Interiorssneak peeks

Updates Around Our House Part 1+ The Big Move

by Grace Bonney

Last week’s post about the way we talk to each other online generated more deep and substantive conversation than I could have ever hoped for. Not only did I feel like I got to know so many of you better, I also got to hear more about what you’d like to see (and not see) from us here at DS. Those comments and heartfelt emails inspired us to do a few things. First, we’re launching two new columns here designed to further embrace — and give visibility to — the ups and downs of creating a home. One will focus on readers’ homes and how we can help each other through tough spots and another will focus on professional designers and how we can learn just as much from their mistakes and challenges as their triumphs. We’re working on interviews now, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, I heard your desire to see a more balanced representation of homes here on the site. We’re currently emailing hundreds of new people in a wide range of places and stages of life, but today I wanted to start with the most personal place of all (for me): our home upstate. I figured that if I want us all to be more comfortable with sharing the good and bad parts of our house online, I should start with my own.

Before I jump into our work so far, the biggest news around our house is this: Julia and I have decided to move upstate full-time! After almost four months of living here part-time we can’t believe how much happier we are. For me, I don’t think I realized how much living in the city affected me until we left. I breathe more easily. I snap less. I relax more. I take better care of myself and the people (and pets) I love. Living in New York City felt to me like being given the greatest gift with an expiration date. A part of me always knew I would move away at some point, when I was ready to let go of the fear of missing out, the pace, the competition and the “idea” of being at the center of everything. I still think New York is the most exciting and inspiring place to live, but my priorities changed and I know that everything I need is right here at home with me. So today I’m excited to welcome you into our home and share some of the things we’ve been working on so far. These photos aren’t professionally styled, altered or photographed. They’re what I snapped around the house this morning with my phone and represent how we live at home these days. xo, grace

*This post will share photos of downstairs and outside. Stay tuned for a peek upstairs later this week.

