Home Hudson Valley MARCH 21, 2013
Spring Home Improvement
STYLE Hundreds of ideas to brighten your Hudson Valley home
Contents Welcome......................3 Energy efficiency..........4 Landscaping trends.....6 Revive a room...............8 Home finance................11
The collector.................12 Tile trends......................19 Creating space............20 Local antique style.....23 Architects’ best...........26
21, 2013 2 | March Home Hudson Valley
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March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley
hat you do with your home says a lot about you. Clean or cluttered, rustic or modern, high-brow or dorm-room, fragrant or au naturel, rent or own. You can leave your space as you found it or remake it to your own tastes. Not everyone wants to spend the time and money to do that. High-functioning slobs will tell you a clean desk is a sign of sick mind. Itâ€™s true that working on your home takes up time that could be spent learning Mandarin, practicing Rachmaninoff or hiking the Catskills. The cost of redoing a kitchen could also fund a trip to Europe. Are those who pay no attention to their environment the worse for it? Surely for some the answer is yes. Not everyone needs to keep a budget to save money. Not everyone needs a planner to keep track of meetings and projects at work. Not everyone feels better after a good haircut or a new set of clothes. But for many, this sort of thing makes life easier to manage. Itâ€™s a form of mindfulness, to borrow a spiritual concept. To be here now, to live with intention, is the antidote to the stressed out overstimulation of our time. Putting that into practice starts with our mind, body and relationships. The next circle is our environment. You can improve the place you live by making it more personal, usually by recreating a place youâ€™ve seen or experienced. Thatâ€™s why we devote a lot of space in each Home Hudson Valley to examples of what others have done; you never know where inspiration will strike. Other improvements could apply to anyone. There are those nagging repairs: our â€œhow-toâ€? articles and display advertisements from local professionals make these easy to tackle. Arranging furniture to open up a space and let it flow, making better use of closets and walls â€”
cal news for over 40 years. Today, chronicling the local feels more necessary than ever. In 1972, when the company began with Woodstock Times, the â€™60s hangover was setting in and the backto-the-land movement was in full swing. People who were less idealistic about changing the world rededicated themselves to changing their communities. This moment has something in common with that one. At that time, it was a choice to drop out. The economy, overall, was still expanding, as it had since the end of World War II, creating a period of sustained income growth across all classes weâ€™re unlikely to see again. Opting out of the expected path of seeking wealth and place was a political act. Today, thatâ€™s not a choice. The impulse is sustainability. With a dysfunctional national government and a volatile global economy capable of throwing us into recession and causing massive job loss, thereâ€™s an understandable desire to be self-sufficient, especially in a rural area. Local government is a mechanism for local people to effect change â€” a payoff thatâ€™s indirect or absent from our democracy in higher levels of government. A local economy allows motivated people to start their own businesses and work with one another on a personal basis, freeing them (as much as possible) from arbitrary layoffs common in the corporate world. Similarly, being mindful of oneâ€™s home, learning how itâ€™s put together, shaping it to reflect oneâ€™s personality and needs, can be empowering. The old saying â€œHome is where the heart isâ€? â€” it works both ways. â—?
these strategies can work anywhere. Some of the tips here could work in any region. But much of it is uniquely local. Good architecture
Giving attention to oneâ€™s home is a form of mindfulness is informed by the landâ€™s topography and local history. Interior design can be as well. Our article on decorating with local antiques shows how to use works by (and inspired by) the artists and craftsmen to make your home a true Hudson Valley home. Ulster Publishing has been covering hyperlo-
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Bang for your buck Five best energy-efficient improvements for return on investment Violet Snow Light bulbs Replacing conventional incandescent light bulbs with their energy-efficient successors is a simple way to save money. The dilemma is whether to choose LED (light-emitting diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent lighting). LEDs have the advantages of being more energy-efficient, less fragile and less toxic than CFLs, which contain mercury. On the other hand, until recently, LEDs were prohibitively expensive and not capable of providing the diffuse light required by most situations. But those problems are being solved. Prices are dropping for LEDs, and will continue to drop, with recent advances such as the use of silicon wafers instead of sapphire-based technology. Light diffusion has been accomplished with special lenses and reflectors. While an LED bulb is now around $35.95, compared to $3.95 for a CFL and $1.39 for an incandescent, the LEDs last five times as long as CFLs and use so much less electricity that the total cost for 50,000 hours of use is approximately the same, around $85 or $90. You would need to buy 42 incandescents for that amount of light, and with electricity costs you would pay $352, according to eartheasy.com. Insulating shades Insulating shades are designed to replace venetian blinds with a fabric made of bonded polyester, structured with cells that trap air. The shades prevent warm air from diffusing through windows in winter and keep outdoor heat from entering in summer, reducing both heating and air-conditioning costs. Metal tracks cost extra but effectively seal off the
Clockwise from top-left: an LED light, insulating shades, heating duct insulation, a tankless water-heater
borders of the shades to prevent leakage of heat around the edges. Some types filter light, reducing glare and blocking UV rays that fade fabrics, while admitting a soft light. The shades have cords so they can be opened and closed as desired. Water heater It’s estimated that the water heater is responsible for 15 to 25 percent of a home’s yearly energy use. A high-efficiency water heater can save a considerable amount of money. Some brands are simply better-
insulated and designed more effectively, keeping water hot for a longer period of time than traditional water heaters. Also available are models with heat exchangers that draw heat from the environment with a fan and use the extracted heat instead of electricity to heat up the water. Most come with an electric heating element so the homeowner can switch back and forth between modes in different seasons or when the more rapid effect of the electric system is desired for heavy usage. Another option is the tankless water heater, in which water circulated through a large coil is heated on demand, using either gas or electricity. This saves energy because there’s no need to keep a standby supply hot. It also saves space. In situations where hot water is needed for simultaneous uses, this version may not always keep up with the demand. Heating ducts It’s estimated that homes with forced-air heating lose 20 percent of the air through leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Plugging leaks also improves
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March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley air quality, keeping dust, mold and humidity from entering the living spaces of your house. If you have rooms that donâ€™t warm sufficiently in winter, or ducts that run through the garage, attic or crawlspace, you are probably losing heat through the joints where the ducts meet. To confirm heat loss, you can hire a professional to test your system by forcing air through it. However, simply examining exposed ducts may reveal signs of leakage such as cracks in old tape, open spaces, dust or lint collected around areas that are leaky. Mastic, a thick paste that comes in a tube, can be used to seal up around joints, collars and corners of the system. If your ducts are behind the walls, itâ€™s best to hire a professional to deal with the sealing process.
energy. Energy experts will come to your house, perform a visual inspection, and conduct tests for health, safety, and energy efficiency. NYSERDA offers free or low-cost energy assessments, depending on income, and discounts or grants for energy efficiency upgrades are available to those who qualify. See nyserda.ny.gov
for details. People who receive fuel payment assistance from HEAP are eligible for a free audit and free upgrades from Ulster County Community Actionâ€™s weatherization services. Remedies provided range from weatherstripping to refrigerator replacement. Visit uccac.org/programs/weatherization. â—?
