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before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Home in Upstate New York Made To Feel Like A Hotel

by Erin Austen Abbott

Grey Dove Design on Design*Droits-Humains While she was just getting started as an interior designer, Kate McCann of  was approached with her biggest project to date — the complete renovation of . Sitting in the Catskills of upstate New York, Leton to be exact, the home was in need of a complete overhaul. The homeowners wanted a getaway for family and friends and a boutique hotel feel to the house so that it could be rented for weekends and vacations. Kate chose a monochromatic color palette for a couple of reasons: for the love of black, white and grey and also because the house is an escape from the over-stimulation of New York City. Keeping the color palette neutral and limited helped to create a sense of calm.

Working on a budget, Kate kept some costs down, like using the existing cabinets in the kitchen and just giving them a fresh coat of paint, and finding most of the art on the walls from Etsy and through a friend’s art auction. However, splurges were made on some items, like the beds. “We wanted sturdy and durable furniture since the house was going to be rented. I thought it would be nice to keep the rooms similar so that it would create continuity and feel like a boutique hotel, mi up the colors (white and natural steel) added a little variety,” Kate shares. The spiral staircase was also a splurge, more so because of how much trouble they went through to have it fabricated. After it didn’t work properly to begin with, Kate had to hire a second person to work on it. Since it’s such a focal point in the home, it was important that it was just right.

I love the bright, white fireplace, giving a sense of coziness in the winter, while brightening up the interior in the summer. Would you be able to see the vision of the property based on these before pictures? It’s certainly a remarkable transformation. —

Photography by  /

Image above: One of the six bedrooms at the , with natural light pouring in. The bed is from ; the art can be found on Etsy.

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A fresh coat of house paint in  and leaves the home matching the inside, with a clean and crisp look.

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Before, the home was maroon, white, and gold. While still feeling large, the colors before made it feel choppy. Now, the colors create clean lines and consistency.

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The mud room is so beautiful! The  fits perfectly in the space. I love the! While sticking with the feel of the whole home, the are so fun at the same time.

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The of dreams! The brass and bottles are a great pop of color. The spiral staircase was created custom for 66 Fuller House.

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A 1970s or 80s prefab staircase was replaced with the new spiral staircase.

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A peek into the sitting area, just off the dining room and kitchen.

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chairs become the highlight in the sitting room, along with the , all set in front of that beautiful fireplace.

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Before, the sitting area fireplace was dark stone, making the room feel very heavy. Now it’s light and inviting.

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Kate mixed pieces ( and  together to create a stunning firewood placement. With all the wood trim before and the heaviness created from the dark stone, the firewood would have blended in. Now it feels like a beautiful focal point.

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From the sitting room into the living room, you get a peek at the double fireplaces. The fireplace tools can be found .

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The living room is now light and bright with a painted white stone fireplace.

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Before, the living room fireplace was dark and dated. Now it’s bright and airy.

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Another corner of the living room. The coffee table is from . The lounge chair is and the rug is .

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The texture of the works well to soften the look of the almost monochromatic home.

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From the sitting area, you get a view of the open kitchen, with high ceilings and lots of natural light.

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While Kate did keep the cabinets, she gave them a nice paint job and replaced the hardware. The counters were replaced and subway tile was installed.

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The beautiful  pendants take center stage in the kitchen and dining area.

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The master bedroom, on the third floor, at the top of the landing of the spiral staircase. I love the on the side of the bed.

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The master bath sits open to the room, giving it a spa-like feel.

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For the before, you can see that the bath was incased in wood, sitting under the wooden ceiling and it felt heavy. Now it’s light and dreamy.

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A close-up of the master bath’s . The tile can be found .

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The of the third floor guest bathroom ties into the rest of the home so well. Other floors throughout the bathrooms in the home, not shown, can be found and .

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Before, the bathroom had vinyl flooring and felt dark and dated. Now the flooring is bright and fun!

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I love the first-floor bathroom’s . It’s classic yet also in style.

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The first-floor guest bedroom is decorated with a beautiful , a lamp found on the street in NYC, and a warm dresser.

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The vintage rattan chair, found on eBay, becomes a focal point of the first-floor bedroom.

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Another guest bedroom, on the first floor, keeps with the monochrome theme throughout the home. The bed can be found .

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Another of the guest rooms, with the same bed as the others, in .

