We Bought a Home!

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Design*Sponge: Grace & Julia's New (Old) Home, The "Before" Photos
Last Friday, Julia and I packed up our tiny car with as many essentials as we could fit and we drove upstate to sign the contract on our new home! It’s tempting to insert about 10,000 exclamation points here, but I’ll leave it at this: the process taught us a lot about patience, the emotional nature of buying (and selling) a home and how much you have to leave things to fate to see how they turn out. But after all was said and done, we are both thrilled (and scared and excited!) to call this incredible old house our home.

Earlier this year, after spending a lot of time in and around the Catskills for vacation and our honeymoon, we decided to consider looking for a home upstate. We planned on casually looking, but what happened was a (wonderful) whirlwind that led to our dream home. After seeing a promising listing, we called an agent who was highly suggested by our friends and drove upstate with Julia’s family to look around. We saw five houses the first day, and the fifth ended up being the home we would eventually call our own. It needs a lot of love and some work, but we can’t wait to get started. (Read on for the full story, photos and the history of our over 150-year-old home) xo, grace

  1. Carla says:

    What a fun post. Thanks for sharing!

    I’d love to see another post just on the attic and basement, the creepy stuff where all the fun secrets hide.

    Are the wood floors throughout the house the same wood? I love rustic floors with gauges and imperfections. A good sander and some stain and a non-toxic top coat will create such a beautiful feeling of everything making sense together.

    I just love this new home of yours.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      hi carla

      yep, those pictures will come ;)

      the floors are different in sections. we plan on unifying them down the road, but not any time soon.


  2. Mary Beth says:

    Congrats! the home is beautiful and I hope you’ll take us through the decorating process for years to come. Love those windows in the kitchen and the sink with the chubby legs in the bath. Maybe some beautiful candle sticks inside the main living room fireplace until it gets repaired! So excited for you both – or 3 :)

  3. Oh my gosh!! This is awesome!! Congratulations to you both – what a beautiful house, I can’t wait to see what you do with it. We moved out to the semi-country three years ago – while this city girl was skeptical, we now love it so much that we can’t imagine moving back into the city (although we do visit it, often :). Our move was unfortunately due to very unpleasant circumstances and the process of selling our beloved apartment and buying a new home in a different town with less than a month to spare was almost debilitatingly stressful, but experiencing a new town, new neighbours, and a total appreciation of the peace, beauty and GREEN-ness is simply wonderful. Our dog Panda wouldn’t have it any other way – Hope is going to love it :) Congratulations again, and the only advice I would share (because you guys are pros and even if you weren’t, it’s your home and you two know how make it your own) is to do some living in it – up to a year or more, before taking on anything major (that isn’t an emergency of course). Get to know its quirks, and get to know how you use it through each season – and enjoy dreaming up your plans. That’s half the fun right there :) ENJOY!!

  4. Casey says:

    Welcome, welcome, WELCOME! Wishing you and Julia that absolute best in this adventure! Hopefully we’ll catch you all in person some time now that we’re neighbors. Well, neighbors in that country sense, haha!

  5. It has so much potential! That pool…the windows…oh my. You’re going to have a wonderful time working on it. Congratulations!

  6. Erin F says:

    Curious….will you keep a NYC apt or live upstate and commute? Starting to consider what life would be like to buy outside of nyc. could a nyc life still be had if you are an hour or so away ?

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Hi Erin,a

      We’re keeping our Brooklyn apartment for a year and then making a decision. The drive is 2 hours so it’s not too bad, but it’s not ideal for an every day commute either.


  7. Sally says:

    It’s gorgeous! Congratulations. It looks as though it has lovely light. I;m looking forward to seeing more of the house and garden over time. How exciting for you.

  8. KD says:

    Congratulations! Great house, fantastic possibilities. Have fun (:

  9. Janice says:

    I ended up at your blog via FB, and can’t wait to see your house adventures. We just bought a farmhouse in PA with SO many of the same features and challenges you and Julia have here. I would love to know where you source things as you “give some love” to your house. There are lots of places in my area here but I am always on the lookout for more shops and salvage places. (And if you are ever in the Brandywine Valley outside of Philly, I’m happy to share the names of some great places!) Best of luck!

  10. brigitte says:

    congrats a million times over — it’s just a perfect home… wishing you so many years of happy days there!

  11. Katy Gilmore says:

    Oh Congratulations Grace – what a wonderful, wonderful house! You will have such a good time – and how perfect to get the key to the heart-shaped lock at this holiday season! What a grand adventure – I wish you both much joy. It’s a lucky house to have such talented owners – a happy house!

  12. sara says:

    Love the house congratulations!!! I only hope you re-think screening in that entire porch.

  13. Frances says:

    Congratulations!!! I can’t wait to follow the story of your home. The windows and light are so beautiful and I am a big fan of big porches as well. You are living the Dream!

  14. Frances says:

    PS- Get a kitty cat and that will take care of the mice.

  15. Tracy says:

    Love this place!!! Any chance you know the color of the front door? Looks like the same color we just painted the exterior of our house- Ben Moore “Warm Springs”….Cant wait to see the next round of photos.

  16. c says:

    congratulations! this home is absolutely STUNNING! what an ideal ‘blank canvas’ to work with. enjoy!

  17. Congratulations, Grace and Julia!!! It’s such a beautiful old home, and the yard & pool look incredible! I can’t wait to see what you do with it, I know it will be beautiful and so very you. My husband and I are in the process of buying a new-to-us very old house, too! We close at the end of January. Isn’t it so exciting to have all of that space?!