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Clockwise from top-left: Permeable pavers, butterfly garden, no-mow lawn, heirloom vegetables
Fresh ideas for spring Sharyn Flanagan
t’s time to treat our winter-weary eyes to some lush greenery and colorful blooms, maybe even grow a vegetable or two, or at least pot some fresh herbs for the kitchen windowsill. For the more ambitious, there are a number of trends emerging in the landscaping world that are worth noting as the weather warms up. Permeable pavers Permeable pavers are engineered to assist the earth in its natural restoration process. The goal in using permeable pavers is to control stormwater at the source, reduce runoff and improve water quality by filtering pollutants in the substrata layers. The pavers allow water to infiltrate their surface, allowing natural drainage and migration of water into the
earth below. This not only reduces runoff, protecting your property, but traps suspended solids and filters pollutants from contaminating the environment. This is particularly important with residential sidewalks and driveways bordering lawns and roads. In addition, permeable pavers provide a drivable surface as good as their nonporous counterparts, and they look very attractive. Backyard butterfly gardens A butterfly habitat that supports local species and helps to increase biodiversity will also evoke a sense of wonderment in children and adults alike. The butterfly season is primarily June through August, but early species and hibernators may be observed from March to May and migrants mainly in May through June and again from September through October. Plant your butterfly garden in a sunny location
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sheltered from the wind: butterflies like to be warm, but won’t stay in an area where they have to fight the wind to stay on the plants. Incorporate a few flat stones in the garden as resting spots for them to bask in the sun. Provide water in a sunny location and mulch around the plants to preserve moisture and provide shelter for caterpillars. When considering varieties of plants, remember that butterflies like two different kinds: those that provide nectar for the adults to eat, and those that provide food for their offspring. As with every other type of garden, regionally adapted plants are the way to go. In this part of the country, sturdy and easy-togrow phlox will attract butterflies to areas of the garden in full sun. Other top nectar-producing flower choices include varieties of Clethra Alnifolia like the fragrant Costal Sweetpepper Bush or Ruby Spice, the Dense Blazing Star plant (Liatrus Spicata), common lilacs, common milkweed (also good as food for caterpillars), New England asters, grass-leaved goldenrod and forget-me-nots. Wild mint, wild basil and lavender bee balm will also attract many species of butterflies in this region. Top caterpillar-food plants include willow, elm and white oak trees, Queen Anne’s lace, red clover and wild lupine. And of course, it can’t be emphasized enough: pesticides have no place in a butterfly garden. Shaggy chic Much residential land is covered in grass. That’s not news to anyone who has a large lawn to care for. Some homeowners are taking their lawns out entirely and planting a low-maintenance natural meadow in its place: a shaggy-chic approach that thumbs its nose at the finely manicured and embraces the greener approach that uses less water, chemical fertilizer and
March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley energy resources. At Manhattan’s High Line park, landscape designers went on the record recently saying that grasses have become so popular a trend these days as to constitute “a fashion,” and that an “undone” meadow look contrasts nicely with the hard edges of modern architecture. (My mom was an early adherent to the no-lawn philosophy, taking out our entire lawn one summer when she tired of asking my brothers repeatedly to mow it and planting the most resilient, low-care plant she could think of in our southern California climate in its place, the ferociously quick-growing jade plant. Accented by copious amounts of bark — we did corner the market on bags of bark that year — we had the most unique, low-care lawn in the neighborhood, and one that was quite beautiful.) Establishing a meadow is usually a three-year process, and just like with a bad haircut adherents say you have to accept the growing-out stages before you achieve the ultimate meadow. (This might require letting your neighbors know what you’re doing, so they don’t think you’ve just let everything go.) To provide texture and a sense of movement during winter when nothing is flowering, At least half of meadow plantings should be grasses. Ask a local nursery for advice about what plants would work well in your yard. Starting with seeds is recommended, with an estimated ten to 20 pounds of wildflower and grass seed necessary per acre. It costs more initially to start a meadow lawn, but will pay for itself over time in decreased costs for maintenance and mowing, not to mention the value of all those hours freed up that were once reserved for lawn mowing. Once established, a meadow needs minimal maintenance. Heirloom seeds for vegetables and flowers An heirloom vegetable or flower is an old variety that is open-pollinated, meaning the plants are pollinated by the wind or insects. It also means you can save the seeds, and they’ll produce true-toseed the next year, unlike the hybrids. The definition of what constitutes an “old” variety varies. Some say an heirloom variety can refer to any that is at least 50 years old, while others apply the term only to any variety grown before World War II. Many heirloom varieties available are far older than that. The superior flavor of heirloom vegetables is one reason to grow them. Another advantage is that heirloom varieties produce seeds that can be passed along from gardener to gardener, keeping that variety viable (and sharing the love). For the best growing results, choose seeds that are already regionally adapted, such as those obtained through the Hudson Valley Seed Library (www.seedlibrary. org), offering over 200 varieties of heirloom seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers, many grown here in this region. And the seeds they sell are packaged in attractive “art packs,” each unique and designed by local artists, extending the regional identity for the seeds further. Some say that heirloom varieties of vegetables can be less resistant to pests, but home growers of heirloom tomatoes have had success eradicating
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common tomato diseases with natural methods like solarization, where the soil is kept wet and covered with clear plastic at the height of summer, creating enough heat to burn off pathogens in the soil. Again, planting regionally-adapted seeds to begin with would be a good starting point. Heirloom flowers are another way to enjoy the trend. People attracted to heirloom varieties tend to be appreciative of the legacy involved in the old varieties, knowing they provide a link with history. Sustainable gardens Sustainable gardening boils down to simply this: when you take away, give back. It’s a matter of using renewable resources. Choose plants that will thrive under existing conditions and improve soil quality by using organic matter from a compost heap. And
be a producer of something as well as a consumer: even a few pots of homegrown tomatoes and some herbs will yield a summer’s worth of pasta sauce, and you won’t have to get in the car to drive to the grocery store. The homesteading trend includes an emphasis on canning and freezing homegrown fruit and veggies, too, reducing dependence on others for basic needs. Include recycled materials in the landscape design, such as reclaimed wood or old stone. Even empty wine bottles can be put to creative use in the landscaping (try upending and embedding a row of them to border a garden plot, and light from the inside with fiber-optics for a colorful nighttime effect). Use local materials where possible, reducing the garden’s carbon footprint and keeping the local community thriving as well. ●
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Revive a room Local designers give budget ideas for bringing new life to any room Lynn Woods
pring is a time of new beginnings. Many of us are yearning for a new look—be it a new hair style, outfit, or living room. Regarding the latter, a simple arrangement of furniture or fresh coat of paint could do the trick, and cost less than a haircut. But how can you ensure the change will really be an improvement? What are some truly effective ways to revive a living room, kitchen, or whole house without spending a ton of money? The first step is to know thyself: it’s essential that the redesign reflects your own sense of style, rather than looking perfect. “Design is subjective. You need to identify your needs and find out what’s making you not happy about a room,” said Maria Mendoza, an interior designer and proprietor of home furnishings store Marigold Home, located on Route 28 next to Hickory Barbecue. “If everything’s matchy matchy, it’s boring and dead,” added Allan Skriloff, an interior designer based in Mount Tremper and New York City. Forget match-
ing a pillow or wall color to the teal blue of the lake depicted in a painting on your wall; instead, try to create a mixture of textures and colors. “The more individual and different the design, the more it’s to your taste,” he said. “You don’t want things to look done.” That said, there are some basic tricks of the trade that can go a long way toward successfully remaking a room at little cost and effort. Here’s some tips from the experts. Make changes keyed to the seasons In the old days, people replaced their heavy drapes and carpets with something lighter and brighter in the summer, said Skriloff. Perking up a sofa with a bright , colorful pillow in a lighter fabric or throwing a patterned throw rug over a beige carpet can bring a bit of spring into our rooms. Mix fabrics and textures—for example, a pale silk pillow looks great on a chenille sofa, a combination Mendoza showcases in her store. “If you have a sofa in a flat fabric and some leather chairs, you might want to bring in a nubby fabric for more texture,” said Skriloff. “If you have all hard or soft surfaces, it’s boring. What makes thing look good is representing the whole spectrum of textures.” Nothing freshens up a room like a new area rug, even if it’s a relatively modest size, she noted. Skriloff said one economical way of livening up your floor is to obtain a carpet remnant and have it bound.