Sources:

Sitting Room: 

(Fabric: Manhattan Tuxedo)

Candle Holder: Vintage

Living Room:

Art to left of Fireplace: Zen Radish by Sue Tallon from

Art on Fireplace: The Miss Pixel Shop from Etsy (shop no longer exists)

Vase & Antler on Fireplace: Elephant Trunk Flea Market

: (Fabric: Hatta Flannel)

: fabric: notion gunsmoke

Lamp: Dwell Studio Naomi Floor Lamp (no longer available)

Kitchen:

: Matte Black

: from Lowes

 Mudroom:

: (white paint with ebony stain)

Basket: Crate & Barrel (no longer available)

Master Bedroom/ Bathroom:

Armoire: West Elm (no longer available)

Towel Ladder: Etsy Sonadora (no longer available)

Studio Leaning Rack (no longer available)

Exterior:

House Stain:

House Trim:

Deck Stain:

Interior:

Interior Wall Paint Color:

Interior Beams Paint Color:

Wood Flooring:

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Comments

  • Lovely home that highlights texture and pattern so nicely!
    Could you link us to the hardware she used on the kitchen cabinets?

    • Hello Catherine,

      Thank you so much! The hardware is the Rochdale Cabinet Pull from Signature Hardware.

      Best,
      Kate

  • Incredibly well done and tasteful renovation–more like transformation. Am very curious what the budget was. It certainly looks like a luxe Scandi hotel or a set from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Luckily the murder here is not to good taste but probably to the possibility of an equitable society in the USA: the one idea we haven’t taken from the Scandi societies. The cement tiles alone cost a fortune. And to think that this “getaway” will sit empty much of the year while the homeless population in New York keeps going up and cold cold winter is upon us. Beautiful place, but sad too.

    • Paul

      Can you explain why and how you feel this home and/or its design is possible for the “murder of the possibility of an equitable society in the USA”. This statement feels hyperbolic.

      I understand that some people feel that spending money on home design is wasteful or that all money should instead be devoted to those in need, ie: the homeless population in New York state. However, I don’t think it’s a fair or accurate correlation to say that a) people spending on home design can’t also be donating/supporting those in need or b) spending on home design is somehow causing that situation of need. What I’m hearing here, which sounds like, “if you spend money on cement tiles you’re not helping the homeless population”, feels overly simplistic.

      Supporting those in need in any and all forms is important, no question about it. But one thing that’s often overlooked in this area in particular (since I live here and volunteer regularly at several hunger and crisis-based centers) is how many people make a living from home work like this. Whether it’s tile installation, painting, construction, gravel/driveway work, landscaping, appliance work, etc, so many people in our area work on projects like this and support their families with this work. So while I agree the income juxtaposition between those doing the installation work (or making the supplies) and those living in/around those installations is something worth discussion, I think it’s not a realistic look at all the ways this income and need-inequity comes to be.

      I think people with “fancy” homes and perceived wealth are easy targets for the frustration and sadness that come with acknowledging how many people are in need. But there isn’t a single source of these issues. The causes are vast and complicated and range from racism and systemic oppression to gaps in education availability, healthcare and job availability.

      I know this is an overly lengthy response, but this area is my home and it’s where I live, work and volunteer every day. I care about it, and the people here, deeply. I’m on the board of Ulster Corps and we regularly speak with (and register, for the purpose of ensuring state and federal funding for their support) the homeless population here to understand their needs and what has lead to their current experience. There are many factors, but to point to a single home (or a trend in expensive materials) as the reason is an over-simplification of a very complicated, and very important, issue.

      Grace

      • My reading of Paul’s comment was that it wasn’t meant as a critique of the individuals or the communities who design, work on or spend money on beautiful homes, but instead was a more generalized reflection on inequality in America. Your point that design and renovation is a job creator and that the wealthy individuals in your community give back is well taken, but does not detract from the fact that this country is the most unequal developed* economy in the world due to underlying systemic and political choices that have very little to do with the individual choices of any of us make. In this country in which property and the home is so intricately tied in with the American dream, it is indeed interesting to see Scandinavian design so widely adopted and lauded, while the Scandinavian model of a social contract is still derided. Symbolism is not oversimplification.

        All of that said, I absolutely adore designsponge, not just for the eye candy but for the many thoughtful and thought-provoking posts that you write. Thank you for all that you do, and for inspiring me daily.

        [*Excluding wealthy, unequal countries whose economies are almost entirely dependent on a single industry, mostly oil (Saudi Arabia) and finance (Switzerland/Singapore).]

        • “…it is indeed interesting to see Scandinavian design so widely adopted and lauded, while the Scandinavian model of a social contract is still derided.”

