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A Brooklyn Couple Finds Their Saugerties Country Escape

by Grace Bonney

It’s hard to resist the lure of the Hudson Valley. My story of falling in love with this area and coming up to live here full-time is not unique, and every week I meet someone new who came here on vacation and didn’t want to leave. But I’ve yet to hear of another couple that shares our exact trajectory from Brooklyn to upstate — until I found Roy Caires and Tommy Cole. Roy and Tommy own in Brooklyn and first fell in love with the Woodstock/Saugerties area during a visit for a friends’ birthday party back in 2010. After their wedding in 2013, Tommy and Roy started to take the area seriously as a spot for their potential home (especially after the reality of Brooklyn housing costs sunk in) and the next year they headed upstate to meet with a realtor. After seeing five houses they headed back to Brooklyn where they decided this house, originally built around the 1850s, was the one. They put in an offer the next day and the deal was finished within six weeks. Sometimes when you know, you know.

Roy and Tommy knew their home needed a lot of work (the kitchen and bathrooms required a gut renovation), but they wisely decided to get to know their home before making any big decisions. So their first three months of life upstate were spent sleeping on an air mattress in the living room and cooking on a charcoal grill outside. During those early days they learned a lot about the flow of the house, what needed to be changed, and what could actually get by with a little sanding and paint. So after their first winter the couple spent five months opening up walls downstairs, repainting, renovating the kitchen and bathroom and creating a mudroom to help keep their floors clean during snowy weather. The result is a beautiful, modern farmhouse that mixes rustic and contemporary styles with ease. The couple’s collection of antiques, folk art and repurposed furniture adds personality to the space and the clean lines and open areas created during renovation give the space an open, loft-like feel. “This home is an escape from the city for us,” Roy explains. “We are so very thankful to have been able to purchase this home and renovate it to create a place where we can sit back, relax and be surrounded by nature with friends and family.” We’re so thankful that Roy and Tommy welcomed us into their home for this tour today. Enjoy! xo, grace

Photography by

Additional sources:

PAINT – The entire house was painted one color, Benjamin Moore Affinty Series, color is called STEAM.

KITCHEN: Cabinets are custom made in Pennsylvania and painted, a cheslea grey with a coffee glaze in the Hudson Valley.
Countertops- Ceasarstone Quartz ( London Grey)
Sink and faucet are Kohler,
Fridge and Dishwasher- Blomberg,
Stove range is Viking
Island is custom made from old factory legs and reclaimed butcher block by Brooklyn designer Dorset Finds
2 Metal stools (Roy’s sitting on one) are vintage Toledo work stools
2 other chairs (one white other brown with back) in room are vintage finds
Open shelves on subway tile wall are reclaimed Redwood taken from defuct water towers from NYC brackets are from Rejuvenation.
All light fixtures are from Schoolhouse Electric Company.

DINING ROOM: Walnut top table with copper legs, French style X back chairs- all from a furniture showroom in Canada.
Light fixture: Schoolhouse Electric
Arched Mirror on wall: Flea market find
Mud room and bath room doors are reclaimed form original doors that were in the house.
Old church bench, Flea market Find

Light Grey couch- Blu Dot
Tweed grey couch- Find Brooklyn
Jute Rug- West Elm
TV / Wood Console- custom built by us
Coffee table, Church Pew, side table and table lamp- All Flea Market Finds

Sink and Medicine Cabinet- Kohler
Wall sconces- Schoolhouse Electric
Shelves- Reclaimed Redwood, Brackets from Rejuvenation
Subway tile walls with black grout
Glass shower stall
marble tile floor

Rug- West Elm
Bench and dresser- vintage

Pattern Rug form Mexico
Wool felt rug from Nepal
Dresser- Vintage find- repainted with Milk Paint
Artwork- Custom framed fabric swatches
Indigo Pillow- made by homeowners
Chairs- Vintage finds
Indigo blanket- Vintage 1930’s-40’s Dazzle print blanket found at Country Living Fair

Blanket- reworked military blankets
German Alphabet Scroll wall hanging- Fern in Hudson, Ny
ceiling light- School house Electric