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Carpet Barn in Kingston, for example, charges $1 a linear foot to bind a remnant, making it possible to obtain a substantial sized new rug for under $300. Or you might want to remove your rugs for the warm season and simply expose a handsome hardwood floor, suggested Mendoza. Be inventive with found materials Sheets and bedspreads make great curtains, as Skriloff demonstrated by using a bedspread as a sumptuous swag in his pied-a-terre Manhattan apartment. 1 Mendoza uses urns, jugs, jars, and even candle holders as flower vases. One of the most beautiful displays in her shop is an arrangement of cattails, grasses, and other botanicals she collected in the area, dried, and stuck in a piece of foam within a long wooden window box, painted white, she built herself. She said anyone with an eye can create their own stunning arrangements, such as wrapping dried flowers or grasses in thin, tissue-like craft paper tied with twine. Such arrangements make wonderful living room arrangements for the living room or centerpieces for the dinner table, she said. “It may look expensive, but it costs nothing.” Windows Adding or changing a window covering is an inexpensive way to transform a room, whether you hang
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March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley sheer curtains or shades in a lightweight material. Fabric panels are an effective way to soften and frame a window. â€œWhen you change the window treatment immediately the home changes. Itâ€™s like the eyelashes of a home,â€? said Mendoza. Consider changing the arrangement of furniture to reflect the difference in the seasons. For example, while in the winter youâ€™d want the sofa facing the fireplace, in the summer you might want to turn it toward the window to face the view, said Skriloff. Paint the walls Paint is the cheapest way to freshen a room. It also involves the least amount of pain: if you screw up, all you have to do is repaint. Choosing the right color, however, can be a challenge. Forget basing your decision on a tiny paint chip. Instead, invest in a $3 sample pot some paint suppliers now offer â€” if not, buy a half quart for $6 â€” and cover a two-foot square patch on the wall, observing it over a 24-hour cycle, during which time the light will change dramatically. Interior designer Gabrielle Raven, based in Woodstock, advises using a warm shade of because the light at this latitude is blue or gray. â€œPsychologically, people react better to warm light, and it glows, especially at night,â€? she said. (However, in a northern facing room, especially a bedroom, she might choose a cool blue, which reinforces the tonality of the light.) Raven said people often err by going too light. â€œYou never want to be in that top tier, unless youâ€™re choosing white,â€? she said. â€œIt looks insipid, because itâ€™s a tint, not a color. You want to move toward the middle. While a chip might look too dark, on the wall it may not be dark at all, since color is the reflection of light.â€? Another mistake is going too bright, said Skriloff. Landscaping Lawn installation Ponds Retaining walls Stone work ...and much more
â€œA rule of thumb is to choose a grayed-out color,â€? which is easier on the eyes, he said. He also recommended painting an accent wall, instead of an entire room. Go wild and break all the rooms in rooms that seldom get used, such as the guest powder room. â€œPaint it in a bright color and put mirrors all over the wall,â€? he suggested. â€œOr use wallpaper. Donâ€™t be afraid to have fun. People will go in and say, â€˜wow.â€™â€? Generally itâ€™s a good idea to stick with a color scheme of no more than three colors. Less can be boring, while more risks creating chaos, Skriloff said. Combinations based on colors that are complementary, or based on opposite sides of the color wheel, work well, such as blue and orange or red and green. Another strategy is using colors that are contiguous to each other, such as green and yellow. One color in different shades can also be stunning, perhaps with a bright accent or two. Designers noted that there have been some beautiful rooms designed entirely in white, although these tend to be in southern climes. Your choice of color should fit with the style of the house. Neutral earth colors can look gorgeous is an older, historic home, but might be drab in a
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3 2 contemporary setting, which generally need more pigment, said Raven. Change the lighting Dimmers are an inexpensive and effective way to enhance a roomâ€™s ambience.. They cost $25 each for a wall (floor and tabletop dimmers are also available). One way to create drama, if you have recessed lighting, is to install a high intensity pin-spot, which is a very small bulb that focuses light on a single spot, such as a tabletop arrangement of flowers. Skriloff recommends installing Edison bulbs, whose amber wires are exposed, which can become a design element in itself. A colleague took a cheap, $5 ceiling figure, sprayed it black, and replaced the three bulbs and glass covers with Edison light bulbs, which cast a warm light reminiscent of gaslight.
Make a dramatic statement A large item with an interesting texture or shape, such as an oversized, sculptural lamp or glass or iron candle holder, gives the room a focal point (3). Grouping similar objects that vary in scale, such as glass vases, picture frames on a wall, pillows, or even similarly colored books, stacked attractively on a shelf or piled on a table, is much more effective than scattering them around the room. â€œExaggerate things, to make a big drama,â€? says Mendoza. An antique iron grille looks great against a white wall, as do such one-of-a-kind objects as old clocks and dishes. Redo kitchen cabinets Either repaint cabinets or consider covering them in metal. Skriloff covered the cabinets in his Catskills log cabin in galvanized steel. He brought them to
Perk up the bedroom Skriloff transformed his city apartment bedroom into an elegant, calm oasis in beige by adding different textures and keeping it simple. He constructed the platform and headboard out of 2 x 4 plywood, which he covered in batting and ultra suede fabric, stapled in the back. It matches the low-pile carpet. The ceiling was covered in beige wallpaper, which has a subtle pattern. A gorgeous piece of 14-foot-
high paneling, removed from a city mansion in the 1960s, is positioned on the wall behind the bed. The overhead light fixture was dirt cheap but resembles a sterling example of mid-century modern: Skriloff constructed it from an agitator from an old-fashioned washing machine he found at a flea market, turning the part upside down and wiring it. The room looks like a thousand bucksâ€”much more than that, actuallyâ€”but by being resourceful and constructing some of the elements himself, Skriloff saved a bundle. 2
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a metal fabricator, who attached the rusted steel panels, which have the texture of suede. For a New York client, Skriloff had the cabinets covered in bronze. In combination with the tree slab used on the kitchenâ€™s island, the cabinets suggested a rugged, industrial look. (4) Speaking of kitchens, Skriloff suggested covering the fridge and other appliances with wood paneling, which he said doesnâ€™t have to be complicated (he did it himself for his fridge). He noted that many clients hid their dishwashers, for example, behind paneling. (A general tip: â€œDo not do whatâ€™s in. Instead, stick to clean basics.â€?) Get rid of clutter Without quite knowing why, you may dread going into your office, living room, or bedroom. The reason is probably simple: too much clutter. In general, â€œpeople put too much stuff in a room,â€? said Skriloff. â€œThey overdo things. The less you have, the bigger the room looks.â€? His advice: be ruthless. â€œPeople get so attached to things, but after itâ€™s gone, you wonâ€™t remember you had it.â€? Quick closet pick-up Buy matching hangers. Replacing the jumble of metal, plastic, and various colored hangers in your closet with one kind of hanger â€œmakes a world of difference,â€? said Skriloff. He recently bought two packs of chartreuse hangers, 25 in a pack, for $13 eachâ€”an inexpensive way to create clarity in your closet and feel more relaxed every time you get dressed. â—?
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March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley
Financing the American Dream board for jumbo loans for primary and second homes – loans that, in most parts of the country, exceed $417,000. Hollensteiner said those buyers are attracted by rates that are only slightly higher than non-jumbo rates, while some of them are using short term adjustable rate mortgages to save interest during the term. Like TD Bank, Ulster Savings doesn’t keep all of its mortgages in its portfolio. Brian Matthews, vice
There’s been an unmistakable upturn in the real-estate market, and wobbly steps toward an economic recovery overall.
How long is the low-interest, low-price party going to last? Susan Barnett
hen the housing bubble burst, the free-flowing money used to finance a home shut down to a trickle. After a few wild years where many companies encouraged buyers to stretch their definition of how much house they could afford, prospective home buyers now found an entirely new and somewhat desolate landscape. No more five percent down. No more loans with no income verification (known in the business as “liar loans”), no more creative financing that deferred painful reality until some rosy future, when a huge balloon payment would surely be affordable. There’s been an unmistakable upturn in the realestate market, and wobbly steps toward an economic recovery overall. So does that mean it’s getting easier to get a mortgage when you’re ready to buy? “I wouldn’t say the lending industry is loosening,” said Malcom Hollensteiner, director of retail lending sales and products at TD Bank. “Credit requirements haven’t loosened and lenders are required to be sure the borrower can afford what they’re buying. But we are starting to again offer products that were thrown out in an attempt to clear everything up quickly. There are simply more programs – but no signs of the craziness of no-documentation loans.” Hollensteiner said the bulk of TD Bank’s mortgages are standard conforming loan programs – not FHA or jumbo loans – programs designed for the opposite extremes of the financing spectrum. “Lenders are exercising good common sense,” he continued. “There’s been an improvement in real estate in the past six months, and consumers are starting to see that they can afford to buy. There is a gradual realization that they can get a mortgage.” Mortgage rates are at historic lows, one factor credited for the real estate turn around. Combine fixed rates at around 3.5 percent and 15-year and adjustable rates at 3 percent or less with prices that are still far lower than they were ten years ago and you’ve got a classic buyers’ market. The banks are responding with programs to encourage first time buyers to take the leap.