          A genuine point of reflection!

      • I don’t want to detract from this dramatic and successful cabin make-over, but at some time in the future I would love DesignDroits-Humains to show us great examples of truely afforable housing. It seems like so many new builds and home remodels come under the ‘luxury’ category. Adding to this problem, in cities everywhere many of the affordable existing family homes and apartments are being bought up by speculators who are converting those residences to ‘vacation rentals’ such as Airbnb, which reduces available resources even further. What communities or property owners are offering great solutions to this problem? Do they have concepts that we can use as examples for our own cities? Are alternative ideas such as shared housing effective? I’d love to see great examples to inspire our own local situations.

        • Jen

          I think the concept of affordable is a tough one to define, since that idea if different to different people. But I am more than happy to work on bringing some more think pieces (since what you’re touching on is a much bigger issue) and stories on public and affordable housing to DS. We know a few people who work for major cities in housing departments, so we’ll see what ways we can approach this topic that is open, honest and educational.

          Based on reader feedback and stats, most of our readers respond strongly to these types of homes as well as smaller spaces (although smaller spaces don’t always mean smaller budgets). So we try to offer a range of all types of housing, from smaller homes with smaller budgets to larger spaces with larger budgets.

          I’m working on a long and very detailed piece about racism in real estate for DS right now that will touch on some of these issues of community housing, system oppression and why we don’t see as many solutions for affordable housing as we would like. These issues are big and serious and complex, so I’m trying to be careful and take my time approaching them from a lot of different perspectives. Stay tuned for that big piece early next year.

          Grace

          • In your piece on racism and real estate, I hope you have found that wonderful website: Mapping Inequality, Redlining in New Deal America () , NPR has an article on this: . I personally learned about redlinning decades ago when we found a house on the ‘wrong side’ of town and couldn’t get a realtor to show it to us–eventually we had the listing agent show us that house, which we bought and still own–it’s been an intersting “ride”.

            • Jen

              Yes, Redlining (and groups working to undo that racist practice) will be a major part of the discussion, as will bank loans (and the lack of them), real estate practices and credit unions.

              Grace

          • Wow! I’m excited to read the piece you will be working on addressing racism in housing and also to note how redlining bridged an awfully wide gap between wealth disparities among whites and blacks in America, and how that disparity affects black communities and lifestyle even today. As I’ve mentioned before, Grace, thanks for using your platform to provoke awareness and address uncomfortable conversations.

    • Hi Pam,

      The sheets are the SKVATTRAM set from Ikea. The linen duvet cover and shams are the LINBLOMMA from Ikea but unfortunately it looks like they are no longer available. Ikea does have a linen option called PUDERVIVA. I do not see them in white online, but offered in other colors.

      Best,
      Kate

      • The place was so dated and dark before that I’m just amazed by your transformation Kate — I think I would have seen it and thought, yeah, no way, pass — and instead your creative vision just blows me away! Besides the dark fireplaces I can’t believe how such a simple coat of pant transformed the dated kitchen?!

        I have a hideous early 90s style kitchen with cherry-colored mdf (or particle board?) cabinets and this gives me hope but I’m not sure if faux wood can be painted…anyway this gives me hope!

        Also, not sure why folks think painting the stone fireplaces will be “dated” — it reminds me a bit of Sarah Sherman Samuel’s Palm Springs place which had similiarly scary dark stonework and she painted it white and it also looks amazing…

  • this is beautiful, but I can’t help but think that the white paint on the stone work will date pretty quickly. why not just let the material speak for itself? dress the room in white, and leave the stone as is. why does everything always have to be blindingly white?

    • Hi Rebecca and Mireille,

      It was a difficult decision to paint the stone fireplaces….I responded to another comment about this but not sure you will see it, so sorry if I am repeating myself. There was a high gloss sealant on the stone that we could not remove, it was more evident in person than it is in the before pictures. I struggled with the decision and even waited until the rooms were furnished, hoping the glossy finish would be ok. But, unfortunately the fireplaces looked very dated so we decided to paint them. I wish the natural stone could have worked, it would have been beautiful if it was the right stone.

      Best,
      Kate

      • Kate,

        My grandparents home had that original dark stone and dark wood paneling in it and it was a dark and dreary place. I hope the new owners painted over that stone and wood paneling and brought some light to the home. I can understand the difficulty of making that decision, but having lived with that stone, thank goodness you painted it! I absolutely love this space and it is a beautiful make over.

