Vintage Gems Decorate This Cozy Farmhouse in the Catskills
Joseph Maine dreamed of returning to his country roots and buying an old-time farmhouse. Until, that is, he began looking at the options. "You're looking at the baseboards and thinking, Will this ever actually feel clean? And the doorframes are super small, and the bedrooms sometimes don't have closets and can't fit a king-size bed," he says.
So when he found a modular home built in 2007 in New York's Catskills region that was modeled on an 1800s farmhouse—one that coupled traditional touches like a wraparound porch and hardwood plank floors with modern proportions and infrastructure—he was sold.
Spared the work of renovating an old house, Joseph focused instead on giving the newer house the sense of history he craved. "It's so nice having double-pane windows, but I missed some of the farmhouse details, so I really tried to bring in old and vintage things anywhere I could."
To do that, he pulled from the collection of secondhand furniture, artwork, knickknacks, and other items he gathered and stashed in a storage unit during the years he lived and worked in New York City, dreaming of the house he would one day own.
The siding is pigmented fiber cement panels made with recycled materials. Joseph refinished the porch floor and steps to give them a weathered, old-house look. Fresh cut branches anchored with rocks in a sap bucket are easy, high-impact decor.
Joseph wanted this home in Livingston Manor to feel steeped in the hamlet's local color. He brought in artwork and accessories that honor the area—including a photo of the 1965 high school graduating class and depictions of deer and waterfowl that nod to the region's long history as a spot for hunting and fishing.
To up the drama and architectural interest in a boxy living room, Joseph added an ornate wood mantelpiece from the early 1900s that he found at a salvage shop and painted jet-black. He layers art that shares similar sepia tones into the mantel display.
Rugged furniture, including weathered leather poufs and an antique schoolhouse table (its legs sawed down to coffee table height), create a warm atmosphere. The low-pile velvet sofa is cushy-soft and low-maintenance. Two-tone upholstery—leather and windowpane plaid wool—on a plush chair is unexpected and handsome.
With the exception of the tiling work, Joseph did all the improvements himself, including refinishing a clawfoot tub in the bathroom and replacing the porch floor's original thick polyurethane finish with a lighter, less protective layer that allows it to look weathered. Using nostalgic patterns, like checks and plaids, and rustic textures and materials, he created a comfortable, welcoming retreat.
"Working on this house gave me such a sense of peace—it really felt like my meditation time, a chance to take my mind off everything I was doing in the city," Joseph says. "And when I was done and had friends come over, and they told me they felt instantly at home and appreciated how easy it is to use the space—how well-thought-out it is—that made me feel so good."
Replacing the upper cabinets with open shelving and swapping a blocky island for a lighter wood piece on legs add country character and make the kitchen feel more spacious. With its open shelf, the island worktable, an Etsy find, makes accessing pots and pans easy. Joseph pieced together his collection of enamelware from thrift stores and yard sales. Charcoal grout puts a rustic spin on the tile's herringbone pattern.
To maximize the small dining space, Joseph chose a bench, which seats more people, and visually airy mesh metal chairs. He had the length of the pendants shortened so they wouldn't block the windows. Antique foundry lights continue a mossy green thread throughout the house. Textiles like sheepskin throws and leather cushions make industrial furniture look and feel friendlier.
Throughout the house, Joseph kept this goal in mind: warming up the space without overcrowding it. In the main bedroom, he countered heavy pieces, like the apothecary-style dresser, with open ones, like the shelving. A display of hats works as artful storage against walls painted with Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore.
Joseph painted the guest room walls a mossy green (Farrow & Ball Lichen) after what he says was a "disastrous" attempt at covering them in fabric. "It's a fairly bold color, but I think in a small space it's fun to play the color up and make it really cozy."
He used inexpensive bamboo shades in every room. Sizing them to fit inside the window frames gives them a clean look. A Pendleton wool blanket and rope-accented light set an outdoorsy mood.