Okay, let's start outside. This was the exterior of the house when we first saw it last fall. Shortly after we moved in we got our first snowstorm, so not much has changed here. Except for one small thing...
We added a door knocker! Julia gave me this sweet dog doorbell/knocker and we both think it looks a bit like Hope. We drilled this in and then immediately sealed the door for the whole winter.
One of our biggest investments immediately upon move-in was having a fence built. It's been our shared dream to just be able to open the door and let Hope run around and it was worth every penny. It also keeps Hope safe from any roaming critters outside and some of the area dogs that aren't always on-leash or good with other dogs (pretty common in the country).
This is what it looks like now. It's all starting to melt, but we had a solid three feet of snow in the backyard all winter. Hope dug little paths through the yard that looked like runways.
Let's head inside. This is the mudroom/entryway to the kitchen that we use every day. This was how we found it, with the original owner's furniture (she took this with her).
This is our drop zone for everything, so it's a bit of a mess right now. But we picked up an antique bench from our local affordable antiques hero, Ron Sharkey, to hold books, plants and other odds and ends. I'm planning on refinishing that chair (that currently holds my potting supplies) and finding a new home for that mirror on the right- it just doesn't work there. The colonial piece hanging belonged to my Dad and the lighting is from Schoolhouse Electric.
We haven't done much to the other side of the mudroom yet, save for hanging some watercolored pictures of our family (me, Julia and the pets) by Alessandra Olanow and Anne Watkins on the walls. I want to wallpaper and paint this space at some point.
This was our kitchen when we moved in. This addition was built 15 years ago, so nothing really needed to change. We decided to buy the table and chairs from the previous owner because they worked so well. She sold the full set for $400, so we took her up on it.
The kitchen, before. The only thing we changed in here was the paint color and we created more open shelving, which is more practical for the way we use the kitchen.
The current kitchen/dining room. We had a banquette bench made (over the heaters, hence the screening) to make the most of the amazing wall of windows. I hired a seamstress to create the striped cushions for the top and found the pillows on Etsy. The light is also from Etsy. The lunch sign is an antique piece from Julia's family that we still haven't found the right spot for...TBD.
The only change here from the photos we showed in our main before & after post of the kitchen is that I'm looking for a new rug here. My beloved Iranian runner is now upstairs in our hallway. I've always used nice rugs in the kitchen, but now that our kitchen is right next to the entrance to the yard (mud city!), it's just too much to have to deep clean the rug over and over to get the mud out. We don't wear our shoes inside, but Hope tracks mud everywhere now...
This was our den (next to the kitchen) when we moved in. It's a smaller, dark room (original to the 1850s footprint of the house), which we both sort of loved. We knew it would make the perfect cozy TV room.
This is what it looks like now. We tried to paint the beams ourselves but after 2 gallons, a full day and only 1/3 covered, we gave up and hired painters to spray it. Then the walls got a coat of grey paint. We got our dream corner sofa from Lee Sofa and ordered the same rug we use and swear by in Brooklyn, it's a Dash & Albert indoor/outdoor rug. The trunk is Julia's vintage piece, as are both lamps on the right. The small side table was from Julia's Mom's office.
The biggest expense in this room was hiring the same amazing woodworker, Jack of Vernacular Design, who made our open shelving in the kitchen to create this faux-denza for us. Faux-denzas are one of the main blogging trends I totally give into. They hide cords and clutter and are easy to clean under- must-haves for us. We bought the IKEA cabinets and Jack cut four pieces of walnut for the top and sides. More on that piece later...
Not much has changed in the hallway right now, but we're hoping to paint and spackle this area soon. We did change out the overhead light (it was a boob light) to one of these and we also added a print by Luke Edward Hall. Then I shoved my favorite tiny twig table in the corner (I found it at Erie Basin in Brooklyn years ago) with a big fern to hide the spackling I need to do.
The pets approve of the new couch situation.
The hallway before. These wood floors in this area need to be redone, but that probably won't be a priority for a few years. For now, we focused on paint.
Max and I worked together to repaint and create a DIY stair runner so Hope could go up the stairs. The fresh paint really lightened things up. I also changed out the light switch and added a cute decoupage egg-print from John Derian's shop. We're going to be hanging a HUGE collection of old egg prints that belonged to Julia's family in the hallway upstairs so I thought this light switch could be a little preview of what was to come.
It's REALLY hard to photograph our tiny downstairs bathroom, but you can see more photos Max took here. The only difference is that I found a vintage mirror to hang, thanks to Daniel's keen eye. He spotted one at Outdated in Kingston and we drove over to snag it- and a tea.
Our downstairs essentially has three living rooms, two of which are original to the 1850s footprint and one that was added probably around the late 1980s. This view looks from the second of the older rooms (the other older room is the one with the painted beams) and the only thing we did here was hire a contractor to open up the doorway so it wasn't so teeny tiny. It made a HUGE difference in how much light both rooms get.
This is the room now. We also painted the ceiling white to try to make it feel a bit taller. The ceilings are very low in here (even for me, at 5 feet tall) and we wanted to try to open it up a bit. We don't have any furniture to put in here, so this room will be empty for the foreseeable future. We hope to turn it into a library/work room down the road.
This is the other entry door in the living room that was added in the 80s. It's also the room that has the fireplace. This door is a hollow interior door, so we went over to Zaborski's in Kingston to snag a heavier exterior door ($100) to replace it. The plan is to paint the door and probably the window trim black or dark grey.
Here's our vintage door find. $100 and all it needs is a coat of glossy black paint. I'm excited because it will let some more light into the room, too. Eventually we'll want a storm glass door in front of this, but that's a while off for now.
Our house was originally listed with a working fireplace, but we found out it was damaged and unsafe to use during inspection. We were lucky to be able to convince the owner to drop the price of the house to cover the renovation, so we did that this winter when it became clear that heating the house with propane would be too expensive in the long run. So we invested in having a wood-burning stove installed. I'll show more of this room soon, but it's part of a bigger project we're doing on the site, so I can't show too much right now. The rug is a vintage Brimfield find and the puzzle is our weekend obsession. (The fireplace will eventually be painted white on the outside and black inside- but we have to wait a month for the mortar to cure).
Last but not least, this is our downstairs laundry/tool room that's between the kitchen and the fireplace room. It was the home's original kitchen/bar (it used to be a guest house) and frankly we just kind of shut the door in here. It's not going to be in our budget to make-over for a while, so we're happy to just use it as-is right now. It also serves as Turk's litter box hiding room, so I'm just thrilled and thankful to not have that in our bedroom anymore.