        Kandy

        • Thank you, Kandy!
          I appreciate your comments.
          Painting stone and brick is a big decision….no going back! :)

          Best,
          Kate

  • Wow, that is a transformation. I appreciate how dramatic they’ve gone with making everything dramatically black/white, but I’m kind of sad to see all those stones painted over.

  • Why have they painted those amazing fireplace river rocks – likely so lovingly collected one by one – WHITE? Its like blotting out nature with Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace.

    • I heartily agree. While so much of this remodel is a definite improvement, I’m horrified at the painting of those beautiful rocks. There are enough windows, that the space would be almost as bright—but not “blinding white”—with white walls and woodwork, light floors and furniture. And unlike wood, there’s no going back with painting stonework. The colors and texture in the rocks added a lot of character and soul to the home. But I guess if the owners wanted to completely get away from a cabin in the country to a hotel in the city feel, that has certainly been achieved.

    • Hi Cat and Oregon Girl,

      I struggled with the decision to paint the fireplaces. I wanted to keep them natural, however there was a high gloss sealant on them that unfortunately we could not remove. In the before pictures it is not so evident, but in person this glossy finish was not attractive. I actually waited until the very end to paint them – the rooms were even already furnished! This did not make the painter very happy but in the end we all thought it was an improvement.

      Best,
      Kate

  • It’s definitely a big improvement. For me, I would have left and added some wood tones. I would have left the wooden ceiling in the bathroom, and had a wooden (not painted) farm table in the kitchen. Just a bit of natural wood, would bring a bit more warmth and interest to this space

    • Hi Asterix,

      Thank you. And yes, I agree, some more wood would be nice. The dining table was on sale in the black stain finish and it was too good a bargain to pass up! The size of the table was perfect and has extensions for larger gatherings. The wood ceiling was a tough decision. It was very yellow and had a shiny finish. I thought of sanding it in hopes to remove the shine and perhaps some of the yellow. We tried to whitewash it so that some of the wood would show through, but it just looked unfinished so we decided to add more coats of paint. Perhaps some day the ceiling can be clad in a beautiful rustic wood, that would be great!

      Best,
      Kate

  • A very impressive (and, I’m sure, very expensive) renovation that has completely transformed the place. It looks very chic and put together, but also very cold and sterile.

  • I have a entire wall of stone (with fireplace) in our living room that has no windows so it’s very dark. I can appreciate your trying to make the natural stone work, as I have been “trying” for a year and a half. I don’t have the gloss/sealant issue, but the stone and mortar have strange drips and stains that I can’t remove for the life of me. I’ve tried just about everything to make the stones and the room NOT feel like a dungeon, but no luck. I don’t have the budget to call in a professional so I’m considering building a temporary wall myself to the left and right of the fireplace and leaving the stone above the fireplace. Regardless, stone in person is a whole different ballgame and how one feels in the space is completely subjective.

    • Hi Caitlin,

      Thank you.

      Yes, it is different in pictures and how one feels in a space is really what is most important. I would probably never paint an old stone fireplace (one prior to the 1980’s). Some of the stone fireplaces from the 50’s and 60’s are beautiful…others not so nice. And very old stone fireplaces are often amazing!

      I would be happy to look at your fireplace and room if you email me some pictures. Maybe we can brainstorm together?

      Best,
      Kate
      [email protected]

  • Bravo to Kate – what a transformation! I’m a little surprised at the negative comments (i.e. the fireplace surround and budget complaints?), you never really know what constraints a designer is working with and as readers we’re only seeing a smidge of the property pre-renovation. It’s a brave thing to share work on a platform like Design Droits-Humains!

    Also, I’ve been on the hunt for a fire screen – I would love to know where the one in the sitting room comes from….

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you so much, Ash!

      I appreciate your comments. :)

      And yes, it was not an inexpensive renovation, but a huge part of the budget was actually spent on the labor which brought work to local contractors. I tried to keep costs down with the furniture and materials – purchasing many items on sale – a couple of the chairs were floor models. We balanced the higher cost of the cement tile with a budget friendly subway tile. Artwork and some light fixtures were purchased from small businesses on Etsy. Other artwork was purchased from an auction that raises money for Aids research.

      The fireplace screen is from Wayfair and is still available!

      Thank you!
      Kate

  • As a person who has great interest in both design and politics, it is very satisfying to read reflections on the two combined. Thank you :-)
    As a Scandi I much prefer the American Boho Style compared to all that black and white – but the renovation itself is amazing :-)

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