Desk- family heirloom
Chair and double headed lamp- vintage finds

Roy and Tommy in their Saugerties, NY kitchen. Roy says, "They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and we feel that ours is definitely that." While they decided to do some renovating of their own, Roy and Tommy fell in love with the old brick and decided to keep it as a focal point of the room's design.
Roy explains that the home's previous kitchen was, "a shabby country chic and needed updating." They knew they wanted to do something more modern with a bit of rustic added in, so Roy and Tommy gutted the kitchen and had custom cabinets made in Pennsylvania. "We chose the Chelsea Grey color (Benjamin Moore) for a modern look but designed the kitchen cabinets in the classic shaker style," Roy said. The floors are original to the house, as well as the brick wall that was uncovered during demo. The custom kitchen island was created by by Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn furniture restorer .
A detail of the original brick wall uncovered during the kitchen's renovation.
This side of Roy and Tommy's kitchen has an open shelving design with reclaimed redwood shelves. The shelves are decorated with a mix of objects like found glass bottles, folk art pieces and even a photo of Rei Kawakubo of Comme Des Garcon. The teal blue bottle was a wedding gift from a friend. The three glass vessels with walnut tops are from Brooklyn design house .
Roy and Tommy's downstairs area benefitted from a few walls being removed to create an open-plan feel. "The light-filled space and the terrific breeze that flows throughout the house when the windows are open really helps you sit back and relax," Roy says. The wood floors are original to the house and were sanded and finished with a matte TOV-free poly to keep them looking as raw as possible. Tommy and Roy built the wood log / TV console themselves using old wood that was removed from the kitchen renovation.
This wood stove (essential for tough winters upstate) came with the house. Roy and Tommy had it reinstalled in its current location in the living room.
Tommy and Roy opened up two walls in this space to get the open floorplan feel they wanted downstairs. This view is taken from just outside the kitchen, looking out onto the rest of the floor. The steel candlesticks are from , a pair of sisters from Washington. The dining tabletop is walnut, the chaise lounge couch was made in North Carolina but purchased at in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
When Roy and Tommy came across this dining room set at a showroom they, "stopped dead in our tracks and screamed THATS THE ONE!" They loved the mix of the the modern table with the classic chairs - it was exactly what they wanted for their house. "The copper legs glow beautifully in the light and the natural wood of the chairs have such a rustic flair. We love having dinners at this table," Roy says.
This art deco-inspired cabinet was one of the first things Roy and Tommy bought for their house. They found it at a flea market and fell in love with the lines and muted color of the paint. The glimpse into the bathroom in this photo shows a little bit of the room's overhaul. "We wanted a sleek and clean look with marble tile floor, subway tile walls. It's very calming and spa-like now." The ladder was found on Etsy, the sink and mirror are from Kohler and the sconce is by Schoolhouse Electric.
Roy and Tommy kept the downstairs bathroom simple with a pedestal sink and mirror and a vintage apple-picking bucket used as a waste bin - found on Etsy.
Two couches flank the living room, creating plenty of room to relax and entertain. Roy and Tommy softened up the hard lines of their Blu Dot couch by adding indigo fabric (they made the pillow themselves). The old workbench was a flea market find and the rug is from West Elm.
At the end of the upstairs hallway is a plant stand and framed catalog of French fabric swatches from 1930 , found at a shop in Hudson, NY.
A macrame wall hanging from Etsy hangs between the master bedroom (left) and guest bedroom (right). Both ceiling light fixtures are from Schoolhouse Electric.
Tommy and Roy love that their bedroom, "sits in the front of the house where you can hear the water of a nearby creek. The sound is soothing to hear on summer nights." The bed is dressed with a scarf from India at the foot of the bed and the rug is West Elm. The handmade bench was left by previous owners; the photo above the bench is a view of the NY skyline during an incredible sunset that happened during Roy and Tommy's wedding party at The Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn.
The guest room has a mix of Ralph Lauren linens and a vintage Dazzle print blanket from the 30s or 40s, found at The Country Living Magazine Fair. Roy and Tommy used milk painted to makeover the simple dresser and added another framed fabric swatch piece as artwork.
With limited storage space, Roy and Tommy created this built-in, open-shelf cabinet to house linens for the room. The door to the right (original to the house) is the room's main clothes closet now. The grey felted wool bolster pillows are from a Portuguese company called .
"We love this cabinet!" Tommy and Roy say. When Tommy's aunt, a ceramic artist, asked if they wanted this cabinet, Roy and Tommy knew exactly where it would go. This sits at the end of the hallway that leads to the upstairs bath and the "dorm room." It's a focal point of the upstairs and houses old tools once owned by both of Tommy's grandfathers.
This small 6x6 foot upstairs room is used as a writing room. The desk belonged to Tommy's grandfather when he worked at the courthouse in Massachusetts. The Hudson Valley map print is by Brooklyn artist (and frequent D*S contributor!) Libby VanderPloeg.
This is a small guest room Roy and Tommy like to call "the Dorm Room." It's small in scale, but the bed is full-size and the room has a great cozy feel. The patchwork blanket is reclaimed from old military blankets and the scroll on the wall is the German alphabet in calligraphy.
This is the original door to the upstairs bathroom. Roy and Tommy had their contractor deconstruct it and put in the glass detail to allow light in through the bathroom and into the hallway (but retain the privacy). The brass stool in the bathroom is Turkish.
Broom heads made into little characters (made by an artist in Ohio) and a metal sculpture, a gift from Roy's sister, add a rustic element to the clean lines of the bathroom.
The view from the backyard of Roy and Tommy's farmhouse. The Japanese Maple, one of four on the property, frames the back of the house.
When designing their house, Roy and Tommy decided to add a mudroom by splitting the first floor bath in half. "The original bath was that large that we were able to divide into two rooms, one side became a full bath and the other side became a mudroom and laundry room with an new entrance to patio. The mudroom was a game-changer. We have never had one before and its functionality of coming in and out of the house and having a place to put or pick up your things is great. This photo shows the tile work we choose to do to give the mudroom a graphic touch. The primitive bench is a flea market find and balances out the hard lines of the room with a soft touch. Bag is Filson, Apron was made by a friend of ours in Brooklyn."
Roy and Tommy spend much of their time outside on the patio, "listening to birds, sipping on cocktails and just breathing in the fresh air of the Catskills." They eat all of their meals outside, weather permitting, and love to have friends and family to share meals here. The plates shown here were a wedding gift from Tommy's aunt, a ceramic artist.
The back patio also functions as an outdoor living room and dining room. The table is a vintage teak folding table from India, the chairs are from IKEA and the rug is from Overstock.com. The galvanized sconces on the wall are from Lowe's. Roy and Tommy had the ceiling covered in wood siding and stained to match the doors.
Roy and Tommy's floorplan.

