Practical and Aesthetic Improvements Allowed This Couple to Carve Out an Upstate Escape
Eschewing the popular upstate hamlets most New Yorkers flock to when moving out of the city, Mat and Colby opted to look further north and, after a series of dead ends, found a modest one-bedroom home in Hamden, a small town in the Catskills about three hours north of the city. The distance was a plus for the couple. “It was relatively easy to get to, but felt like it was in the middle of nowhere—no cell service, no streetlights, just fully immersed in nature,” says Mat.
But the long process of purchasing their first home was just the beginning of their journey. “All the hoops we had to jump through to actually get the house turned out to not even be the beginning of the challenges,” says Mat. The house was a fixer-upper—on their second day, the spring feeding their water mysteriously dried up—but thankfully their flexible schedules allowed them to prioritize getting the house into shape. “Each project presented itself as the most urgent at the time, and we would just go off that,” explains Mat. “But while we were taking care of the necessities, Colby was also creating an entire flagstone patio out of leftover materials that the person who owned the place before us had left behind.”
This combination of improvements that were simultaneously practical and aesthetic, from trimming back the beautiful but overgrown garden to repainting, allowed the couple to whip the house into to shape in just a matter of months. What seemed like problems turned out to be opportunities, like a flooded kitchen that turned into a gut renovation, transforming an old-fashioned, crowded cooking space into a clean, minimalist and practical kitchen. “The whole experience was like living in an HGTV show, but with a lot more microwaved burritos,” quips Mat.