Wells Fargo, one of the largest lenders in the nation, has two programs aimed at low- to moderate-income buyers. The Community Development Mortgage Program requires a minimum 2 percent down and requires no private mortgage insurance – a hefty monthly addition to mortgages required by the FHA. The Neighborhood Community Development Mortgage Program, also from Wells Fargo, calls for a minimum 5 percent down with no income restrictions and a two-month reserve to cover taxes, mortgage and insurance. TD Bank has its own easier to remember version of these programs, something they’re calling Right Steps. “Mortgage insurance premiums are going up,” Hollensteiner noted, “so we’re designing a product that offers first time buyers an option to FHA.” Right Steps requires a cash investment of 3 percent of the purchase price by the borrower at an interest rate that is about an eighth of a percent less that other 30-year fixed rate mortgages. It does requirement private mortgage insurance but, unlike the FHA, requires no upfront premium. At the other end of the buying spectrum, TD Bank is also seeing increasing demand across the
president and director of residential lending, says that helps keep rates low. “No bank could offer the rates we’re seeing today without the secondary market to help fund lending. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA account for about 90 percent of the sales of our mortgages. What’s critical is who is servicing your loan after the closing – who takes care of the escrow, who do you call if you have a question. For the majority of our loans, we originate and service them, even if we sell them on the secondary market. We keep that relationship with our customers.” Matthews said Ulster Savings is seeing an uptick in activity for jumbo loans at its mortgage lending offices in Westchester and Suffolk counties. “There’s no secondary market for those, so we’re keeping most of them in our portfolio.” He says there’s little activity on the big loans locally. Ulster Savings Bank also offers a program for firsttime homebuyers that, if a they’re willing to take their time, take classes and demonstrate their own willingness to save, can result in a Federal Home Loan Bank grant that quadruples the size of their down payment. It’s done in cooperation with SONYMA, the Federal Home Loan Bank and both Rupco and Hudson River Housing. How long is the low-interest, low-price party going to last? No one can say. But TD Bank’s Hollensteiner said the end was inevitable. “It doesn’t take a PhD to know that,” he said. “The question is when. We expect the interest rate trend to go higher over this year even if the Federal Reserve continues to keep rates low over the next twelve to 24 months. And if the Federal Reserve stops buying mortgage backed securities, we expect to see rates going up more quickly.” ●
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21, 2013 12 | March Home Hudson Valley
A little of everything Collector Tom Pfeffer is the owner of Kingston’s Jacob Ten Broeck House Jennifer Farley
f real-estate investor Tom Pfeffer had been born in England a century ago instead of in Illinois in the late 1950s, he might have been termed “a celebrated gentleman naturalist and collector of historical artifacts.” Adhering tightly to the buy-low-and-hold
mantra that characterizes his property acquisitions, Pfeffer aggressively combs yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores and low-rent antique shops for period treasures, animal skulls, and cultural curiosities such as prison shanks. Pfeffer owns the Jacob Ten Broeck House at 169 Albany Avenue in Kingston. Built in 1803 and perhaps Kingston’s finest surviving Federal residence, the house is a two-story limestone structure with a metal-clad gabled roof. Its owner dresses more like a handyman than an aristocratic character on Downton Abbey. An active member of Friends of Historic Kingston and the
Kingston Arts Council, Pfeffer, a divorced father of three adult children, is the long-time partner of a well-known Hudson Valley environmental educator. He keeps bees and likes to hike. He used to raise sheep and chickens in the home’s vast backyard, which features a scenic pond. Pfeffer also owns an apartment building in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section and a former Kingston firehouse his son is renovating. He bought 169 Albany 20 years ago directly from the bank in a foreclosure sale. He got the six-bedroom, five-bath home listed on the National Register of Historic Places and began a long process of stabilizing, improving and decorating it. “My creative ideas are restricted to the things I put in the house, since I have a responsibility to maintain it, not change it,” said Pfeffer, whose college major was art. “I enjoy collecting and displaying things that would have been found in every old American homestead, such as hetchels or flax combs, yellow-ware bowls; wood-handled knives and rustic choppers.” Because he enjoys noting small differences in manufacture. Pfeffer collects multiple variations of single-purpose objects. Given the size of his collections, grouping these like items together creates a sense of aesthetic unity. Neatly massed, they look more like three-dimensional patterns than isolated, independent objects. Pfeffer said that he wants people who visit his Albany Avenue home to have a visual experience. “A close friend once remarked that this is ‘a house of awe and wonder,’” noted Pfeffer. Artists and people who enjoy natural history always find things to admire in his collections. “Throughout the house there are turtle shells, which I find incredibly beautiful,” he said. A huge rhinoceros skull he found at an antique store in Alaska is one of the most unusual items in Pfeffer’s Kingston house. He regularly canvasses Hudson Valley flea markets and peruses the area antiques shops. He tries to stop at every yard sale he drives past. It’s been his experience that the best items for the least amount of money are found in the most unassuming places, he said, and that’s part of what
March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley
photos by will dendis
he enjoys about collecting period Hudson Valley household artifacts. Natural-history relics are also typically found either wildly far afield of their place of origin, or they are found objects like insect and bird nests. “I don’t like to beat someone down too much on the price, but yes, it’s an accepted part of the purchasing process.” he explained. “You make the seller a cash offer, and they either take it or leave it.” After Pfeffer’s divorce a decade ago, he began renting out rooms in the historic home to people
primarily employed by not-for-profit environmental agencies. This allowed him financially to justify keeping a large house of which he had always been fond while also supporting the community. His present goal is to find a way to make the house and grounds self-supporting. He’s looking ar the possibility of turning the downstairs into an antiques store. As much fun as he’s had collecting everything, for the right price, there isn’t much he would hesitate to sell. But Pfeffer’s still buying stuff, too. “I quit buying clothes,” he said. “My attic looks like a flea market.
My kids now borrow the flannel plaid shirts and other classic garments I bought in the 1970s. I’m proud to note that everything still fits. But I’m still in the market for certain types of undervalued antiques, stuff few other people seem to want, like old film cameras.” Pfeffer looks at buying to collect as an investment. “Eventually I’ll sell everything,” he said. “There’s a part of me that would love to live in an ultra-modern house with nothing in it, but without all my treasures this place would feel like just another big, old, empty house.” ●
21, 2013 14 | March Home Hudson Valley From the Home Hudson Valley archives
Brieﬂy noted Declutter your home To make room for the new, one has to get rid of the old. While few denizens of the Hudson Valley have amassed enough junk to qualify as hoarders, most of us could stand to shed some stuff.
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According to professional organizer Rosalyn Cherry of New Paltz, it’s not just a matter of keeping things clean. Clutter is bad for the spirit. “It’s sort of like a cleansing,” said Cherry. “And when you go out after you’re decluttered, you feel different and you look at the world differently and you open up to things differently. [If you wake up in the morning and think] ‘Oh, what a slob I am, I’m such an idiot’ and then you go out, where are you starting from that day? Versus when everything’s neat, you know where it is, you’ve got just what you need. That’s just a different way to start the day.” Here are some of Cherry’s tips for eliminating excess stuff: • Do an inventory. Look at your possessions. For each, ask yourself: does this add to my life? Does it reflect who I am? “If you get rid of all the stuff
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you never use…then you will know what to do with what’s left,” she said. • Frame it in the positive. Instead of looking at it as a loss, donate it to a local charitable organization like the Salvation Army, Family of Woodstock, or Twice Blessed Thrift Shop in New Paltz. This is especially helpful for the sentimental. • Group like items. If you have a number of perfectly good (but redundant items) or a number of items you’re saving because they remind you of a person, consider paring your collection down. • Zero-sum game. To stay clutter-free, a person has to adopt a zero-sum approach to purchases. If there’s no room for something new, make room by getting rid of something old. If bills and other important papers cover multiple surfaces in the home, create a filing system with labels and stick to it. The everyday tool kit Start with the basics — screwdriver set, hammer, pliers, flashlight, cordless drill (if you don’t this is the place to start). Here’s what to get to go to the next level: 1. Multimeter: Use to determine if a wire is live and, if so, how live. Indispensible for diagnosing
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March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley automotive, appliance or home electric issues. A good multimeter can be had for under $20. 2. Soldering Iron: Best used to fix problems with a device that just quits one day—coffee-maker, toaster, guitar, headphones wire — that just has a loose wire or a dirty connection. 3. Wire-strippers: Sticking with the electrical theme, this tool completes the trifecta. Try as you might there’s nothing else that efficiently and evenly strips an insulated wire. 4. Durable tape measure: The utility of a tapemeasure is obvious. You need it for everything from picking out furniture to building a bookshelf. Get a good one at least 20-foot-long with enough backbone to stand up without buckling when extended 10-feet. 5. Level: Another cheap and essential tool whose uses run the gamut from new construction (building furniture or pitching a drain pipe) to little changes
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Prepare for winter One increasingly popular method is to install lowvoltage electric cables near the edge of the roof. “You will find them on many newer roofs, certainly the ones we build, but those cables can be retrofitted to any roof, and now they’re made so well that they only turn on when the temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit,” said veteran roofer Ian Horowitz of J&A Roofing in Kingston. Insulation is another key preventive measure, particularly with older homes. “Insulating your attic will certainly help in two ways,” said Bob Colucci of
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Pick the right contractor â€˘ Select contractors based on recommendations of friends and family â€˘ Get precise written estimates and a list of local references â€˘ Check with your local building department about required permits â€˘ Be wary of huge, too good to be true, discounts â€˘ Do not fall for high pressure sales which force you into an immediate decision â€˘ Be suspicious of door-to-door solicitations â€˘ Do not agree to a discount in exchange for allowing the contractor to use your home as a model or sample for your neighborhood Dishonest contractors may demand a large down payment but then disappear with the homeownerâ€™s money, leaving the work unfinished. Contractors also may use cheap or shoddy material that soon must be replaced. Swindlers also may inflate the amount of damage to a home. Another ruse involves causing more damage to a home, such as enlarging the hole in a roof. Homeowners can protect against crooked contractors by following seven common-sense steps: â€˘ Avoid contractors who show up at your doorstep â€˘ Consult with your insurer before making repairs â€˘ Pay by check or credit, and donâ€™t pay cash â€˘ Pay no more than 20 percent upfront â€˘ Ensure the contractor is licensed â€˘ Have a signed contract before work begins.
