan, Mookie Forcella, Kandy Harris, Dion Ogust, Lynn Woods AD PLACEMENT:

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Geddy Sveikauskas Dolores Giordano CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER: Joe Morgan ADVERTISING DIRECTOR: Genia Wickwire ADVERTISING PROJECT MANAGER: Sue Rogers DISPLAY ADS: Lynn Coraza, Pam Courselle, Elizabeth K. W. Jackson, Ralph Longendyke, Linda Saccoman PRODUCTION MANAGER: Joe Morgan PRODUCTION: Karin Evans, Josh Gilligan, Rick Holland CLASSIFIED ADS: Amy Murphy, Tobi Watson CIRCULATION: Dominic Labate ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER:

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lster Publishing Publishing is is an anindependent, independent, locally locally owned l ster newspaper company. It began in 1972 with Woodstock owned news paper company. It began in Kingston Times, and now publishes New Paltz Times, Times andthe Saugerties Times, plus Almanac 1972 with Woodstock Times, and nowWeekly, an arts & entertainment guide that covers Ulster and Dutchess publishes the New Paltz Times, Kingston Times and counties. In recent years we’ve added websites for these publiSaugerties Times, plus Almanac Weekly, an arts & cations, plus special sites dedicated to tourism, health, business and dining. Check themthat out at hudsonvalleytimes.com. entertainment guide covers Ulster and Dutchess Ulster Publishing hasyears a mission: to added reflect and enrich our counties. In recent we’ve websites for communities. Our content is 100-percent local - locally written, phothese publi cations, plus and special sites dedicated to tographed, edited, printed distributed.

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Home Hudson Valley: Fall Home Improvement is an annual publication produced by Ulster Publishing. It is distributed in the company’s four weekly newspapers and separately at select locations, reaching an estimated readership of over 50,000. Its website is www.homehudsonvalley.com. For more info on upcoming special sections, including how to place an ad, call 845-334-8200, fax 845-334-8202 or go to www.ulsterpublishing.com.


Sept. 12, 2013 Home Hudson Valley ferred to South Carolina in 1978, IBM bought the house — a typical part of the relocation package back in those days, she said. Despite the turnover and various uses, the house was in good condition when Pagano and Gruber bought it in 1994. The nine guest rooms and public rooms, which include two parlors, are furnished with Victorian antiques and reproductions. (Some of the new reproductions are both very fine in quality and affordable, thanks to electronic lathes that can re-create the intricate shapes and patterns of the period, Pagano said.) Life here is both full of nostalgia and relaxed: “Guests spend a lot of time in the front porch, which catches the eastern sun in the morning and is cool in the evening after the heat of the day,” she said. Pagano hangs out mostly in the kitchen, which was recently renovated and includes custom-made cabinetry by David Zawistowski, featuring Peruvian walnut and zebra wood on maple bases, and a large palladium window. Not every B&B is historic and Victorian. Valerie Valente, the new owner of the Hyde Park B&B, is a fan of mid-twentieth-century design. She was thrilled to discover the circa-1964 property on Route 9. It has seven guest rooms. Technically a central hall colonial, the house also has Mission and ranch-style features. It’s proof that modern doesn’t have to be cookie-cutter or boring. ULSTER PUBLISHING’S REASON

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Each second-floor bedroom has a set of French doors that open onto a balcony. It was built for a wellknown local family who had scads of kids, hence the many bedrooms. Guests can stroll onto the Vanderbilt Mansion’s glorious grounds across the street or lounge on the B&B’s spacious lawn, shaded by magnificent elms and maples. The Hyde Park B&B is just like home for baby boomers, a throwback to the suburban houses where many of us grew up and which we viewed on The Dick Van Dyke Show. (In fact, Valente said she’s looking for a couch like the one featured in Rob and Laura’s New Rochelle living room.) Three of the bathrooms are original, one with yellow tile trimmed in black and another in a brown-and-tan color scheme. The raised fireplace in the den resembles the one in The Parent Trap: it is built of narrow stone and has a low bench. The entryway has a slate floor. Each of the guest rooms has a theme. The Vanderbilt suite suggests the opulence of its namesake across the street, while the Roosevelt Room conveys the old-fashioned Victorian sensibility of the nearby FDR house. Other themes are English Country, Tuscany, Japanese and Mombasa, reflecting the previous owners’ travels. Valente said she plans to replace

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the African theme with Portugal, reflecting her own ethnic background and incorporating tiles and other artwork from her travels to the country. Valente, who formerly worked in custom publishing in Manhattan and left the city to pursue her dream of owning a B&B, is using the Queen Anne style-furniture from her parents’ Florida home, after they sold their house and moved up to Hyde Park to help her out. “They were bored with retirement,” she said. Valente is looking forward to cooking for her guests, given that “nobody is happier than people on vacation.” ●

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12, 2013 28 | Sept. Home Hudson Valley

Fall home improvement 2013 e sub