Curbed’s weekly original tours series takes you inside homes with eye-catching style and big personality—from modern tiny homes to pedigreed midcentury gems and everything in between.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite tours from across upstate New York, from a 19th-century fieldstone house on a former dairy farm to a black, 320-square-foot cabin that’s one-part guest house, one-part literary escape.
Frustrated by the lack of homes in their price range in Brooklyn, Nepal Asatthawasi and Chris Mottalini started looking farther afield. The house they found in the Hudson Valley wasn’t perfect, so they had to work to make it a fit for them. The learning curve was steep, but the potential rewards were great.
Asatthawasi, a native of Bangkok, discovered the old house that would become their new home. She became a passionate seeker of properties online, and one day she found something she thought might work: A stone house tucked into a wooded lot about an hour and a half from Brooklyn that was about to be auctioned.
”I recognized that it had a lot of potential, but it was hard for me to see past the sorry state it was in,” says Mottalini. “My wife was definitely the one who pushed for it, though. She loved the house and that was that.”
This library-cabin in upstate New York is an expression of one man’s history, heritage, and passion. It’s inspired by Japanese architecture, Norwegian design, and some of the best parts of owner Jason Koxvold’s childhood.
Koxvold is half Italian, half Norwegian—and while growing up in the UK he visited his grandfather’s family farm near Valdres, Norway, often. “My grandfather built the place himself. It started as one home, but as the family grew, it expanded to some 15 buildings,” he says. “As children, my cousins and I spent time there sledding and getting into trouble. But as we got older, the maintenance of the buildings started falling to us.”
It was the memories and the maintenance that led him to start constructing a second building at his own getaway in upstate New York. “Maintaining those buildings at my grandfather’s farm, and adding on to them, gave me the confidence to build something for myself—it was kind of the opening salvo,” he says. “I was definitely emulating my grandfather (whose name was Leif, which is now my son’s middle name).”
Like many city slickers, starved for space and seeking a deeper (and more convenient) connection to nature, 42-year-old artist Nicole Patel and her family fled the confines of their one-and-a-half bedroom apartment in Brooklyn for greener pastures in New York’s Hudson Valley. What Patel found was perhaps more than she and her husband, their young son in tow, had anticipated: a well-preserved, light-filled rental flat in a circa-1850 Victorian house in the village of Nyack—population: 7,000—not far from the Hudson River.
Nyack is the birthplace of realist painter Edward Hopper, who gained fame for his luminous works in oil and watercolor, which—as in his famous Nighthawks—explore the interplay of light and shadow. “There’s a quality of light here that reminds me of [Hopper],” says Patel, when asked about her own home in the house’s ground floor apartment, where sun pours in via 17 windows, many of which are original.
This petite cabin in Narrowsburg is just a three-hour drive from designer and Thing Industries founder Bridie Picot’s weekday home in Brooklyn, but the transition is pronounced between city and country for the New Zealand expat, her British husband Harry Bugden, and their dog, Rabbit.
“The Shack”, as she calls it, has a tiny footprint of just 502 square feet, and lies at the highest point of an eight-acre plot of land she bought in 2012, which runs from the unsealed access road along a ridge down to the river below—though most of it is so overgrown and woody she has only been down to the bottom a couple of times.
The Shack’s name is, of course, tongue-in-cheek. The structure, which comprises one bedroom, an open-plan kitchen and living room, and a narrow loft for a single bed located under the eaves and reached by a ladder, is actually a newly built “micro-cottage.” Picot purchased it from Catskill Farms, a design-and-build firm founded by Pennsylvania native Charles Petersheim.
There are people who love their homes, and then there’s Kate Orne. Orne is so passionate about her 1811 stone-and-wood farmhouse in upstate New York, she’s regularly moved to tears by it.
“Sometimes, I step out into the yard, I walk a few steps and turn back and look at it, and I get teary eyed,” she says, her voice breaking with emotion.
The house is a fieldstone structure just outside the town of Highland, with a Colonial-blue, cedar-shingled addition. It sits on what’s left of an old dairy farm, 13 bucolic acres with just two acres mowed and the rest in a natural state. “At one time, it was a vast farm,” Orne says. “But over the years they sold off parcels. Now, this is what’s left.”
Although it’s roughly a 90 minute drive from the front door of the farmhouse to Orne’s old Manhattan neighborhood, there’s a feeling of being far away from it all and engulfed in nature. To urbanites, it might seem lonely. To Orne, it feels more like home than the city ever did.
Watch this space for more peeks inside gorgeous homes in upstate New York, across the U.S., and around the world.