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Hip to be square Add bold color and a strong visual element with contemporary tile choices Sharyn Flanagan
he most effective way to make a bold visual statement in your kitchen or bath is through the use of tile. In the same way that fabrics add that splash of color and texture to living rooms and bedrooms, a creative use of tile will bring kitchen and bath to life, reflecting light and adding depth and texture. There’s never been a better time to experiment with tile than now, when manufacturers are offering so many creative options that look great and are both easy care and affordable; most range from $3 to $15 per square foot, with many in the $5 range. Glass tile Glass tiles are the ones that will elicit the “oooh” reaction when people see your bath or kitchen. Use them for backsplashes, shower walls or to provide a striking visual focal point. Glass tiles pick up the light in the room and add depth and luminescence not found in ceramic or natural stone. Available in a wide range of colors, textures and finishes, from glossy to matte and translucent to iridescent, glass tiles make a statement. The most contemporary look is achieved with glass tiles in horizontal interlocking rectangular shapes rather than squares. To play up the material’s lustrous qualities, insert a few matte-finish tiles into a design of iridescent or translucent glass; the contrast in textures will make each stand out more. For a kitchen backsplash, try using glass tiles in a range of warm earth tones to complement a cozy family space. Luminous blue glass tiles, suggestive of water, are perfect in the bathroom. Glass tiles of recycled materials are good for those interested in earth-friendly solutions. Easy to clean and care for, glass tiles can be slippery when wet, so are best not used for flooring. On the walls, however, they’ll give a high-end finish and reflect not only the light in the room but your sophisticated sensibility. Metal tile In a kitchen backsplash, stainless-steel rectangular metal tile laid out like bricks coordinates beautifully with stainless-steel appliances for a contemporary look. For a sleek finish, grout stainless-steel wall tiles with gray-colored grout. For a more traditional-style backsplash, try using tin tiles. While they’re usually used on ceilings to evoke an earlier time, tin tiles can go from rustic to rather elegant as a backsplash depending on what the rest of the kitchen looks like. They also play well with stainless-steel appliances. Tin tiles can be painted, but in their natural chrome finish they reflect the light in a room, making it look larger. Their embossed design can look suitably vintage in more traditional surroundings, and yet their shiny metal finish can fit right in a contemporary kitchen, adding texture to harder-edged modern lines. For the bathroom, try rectangular-shaped bronze or copper metal tile to add visual warmth to a sleek modern bathroom. Faux wood tile A lot of bathroom remodels are aiming to recreate the spa experience: zen-like spaces with clean, modern lines that use natural materials. A hardwood floor would fit that aesthetic, but wood and water don’t mix. An alternative is moistureresistant faux-wood tile that looks like the real thing. The tiles are made of ceramic or porcelain, and come in a variety of colors and grains to simulate just about every type of wood out there from ash to walnut. Available in two-, three- and four-inch planks, they can be arranged in traditional hardwood flooring patterns. Using similarly-colored grout will make it look more natural, and it’s easy to clean and sanitize.
Clockwise from top-left: glass, metal, faux-wood and patterned
Patterned tile In an ode to the 1960s, patterned ceramic and glass tiles are taking off with those who want to add fun to bathroom decor. In eclectic and unexpected color palettes, these new patterned additions to the market come in designs ranging from the mod to the downright psychedelic, and then back to an argyle design for a softer look. If they’re too mesmerizing in large force, try using a small quantity of them inlaid into a more sedate backdrop, or maybe applied around a window to
create a picture-frame effect. Use it all For those who just can’t make up their minds, there are tiles that integrate mixed materials within one tile, with a medley of metal, glass and natural stone all in one square. The variation of color and texture in these mixed-media tiles and the contrast of cool metal with warm stone will work in nearly any environment, providing a blend of warmth and sophistication. ●
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Space must ﬂow Ideas for making the most of what you have Lynn Woods
ood design transforms even uninspired architecture, converting dark, claustrophobic rooms into an open plan where space flows harmoniously, for example. It can reinvigorate a dead space, such as a front door entrance never used, or take an oversized room that fills empty and make it cozy and functional.
Opening up Gabrielle Raven, a Woodstock-based interior decorator and designer, just completed a renovation of a 1970s, split-level house that was beset with challenges. The rooms were chopped up, small, and drab. The client wanted the house to feel less like the product of a cookie-cutter development and more like a classic Woodstock getaway. Because the budget was tight, Raven stuck to the existing footprint, leaving all the existing electrical and plumbing lines in place. The dining room was cut off from the kitchen, but rather than remove an entire wall, which was structural and contained electrical wires, she made a large pass-through, “It’s the difference between $5,000 and $1,200,” she
said. That created an open flow of space. To increase the light and further open the house to the view of woods in the back, she removed the old slider door and skinny side windows in the dining room and
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replaced them with the largest slider she could find. The pass-through and larger door makes it much easier to get food out onto the deck, which she also expanded. The new eight-foot-slider was a bargain: Raven picked up a flawed door from the Door Jamb in Shokan, which cost a third less than the $3,000 price tag of a new door. The flaws consisted of some chips in the finish, which were easily fixed, she said. “When the budget is tight I go to the Door Jamb and find great bargains,” she said. Raven painted the dining area a sage green, including the far wall with the fireplace, which was constructed of dark, dated red brick. She highlighted the mantel in pale mauve, a warm complement, and made the fireplace an attractive focal point by facing
March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley
A Woodstock home was transformed through creative use of existing space
photos by will dendis
the hearth with bluestone tiles. The tiles of native stone not only lend a subdued, natural look, but also didn’t cost much--$5 a square foot. “A big piece of bluestone is expensive, but if you use veneer it’s very reasonable,” said Raven. In the kitchen she kept the footprint of the old cabinets but changed the configuration of appliances, placing the fridge, oven, and sink in a functional triangle closer to the dining table. It had been on the far side of the room, with the cook’s back to the dining table. “Everything had been in the wrong place,” she said. She also added an island on wheels, which
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can be moved for parties, and a pantry with a double door on the back wall, creating lots of inexpensive storage space. An office off the other end of the kitchen became a small den. The den leads into the living room, an 18’ x 30’ rectangle with a large window on one wall facing west; not an ideal configuration. Raven put in recessed lighting—“general lighting is best for a long narrow room facing west”—and spruced up the wood floor by rubbing it with steel wool and adding a layer of urethane wax, a touch up that costs a fraction of having it refinished.