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  • Agreed to the comment above, it’s very Schoolhouse Electric! Simple, lots of character, and warm. Love it! Especially that ladder in the bathroom… I need something like that for my new place.

  • It was so strange to come across this post today as this used to be our house. It’s amazing to see what they did with it and that the couple saw the vision that we did for the old house.

    We signed for the house during the same week that we found out we were pregnant with our first son. The house was a HOT MESS!!!!! We lived in NYC and fell in love with the house seeing through its issues, knowing that this would be the perfect getaway from the city. We spent most of the pregnancy ripping up layer upon layer of linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms, tearing down old shelves and painting every surface. Everything needed fi, but we created this warm country home that we loved and in which we enjoyed MANY dinner and outdoor barn parties. We added the porch which was great fun. We hoped to do many more things, but baby-land became our focus and then we moved to LA within a year thinking it was a temporary move. We rented the house out while we were gone and last year, decided it was time to sell it.

    I love how this couple opened up the living room. We intended to do the same as the house had a parlor-like layout with enclosed rooms. I love that the wood stove we put in after a cold Christmas is still there as are a few leftovers odds and ends. I wish this couple much happiness. I’d love to see it in person sometime. I miss the giant red barn in the back yard and the wild raspberry bushes. It’s so strange to see an old house you lived in redone, but it’s wonderful to see that it is appreciated. Enjoy!

  • What a beautiful home. I’m really start to appreciate the more country/old fashioned look. Houses that have the super clean/modern decor look nice, but I think honestly I’d much rather actually LIVE in house like this one.

  • Ridiculously good! I usually get sad when people “open up” old houses, but they did it in such a nice, respectful way. Just beautiful.

  • A great read. So special to have the previous owner comment and give some further history. Would the owners share which showroom in Canada they found their dining set? It’s beautiful. Nice to incorporate friends’ and families’ contributions into the home.

  • This is my favorite house hour I’ve seen on Design Droits-Humains. What a beautiful, beautiful home.

  • Simply beautiful. Love all the details for example: the vintage stools in the kitchen, the sculptures on the bathroom shelves, the aunt’s cabinet, the art deco inspired cabinet and so, so much more.

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