  18. Holly says:

    What a lovely home! I noticed a baseboard heating system that looks similar to what is in an older home we recently purchased – do you mind sharing if it is electric baseboard or a boiler heat radiator type system? If it’s the boiler system, I’m curious to know if you will leave the current baseboard radiators. Thanks!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      hi holly

      it’s electric, so we need to leave these. they can’t be replaced for older radiator styles if that’s what you mean?


  19. Alicia says:

    Congratulations! I am so excited for y’all! Just wanted to say that I hope you won’t feel any pressure to rush any part of the process for the sake of blog content. I know you didn’t purchase the house for that reason – I just mean that I hope you won’t let your readers’ curiosity make you feel rushed at all! People will be thrilled to see your progress whenever it comes. I think some blogs let their readers’ demands to see progress in their personal homes (maybe YHL?) take a toll on them and rob them of the joy of taking their time and making thoughtful decisions. Of course your blog is very different since it doesn’t rely on content like that… Just throwing it out there!

  20. Tara Mangini says:

    GUYS! Just catching up with the internet world after a few weeks of being a bum. So excited to hear this news! The house is wonderful and you guys will make it perfect. Can’t wait to watch your progress. If you ever need a hand, let us know! x

  21. Rebecca says:

    Love your house! I haven’t been to your blog for a little while and it was great to come across the new design and the exciting news. Can’t wait to see how home ownership will influence the blog!

  22. Kerry says:

    I’ve been reading since almost the very beginning and I can’t wait to see what you do with the place. :) Just bought a nearly 100-year-old house myself and getting it safe and sound has been interesting! Wishing you all the best!

  23. Melina says:

    What a wonderful time you both with have. I am so happy for you and Julia. That porch, the kitchen (yowza for sure on that copper surface!!!), those windows….. and a claw foot tub… sigh.

    Cannot wait to witness the reno adventures you’ll have. Your mind must be swimming with inspiration and priorities!

  24. Hi Grace
    Welcome to the neighbourhood! I saw your new home listing on the realtor’s Pinterest board and thought it had wonderful potential. How great that you will be giving this home so TLC.

  25. What an amazing house! Grace, I must say I haven’t been to your blog in a while, but I popped back to see where you were at and what a change! You site looks beyond amazing and I love that we’re seeing/reading more of the personalities behind Design Sponge. You are a very strong woman and such an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing with us! Cannot wait to hear more about the house!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      thanks moran :)


  26. Jill says:

    This is a beautiful post. Good for you for taking on the old house challenge. My partner and I bought an 1853 brick beauty in Vermont about six months ago. It is awesome to own and of course there’s so much to learn…I never knew I’d be so interested in heating systems, R-value, proper drainage…we just finished renovating the kitchen and a big one for us was putting in a wood stove, which has become the total magnet in the house. Expensive, yes, but SO worth it. Congratulations again and I plan on checking in a lot as it’s so much fun to see someone else going through a similar experience.

  27. Carrie says:

    Welcome to Ulster! My husband and I (both media freelancers) made the move from NYC to Accord full time in February. We bought a cottage and have been doing renovations little by little too. If you need a great plumber or contractor let me know! Enjoy the house and congrats!

  28. Chris says:

    I have to say…the retro pic up top is AMAZING. Congratulations and lots of happiness, health and great times in your new home.

  29. Anne says:

    Amazing! I’m so excited to see what you are going to do with it!

  30. Mary Beth says:

    OMG Grace! I’m freaking out for you! This is super amazing and I am so so excited for you and Julia to have this beautiful home to call your own. Can’t wait to read about the updates to come. :)

  31. Lily B says:

    Your new home is breathtaking! The acres upon acres of windows, the pool, the grounds…just lovely! Congratulations to you both!

  32. Dana McClure says:

    I’m so late to this post! Congrats Grace! You guys are our neighbors. How excited you must be and what a gorgeous place to call home. Scrolling through the pics, it just kept getting better… the pool, the light filled kitchen, the 5! bedrooms – couldn’t help but think of all the memories waiting to be made in such a special place. It was April when we bought our place in Olivebridge 5 years ago and a Japanese Plum blossom (that only blooms for 1 week) was in full bloom. It now marks each new year we’ve been here. I bet you’re excited to see your new place when Spring rolls in. Enjoy every minute of it! (and don’t hesitate to reach out for some local resources) ~ Dana

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      thanks dana! hope to see you guys around :)


  33. Julie Wylie says:

    Just seeing these first photos of your home, and I’m in love! This home is absolutely gorgeous, with so much character + awesome history! Also, that pool really IS a dream! You are going to have so much fun fixing up this beauty and making it your own, I can already tell. Congratulations!

  34. Amazing! I’m so excited to see what you are going to do with it! Love the house congratulations!!! I only hope you re-think screening in that entire porch…

  35. Kelly says:

    Your house is absolutely lovely, a dream and will bring you years of love. Your suggestions sound great, just clean, repair and give a coat of fresh paint. I can see some renovations to come, but what a great house, you will make it beautiful.

  36. Elizabeth says:

    Congrats! Pool area reminds me of Martha Stewarts Turkey Hill home. She had 2 glorious wisteria trees flanking the steps going down to the pool…spectacular! You should google it, just to get some ideas. :-) enjoy your home


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