She arranged the furniture by creating three focal points—a couch with two chairs and coffee table, a reading nook with two wing chairs, and an artwork and plant. This causes the eye to move around the room in a S pattern, breaking up the shoebox space and creating interest. Placing the furniture in separate groupings, much like in a hotel lobby, is “more friendly to human scale,” she said. The color scheme is blue and beige-yellow, which complement each other. The blue is a strong hue and the yellow is neutral. She replaced the drab peachy pink walls with a warm, yellow-toned beige, which instantly brightened the space. She reupholstered the clients’ couch in a floral pattern and purchased the oval coffee table from Ethan Allen. The oval shape of the coffee table further breaks up the boxiness, as does the oval side table in the reading nook. Raven also put a plant on top of the tall bookshelf to create a sense of height and further move the eye around. Upstairs, she transformed four bedrooms into three, including a master suite with a view of the woods. She took out a wall between a tiny bedroom and the master bedroom and removed a small closet, using the extra space to expand the master bathroom (though she didn’t move the plumbing) and adding
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21, 2013 22 | March Home Hudson Valley ochre on the walls. He built a wall-length headboard and platform bed covered in rush carpeting
‘It’s vision, not bucks, that truly makes the difference’ for texture, which includes two shelves for lighting and other items. The more intimate space brings the fireplace, which is on one wall and balanced by a loveseat on the opposite side, into better focus, while taking full advantage of the view. Adding a freestanding wall is a cost-efficient way to change a space, Skriloff said, noting that the cost for the closets, including adjustable shelving, and new headboard and bed in the Chichester house bedroom was about $2,000. Taking down walls is also an option, particularly in opening up the kitchen, which better suits today’s more casual life style. That’s what he did in a redesign of a prewar, Upper West Side condo. Because the kitchen is now visible from the living room — the effect is of a Soho loft — Skriloff also made it all white and sleek, hiding the microwave and toaster ovens and other clutter in floor-toceiling closets. A row of stools are lined up along a counter, which backs onto the living room, and faces a wall, free of cabinetry, that is used to exhibit artwork, including a large photograph reworked and enlarged by the owner, which hangs over the stove. Even though it is mainly hidden, the storage space has been increased five-fold, he said.
Bedroom redesign by Allan Skriloff
a walk-in closet. She replaced a small window on one wall with two large ones, which look out on the woods. She painted the room, which faces north, a calming blue. “It’s a deep tone, which is extremely restful,” she said, noting that “sometimes it’s nice to embrace the cool light” of our clime; a warm color in a north-facing room could look muddy. Creating comfort For a client in Chichester, Allan Skriloff, who divides his time between Mount Tremper and New York (he was winner of website Houzz’s 2013 “best of remodeling” customer satisfaction award), faced the opposite challenge: making an enormous bedroom feel comfortable. Skriloff erected a freestanding wall to partition the space. He placed the bed against the wall, so that it now faces the double glass doors revealing the gorgeous mountain view. Behind the wall he installed two closets, which open out onto a private dressing area, with access to the bathroom. By breaking up the space into a separate dressing/ bathing area and bedroom, Skriloff created more privacy: one person can shower and dress without disturbing his or her sleeping partner. He also made the bedroom proper much more inviting. He painted
Making an entrance One common waste of space is an unused front door. For a client in Boiceville, Skriloff moved the front door to the side of the house, adjacent to the parking area. He transformed the rear sunroom, which had been a den, into the kitchen, and put the new Looking through the living room gives this space the feeling of a loft front door where the kitchen the new freestanding wall a warm, adobe red, which had been. The office is now located in the former tonally harmonizes with the existing grayed-out dinette. The entranceway now leads directly to the stairs, with the living and dining rooms on the left side of the new hall and the kitchen and office on the right, making the space work more efficiently. In his redesign of a 1960s ranch, the three-car garage became the living room, and the former livBuilding Quality Pools & Weekly ing room is now the entrance. “We took the front Hot Tubs at affordable Maintenance Service window out and put in a door,” he said, noting the prices for over 35 years Complete Pool Supplies placement of two wing chairs creates a welcoming entranceway. The previous entrance foyer is now a Liners & Accessories small office. Free Water Lab Analysis No matter the size or layout of your abode, the Now Scheduling sky’s the limit, provided you approach the space with imagination, awareness of its true functionality, and Pool Openings an open mind. If money is tight, remember that it’s Salt Water Systems for New and Existing Pools • Crystal Clear Water with No Packaged Chlorine vision, not bucks, that truly makes the difference. ●
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March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley
A sense of where you are Decorating with objects from our region’s past lends authenticity to your home Violet Snow “That’s a New York State leg,” says Tom Luciano, proprietor of Time and Materials, one of Hudson’s many antique shops. We’re sitting in a cafe in Phoenicia, and he’s pointing across the room at a cobbled table, with shiny, apparently recent screws attaching 19th-century legs to a top that was probably made from an old barn door. In cafes, antique shops, yard sales, and attics alike, Hudson Valley furniture embodies the area’s history, from the colonial Dutch period to the heyday of the Catskills hotels. With the housing market beginning to turn around, furniture prices are still low but about to climb, says Luciano, so it’s a good time to buy. And every piece contains a history lesson. “This ‘pear’ turning relates to 17th- and 18thcentury Dutch woodwork, often repeated in New York legs.” He indicates the smooth, ovoid shape, with narrow rings and rectangular blocks above and below, characteristic of New York craftsmanship. Each state had its own characteristic design. In New Hampshire, the entire leg was often carved, ending with a taper. Next to the table is a bentwood chair with ArtNouveau lines, a style common in Catskills hotels. Its frame has been painted a streaky orange, and the seat has been recovered in red. “Made in 1910 or 1920, either by Thonet or J. & J. Kohn, Austrian furniture makers,” says Luciano. “Probably bought at a yard sale. With a bit of resurfacing, this would be a beautiful piece.” The Catskills still have plenty of memorabilia from the peak of the hotel era from 1850 to1950. Iron bedsteads, arts-and-crafts bungalow furniture, metal lawn chairs, and period fabrics have a nostalgic kick for baby boomers who visited the resorts in the 1960s, when the old furnishings were still in place. Crafts from Woodstock Overlapping with the hotel period, the Byrdcliffe arts colony begun in 1902, produced handcrafted furniture, pottery, textiles, prints, photography, and
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paintings, while establishing Woodstock’s identity as a haven for free-spirited creative people. Founded as a utopian community in reaction to the dehumanizing effects of industrialization, Byrdcliffe continues to serve artists. The products of its first half-century still filter through the region, often ending up in the hands of Jim Cox at James Cox Gallery in Willow, a few miles west of the Woodstock hamlet. Cox holds up a turquoise pot made by Byrdcliffe artist Zulma Steele. “She called her line ‘Zedware’ and signed each piece with a ‘Z’.” He turns over the pot to show the letter etched in the bottom. Like Steele, sculptor and ceramist Carl Walters experimented with metallic faience glazes, seeking the deep turquoise shade developed by the Egyptians. Cox pulls out a Walters plate with a figure in black
against a turquoise background. Barely lighter than the black, it glows with an otherworldly splendor. Walters fired ceramics and glass in a kiln at the Maverick Colony, a Byrdcliffe offshoot that was also fertile ground for artists, some of whom gathered around sculptress Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. A former student of Rodin, she used her wealth to support many young artists who were ignored by the arts establishment but later became well-known. In 1930-31, when Whitney’s studio club on West 8th Street in Manhattan became the first Whitney Museum of American Art, Walters was commissioned to create panes for the glass entrance doors. Cox has two of the many prototypes Walters produced, with raised reliefs of animals and circus scenes. “People bring me things,” says Cox, accounting for
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21, 2013 24 | March Home Hudson Valley
Top row: Catskill Plate, historic basket; second row: two examples of andirons, figurine by Woodstock artist Eugenie Gershoy
the breadth of his collection, which contains many art-colony artifacts, including handprinted posters, playbills, and literary magazines produced by the Maverick Press. Like other antiques dealers, he is often asked to examine works of art to determine “what something is, who made it, and what it’s worth.” He opens a November 1918 copy of “The Plowshare,” featuring poetry and exquisite prints from woodcuts and linocuts. “These items are all highly collectible,” Cox says. His Woodstock Library Fair posters document a continuing tradition that goes back 80 years. Artistic inheritance Stepping back to the previous century, we find paintings by a number of Hudson Valley artists whose work expresses the passion for landscape that brought visitors to the Catskills in the 1800s. While paintings by the major Hudson River School artists — Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Asher Durand — are rarely available, many painters born and bred in the area created beautiful pieces with local appeal. Sanford Levy, proprietor of Jenkinstown Antiques
