It was a natural progression for Sarah Carpenter and Chris Horger to bring their cozy yet minimal Brooklyn aesthetic to a weekend Catskills home in Olivebridge, NY. As founders of Carpenter & Mason — an architectural design firm focusing on restaurant and hospitality spaces — the couple spends tons of time on construction sites during the workweek, so they decided to tackle as much as possible in their 1965 Upstate home themselves.
“We knew that we would renovate any house we chose, so the small things mattered less to us,” notes Sarah, who is also an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation. “We were hoping for an ugly house on a great property, and this perfectly fit the bill!” Their hands-on attitude allowed the couple to test out materials, techniques, and colors they had been eyeing as potentials for hospitality projects. When something didn’t quite work, they’d just redo it. “The bedroom was painted five times, which we know sounds insane,” Sarah jokes, “But after you’ve already painted something three times, you cannot bring yourself to stop if you aren’t totally happy with the result.” Always improving, future plans include a raised garden, fire pit, and sauna, but after a year of manual labor Sarah and Chris are just glad to spend comfortable weekends relaxing — for now.
Also on the punchlist is the 1930s Sears Catalog cabin still standing on the property, which previous owners had constructed for summer visits. “We decided not to touch the catalog cabin until we made significant progress on the main house, so it’s still a complete time capsule/house for spiders,” Sarah says. But the main house contains only the necessities, where their pared-down belongings all have a designated place, so Sarah and Chris didn’t have to spend much time brainstorming storage solutions. “In general, our aesthetic leans towards the minimal, but it also just makes sense for this particular house — we knew that we didn’t want to spend our weekends cleaning,” Sarah shares.
Spending the past winter with friends napping in front of the fire, drinking whiskey on the porch, making pies in the kitchen, and curling up with dogs on the couch made all the hard work worthwhile. —Annie
Photography by Reid Rolls