After renting for about four years post college, we made the plunge and bought our first place- a charming english cottage style coop in the Hudson Valley.
We lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts for three years while Will was in law school, then moved to New York in 2012. We rented for a year in Hastings-on-Hudson (a commuter Rivertown 30 minutes north of Manhattan) to get our feet wet and see how we liked the area. We fell in love with the historic Hudson Valley and with a buyers market and historically low interest rates, we knew it was time to settle and find a home.
After endless months of searching, we ended up at the beginning with one of the first places we fell in love with. We really wanted a house and a yard, but this coop was too good to pass up. Will’s apiary, vibrant vegetable garden, and backyard chickens will just have to wait a little longer.
In August, we happily moved into our 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1400 sqft coop. It was a fierce and long process (or so it felt like) between the coop and mortgage paperwork, but thankfully all parties involved were competent and kind. Coops are a little more complicated to purchase, being that it’s sort of a transaction between three parties instead of two. Coop board has to approve the buyer and the bank has to like the coop’s financials. Thankfully all seemed to be in order and the process was tied-up within a two month period.
To see detailed photo captions, simply hover over the photo with your cursor or click the photo to enlarge.
The building footprint is a giant “H” shape, with a front courtyard and back courtyard, with a slight elevation shift at the halfway point. This is due to the naturally sloping land that often accompanies being so close to the Hudson River. The building, originally built in the 1930s, has unobstructed views of the river, with stunning night-time views of the city to the south and Tappanzee bridge to the north- not to mention the imposing palisades to the west.
To prepare for the move, Will and I completed numerous DIY projects. After making such a LARGE purchase, we felt like being prudent and sought to save money where possible- a philosophy which should always serve well. For the coop, we did all of the painting (master bedroom went from dark green to light grey, spare bedroom from yellow to light/cool lilac, and downstairs living room from off white to an aged beige). Everything else stayed light and bright! For allergen purposes, we also ripped out the carpet in the bedroom. The ripping part was quite easy- pulling out over one thousand staples from solid oak- not so much. Otherwise, the previous owner had renovated the 1980s unit in 2012, so the kitchen, bathrooms, and electric were all up to date.
There’s still a number of items we want to cross off of our list before we can call our home complete. For starters, the entire second bedroom needs to be resolved. Also, the front hall seems bare and is begging for either a collage of framed pictures or a hand painted mural. I have a vision of painting a victorian-esque tree and branch mural with birds and a few blossoms. So far I’ve either been too lazy or intimidated, but for once we have our own walls to do with as we please! The downstairs half bath could also use some character, and an interesting wallpaper could look great above the chair rail. I love nearly every wallpaper from Anthropology (see examples to the right).
The projects we have completed so far have been pretty easy, and I recommend learning how to reupholster to anyone willing to try. All you need is a base (Home Depot will do simple cuts for you with wood or mdf), foam and/or batting (I even reused an old mattress topper), staple gun, and material of your choice (Joann Fabric has a decent selection and is always running 40% off coupons). It does help to know how to pull the fabric when stapling, however. You stretch the fabric like a canvas (starting on the middle of each side and working your way out with opposing tension- watch a youtube video or two). So far, we’ve done the cane bench, two leather chairs (pulling and re-using the original studs was not that easy, however), dining room benches and chairs, and repurposed ottoman in the living room. We also painted (spray paint, we used all purpose Rustoleum from Home Depot, about $4 a can) the coffee table and bureau, and refinished a side table. It’s hard to point out anything in our home that we bought “new”, and we love the character of all the pieces we’ve accumulated. Plus, as they say, they just don’t make things like the used to (see Ikea wardrobe in bedroom- it’s practically solid cardboard).
The Hudson Valley is a beautiful place to live and offers the unique ability to be a part of a historic, small town while still having access to the city. Sleepy Hollow is only 20 minutes north of us, and we love to hike the Rockefeller land on weekends, stepping back in time amongst century old trees and stone bridges and walls. We like to think that Hastings is one of the best kept secrets, but after two town profiles in the New York Times, this small town may eventually just become an extension of the city itself- but hopefully not for a long time!
Side note: Did anyone spot at least one cat in almost every room photo above? That was not on purpose- they just like to follow you everywhere. I would shoot one photo, and turn my camera two seconds later for an entirely different frame and BAM- cat would be there again (see bedroom photos above).