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in Gardiner, deals in works by such artists as landscape painter Joseph Tubby, a Rondout resident, and Kingston-born artist Julia Dillon, who specialized in meticulous floral paintings. Dillon studied art in New York and Paris before returning to her hometown, where she helped establish Kingston Hospital and Kingston Library. Levy, who lives an 18th-century stone house, is an expert in furnishings and housewares from the 1800s and the colonial period. Like other antiques dealers, he knows the history behind many of the items that pass through his hands. Regarding stoneware, made from local clay and thrown on a pottery wheel, he relates, “In the late 18th century, a plague killed a lot of people in New York City. Potters living in Manhattan and New Jersey escaped to the Hudson Valley and founded potteries in Poughkeepsie, Ellenville, and Kingston.” Stoneware containers included pickling crocks, storage jars, pitchers, and water coolers. Decorators traveled between the potteries and applied images of flowers, ferns, and birds. Levy says antiques currently in demand include cupboards, such as the massive Dutch kasten and their descendants, and early wing chairs whose side panels were meant to enclose and warm the sitter by concentrating heat from a facing fireplace. That warming function is less in demand today, but the beauty and history of such pieces makes them
valuable to buyers who appreciate their context. As Luciano observes, “The history of the area comes alive, the more you connect the dots.” Quick tips Antiques are widespread in the Hudson Valley, with bargains available at yard sales and auctions. Furniture can be left with that worn, vintage look or resurfaced into handsome pieces. In shops, prices are likely to run higher, but most pieces will be more polished. Expert antique dealers are also appraisers and can be hired to establish the provenance and history of yard sale items. Some dealers offer resurfacing services. Here are five examples of locally found antiques with deep historical resonance: Kasten: “One is a kas, two are kasten,” explains Levy. “They are cupboards with cornices — top pieces that step out from the body—and balled feet. They were based on Dutch forms, but the ones I have were made in the Hudson Valley in the 18th century. The Elting-Beekman workshop in Kingston was the premier producer. Country versions were made by people who wanted them for their houses, but their cabinetry skills were lesser, so they made an interpretation, not quite as formal.” Dating from 1750 to 1820, kasten can range in price from $12,000 to $175,000. Statuette: Posed like a pensive Degas bather, a figurine by Woodstock artist Eugenie Gershoy is about twelve inches high and weighs almost nothing because it’s made of papier-mâché. The Ukrainianborn Gershoy developed her own sculptural material composed of wheat paste, plaster, and egg tempera. Also a watercolorist, she was among the many local artists involved in the Federal Art Project, the visual arts arm of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA). Cox expects the graceful yet earthy figure to sell for $300 to $500 at his gallery’s Collector’s Exchange Auction on May 25. Catskill Mountain House plate: Views of the
March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley
photos by dion ogust
Top row: wing chair, locally made stoneware, Dutch kasten, New York leg; beneath: art by Josef Presser at Perry Beekman’s Woodstock home, Jim Cox with a pot made by Zulma Steele, a work by Albert Heckman (also at Beekman’s home)
Hudson Valley were imprinted on Staffordshire china plates made in England in a style called transferware, developed in the mid-1800s. “The English sent artists to do sketchbooks of spots people wanted to see,” explains Levy. The scenes were engraved, printed on tissue paper, and transferred through a wet-ink process to china plates and bowls, then fired. Hudson River views were among the most popular subjects. Catskill Mountain House plates are rare and can run up to $1500. A view from the Ruggles House in Newburgh sold for $225. Shamrock andirons: In the mid-19th century, Troy, an industrial city next to Albany, was known for its production of iron goods. The Burden Iron Works was powered by the world’s biggest water wheel, while the Rensselaer Works made plates for the Civil War battleship Monitor, as well as rails for train tracks. Another product of the iron industry was andirons to hold logs in fireplaces. Luciano recently came across a pair of andirons decorated with shamrocks, emblematic of the Irish families who were drawn by jobs in the Troy iron works. The set is priced at $1500. Joseph Tubby landscapes: Like many modernday artists, Tubby maintained a presence both in
New York City and in the Catskills, and he had a day job. To support his family, he resorted to sign painting, wallpapering, and house painting, working both in his hometown of Rondout and in the metropolitan area, where he shared an apartment. Some of Tubby’s finest landscapes, executed in the 1870s and 1880s, feature scenes of Kingston, the Hudson River, and Rondout Creek. Nestled into many of these landscapes are buildings that are still standing today. Tubby
painted a view of the Stony Clove railroad line that once went from Phoenicia to Greene County; fragments of its rails persist in several Phoenicia back yards. Prices for Tubby’s work range from $2000 to $35,000 and up. ● For information on the dealers quoted in this article, visit their websites at timeandmaterialsantiques.com (Tom Luciano), jamescoxgallery. com (Jim Cox), and jenkinstownantiques.com (Sanford Levy).
21, 2013 26 | March Home Hudson Valley
BUILT TO LAST Local architects highlight projects with one foot in the past
ast year we asked three local architects to tell us about a favorite residential project theyâ€™d worked on, one that had been particularly memorable and rewarding from their point of view. Recently we continued that conversation with three other architects in the region. This time we heard about projects that were memorable because they allowed the architects the opportunity to connect the past with the present while looking forward to the future. Each tale is different. But a common thread runs through their stories. The first involves a â€œcarpenterâ€™s specialâ€? that had been modified so many times and in such odd ways that had features worth keeping even though it didnâ€™t work as a modern living space. Another architect was asked to create a new house that functioned in tandem with an old, existing cabin on the property. The last involves an architect and designer who revisited a project from their past: a house that had burned to the ground, leaving only
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its foundation and the opportunity for the creative team to rebuild it for the family, adapting it to the ownersâ€™ current needs and contemporary energy efficiency standards. Reconnecting past and present â€œMy ideal project is not necessarily a completely new, from-the-ground-up structure,â€? says Catherine Paplin, who has practiced architecture in the Northeast for over 18 years. â€œI actually like to inherit something to work with, because my view is that with modern architecture we live with a severe break with the past. One of my essential ideals is to reconnect with traditions and to bring them into the modern world.â€? But itâ€™s not about â€œapingâ€? the past, contends Paplin. â€œI call it â€˜reconnecting the broken spine of architecture,â€™ to start with something thatâ€™s there and figure out how to transform it to be something thatâ€™s not only satisfying for the client but appropriate to our time, something that makes a whole of the past and present.â€? Paplin earned her masterâ€™s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia and does much of her work in New York City, Her first project in the area, a 2006 cottage renovation for a client in Woodstock. led to a residential renovation project in Phoenicia that satisfied Paplinâ€™s credo for reconnecting the past with the way we live today. â€œThe house in Phoenicia was really a mish-mash,
a carpenterâ€™s special,â€? Paplin says. â€œIt was originally a very simple kind of cabin built in the Fifties, but added on to in that gradual way that happens.â€? Nothing in the house was developed in a way that made sense, she says. Many of the changes done to the house made for awkward living. A kitchen peninsula with fixed bar stools allowed very little clearance to get past them, and yet a person had to go through that area to get anywhere else in the house. â€œThen there was this sort of catwalk balcony in the area that the kitchen was in that led to a room where you stepped down into it and could barely stand.â€? Paplin and her team kept the catwalk, but rebuilt it as a simple balcony, opening up the space completely so it could flow properly. The kitchen floor was concrete (with radiant heat) and the countertops wrapped with zinc sheet, chemically-treated to achieve a verdigris finish. The renovation involved using a lot of reclaimed wood, including three types of pine, wormy oak and chestnut, along with pine mill flooring, a live edge oak slab and antique oak. (â€œIt was like a festival of wood,â€? says Paplin.) The exterior was re-clad with wavy-edged board typical of the region. The original house had utilized a lot of wood in its rustic design, but neither the materials nor workmanship were of good quality, says Paplin. â€œYou could see what they were reaching for, but we brought very good-quality carpenters in there, including somebody whoâ€™d been trained in Japanese joinery techniques who used that knowledge to inform how things were put together.â€? (Japanese carpentry is characterized by the use of interlocking joints created without the use of nails, screws, or power tools.) At the threshold to the dining room, a framework was built of reclaimed hand-hewn oak barn beams. â€œThe idea behind that was almost as though weâ€™d found this skeleton of the old house in the walls and had exposed it,â€? says Paplin. â€œAnd in fact, we did find the remains of the frame of the original house in about that location, so in a way it was like we were
March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley
photos by will dendis
Catherine Paplin’s Woodstock project
I call it ‘reconnecting the broken spine of architecture,’ ... something that makes a whole of the past and present making a fiction that gives it a kind of mythology.” Ultimately, the work’s about finding the potential in what may seem at first to be an unpromising space, says Paplin. “I’m trying to meet the client wherever they are in terms of their ability to conceive of spaces and what they want, and then use my knowledge to make that a reality. I’m not designing something ideal that I think is for me, I’m always designing for them.” A redo Stephanie Bassler and Peter Reynolds co-founded North River Architecture & Planning in Stone Ridge four years ago after working together at another firm.
Bassler, principal of NRAP and Reynolds, senior designer, have a design portfolio as eclectic as the varied tastes of the Hudson Valley residents they build for, encompassing everything from the local vernacular that reflects the origins of the region (stone Dutchstyle houses) to the arts-and-crafts style. The bulk of their work involves custom design. Common to all of their projects is an emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainable practices. “Sustainable design is about making houses that are flexible enough to be adaptable to what happens down the road as families grow or change,” Reynolds says. “Part of our strategy is to design houses that have a simple, iconic kind of plan that can be easily adapted or added onto.” A few years back, the architect and designer got a chance to prove their concept when a house they’d built just outside Stone Ridge some years earlier burned to the ground. The owners wanted to rebuild on the site. “It was an emotional kind of a thing,” says Reynolds. “The really rewarding part of doing this house
over was that it was an opportunity for a client to look again at the house that they’d loved and lived in for quite a while and look at ways in which it could be updated and customized for their needs now.” The original shingled house with an arts-andcrafts flavor was one of a series of houses that had been designed by NRAP on spec. “We started with taking one design idea for a very simple barn-type house, and then extended it into six different design languages,” says Reynolds. “Each of the houses is quite different. The first is very much a starter home, and this one was about the fourth in the series.” It was designed so that it could be built with tall cathedral ceilings in the main room (the original choice when the first home on the site was built), but with enough flexibility in the design so that the users could deck over the main living and dining room area to get another master suite or two more bedrooms upstairs, which is what was done in the second-version rebuild. The exterior of the home and the rest of its basic plan were rebuilt as in the first version.
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Reynolds says that the inspiration for the concept came from reading Stewart Brand’s How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built. “It was a beautiful book that a lot of us read,” says Reynolds. “His basic premise was that the homes that lasted longest were the ones that were most easily adaptable. So we picked up on that in this series of houses as something we wanted to work on.” Principal architect Stephanie Bassler says another aspect of refining the home the second time around is that some significant improvements could be made to the energy profile of the house. Two kinds of insulation were used, spray foam and cellulose, and a great deal of attention was paid to making the structure airtight, important both for the performance of the insulation and for the air quality for the occupants.
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“We also dealt with some mechanical systems called heat recovery ventilators, or HRVs, that ten years ago, when this house was built, were not even part of the conversation in terms of the sophistication that we’re dealing with now,” says Bassler. “Things are changing quickly, and we’re able to make some serious inroads into changing how buildings behave and how much energy they consume.” The products on the market are not quite keeping
up, though, in terms of affordability. The commonly available consumer brands of things like windows are still pretty expensive, says Bassler, and that’s often a limiting factor in terms of what a project budget can bear. And with mechanical systems, you pay for efficiency. What NRAP tries to do, she says, is make the investments in the house not only pay off over time in terms of measurable energy savings but also make them affordable as upfront costs. “By
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‘Sustainable design is about making houses that are ﬂexible enough to be adaptable to what happens down the road as families grow or change’ increasing the insulation levels in the house, we’re able to use smaller mechanical systems in order to heat and cool, so there’s a point there where it all starts to make sense.” While the second version of the house outside Stone Ridge has features that are laudable in terms of energy efficiency, says Bassler, and is something that they’re proud of, the ideal situation is for a structure to achieve a certified passive house standard of energy efficiency (not to be confused with passive
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solar design, which is something else entirely, says Reynolds). The passive house standard, with stringent requirements for airtight-ness and fresh air exchange with energy recovery, is becoming common across Europe, especially in Germany. In this country, says Reynolds, the standard is just beginning to be used. “But passive house design doesn’t actually cost much more money, and the investment pays for itself over a reasonably short time frame,” he says.
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Daub’s Kerhonkson project
house standard, says Reynolds, for an office addition at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck. Bassler is a certified passive house designer. “The passion there is that we construct new buildings, and we recognize that every one we build is a consumer of energy,” says Bassler. “There are ways that we can make a real difference in how they’re built, and how people use them and live in them, which are quantifiable and can address the environmental issues that are evident right now. It’s a small thing from house to house, but it’s a critical mass effort.” Figurative transition New Paltz-based David Daub is a third-generation architect following in the footsteps of his father,
Home Hudson Valley Spring Home Improvement Editorial EDITOR:
Will Dendis Joe Morgan CONTRIBUTORS: Susan Barnett, Will Dendis, Sharyn Flanagan, Dion Ogust, Violet Snow, Lynn Woods AD PLACEMENT:
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Home Hudson Valley: Spring 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.
Gerald, and grandfather, Sidney, who founded Daub Architecture in 1917. David joined the firm in 1982. Like Paplin, Daub says he finds a challenge in working with an existing structure to adapt it to the way we live now. “My passion is in working with the rich history of buildings,” says Daub, “respecting the continuity to the past. There’s a spirit in the old buildings, unlike creating something new from scratch.” Peeling back the layers and seeing what’s underneath is always “surprising and informative.” Doing historic preservation always brings up the topic of what actually is historical and original, says Daub. “There could be layers and layers of changes in an old house, and some of them might not have been done so well. Understanding the period of the house and the design of that era, one can actually
There’s a spirit in the old buildings, unlike creating something new from scratch deconstruct some of the areas that weren’t done very well and bring it into more of a piece; bring unity to it.” Several years back, Daub worked on a residential project in Kerhonkson that involved building a new, freestanding structure that had to relate to a small cabin already on the property. The two buildings were
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March 21, 2013 Home Hudson Valley to function together but remain separate. Nothing was to be done to the original cabin, but the new structure had to connect to it in such a way that one could open the door of the old building and walk into the new. With overhanging roof on one side of the cabin, says Daub, â€œthe idea was to set the new building so that the two roof eaves were just inches apart from each other.â€? Why would a client want such an eccentric arrangement when it would seem more feasible to integrate the new and the old into a single renovated building? â€œThe owner was a filmmaker,â€? says Daub, â€œand I think it was like a marker in time for him. He could [figuratively] step out of the past into a new era, and make that transition from the old into the new. He was also a Buddhist practitioner, and I think when he looked at this cabin, it helped to remind him of impermanence.â€? The original cabin was covered in asphalt shingles; the new building in cedar-stained clapboard siding. The new design was zen-like, says Daub, without radiators or baseboards and using wood as
a strong visual element. Itâ€™s built on a tinted concrete slab with radiant heat, and is a passive solar design home, south-facing to gather the light and with a less permeable surface on the north side, with fewer windows to provide more of a barrier to heat loss. Daub grew up within the business. While the fundamentals of architecture are the same as theyâ€™ve always been, he says, in terms of bringing together physical phenomenon with the personal human qualities of living, he does think that there have been changes over the years in the level of design knowledge that clients have now and in their level
of expectations. â€œPeople were more manually experienced in the past, so I think they had more of an appreciation for the work itself,â€? says Daub. â€œBut I think the possibilities are broader now.â€? People are more familiar today with design principles, he says, thanks to the Internet. â€œPeople were more conservative visually [in the past]. Now you can bring in images you want by searching around for them, whereas before it was a more localized situation, where the inspiration was already-built objects that you would see in the field rather than as images on the screen.â€? â—?
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