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  • Grace, your home is just beautiful and it really sounds like you and your family absolutely love it. I admit I have high hopes of winding up in a similar place (although in the midwest), and am more than a little jealous! I’m very excited to keep up on your updates. This is my favorite post in my past (5?!) years of reading Design*Sponge. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Not gonna lie—as a Greenpointer I’m a little saddened to see y’all go, but so excited for you both on your new journey. Does this mean D*S no longer has an office space?

    Love seeing the progress you’ve made so far and can’t wait to see where you go with the rest of the house! (oh and if you’re looking to sell your apartment-size Dash and Albert rug… *wink wink nudge*)

    • Hi Joanna!

      We haven’t had an office for a while now (we announced our yard sale and moving out on the blog last year) and kind of love it that way. I’m a home body and since Max and I were the only full-time editorial staffers, we liked working from home so we could both go back and forth between Brooklyn and upstate.

      Grace :)

  • Dear Grace and Julia,

    Congratulations on your decision to move full time to the country! i come and go here at DesignSponge depending on my life demands, but always find grace and charm here. Thank you for sharing your home and life with us in such a humble manner. Your remodel seems guided with careful thought and taste that suits this house admirably. Looking forward to seeing it unfold.

    And I love that puzzles are your weekend obsession. As a child in the snowy midwest we always had a winter 1000 piece jigsaw going on a cardtable in the basement bwteen the washer/ dryer and the pingpong table. Now I live in what seems to be perpetual summer in Caliornia and never make time for puzzles. That must change.

    When do we get to see your basement? is it too spooky?

  • Grace, thank you so much for sharing your home! It is beautiful and I have enjoyed watching you curate items for your home on Instagram. With your move, what will your commute look like? Will you go into the city to work with your team or will you work remotely?

    • Hi Paige!

      Our team has worked remotely for the past year and really loves it. So I won’t have a commute- just down into the living room or at the kitchen table. I feel very, very lucky about that.


  • grace, what a beautiful home you two have created! no one could deserve it more. it is amazing how much nature allows one to breathe. hope and turk will love the yard, my pups do…welcome to muddy feet!

  • Congrats on the big move, Grace, and thanks for sharing your home with us! I love getting a peek into other people’s homes, even if they aren’t my style (although yours definitely is!) Looking forward to following your adventures in home-ownership and seeing the new additions to the blog.

  • Exciting! Sounds like a good move. I love what you did to the kitchen….it really seems a lot brighter! I am SOOOO sad you painted the wood beams in the TV room white tho! :(

    • Sierra

      I know, that was a hard choice. We decided to paint based on a few factors:

      1. The beams were in BAD shape. We had them checked out and to have them properly sanded, sealed and to remove all old nails and screws would have cost a small fortune. We just didn’t have the budget for that and they were a mess to leave as is (they’re stained and uneven- not like you’d want for exposed beams).

      2. The stained wood really made the room feel dark and low. As much as I love the coziness, I didn’t want to feel like that room was so different and so much darker than the rest. This color (although down the line I’d love to paint these a softer color more in line with the walls so they blend in, rather than stand out) really opens up the space.


  • Yay! I’ve been looking forward to an update on your home! I’ve really enjoyed the peeks on Instagram, but it’s so great to see how it all flows together. I absolutely love all the colors and materials you’ve chosen, and I think it’s great you are staying true to the character of the home while still adding some personal design touches.
    I totally understand your feeling about leaving NYC as well. I moved from NYC to Portland around 4 years ago, and while I love going back to visit friends and favorite restaurants, I have zero regrets about leaving. Congrats again, and I can’t wait to see the upstairs! :)

  • This is a fabulous post, and congrats on all the great work you have done so far in transforming your home, but mostly on the brave decision to make it permanent. I moved from London in December to the Yorkshire countryside to do up our new home, an 1875 miners cottage, and to change my pace of life. I have not once regretted my decision, and nor have all our animals it has to be said! I feel as though I have been reborn and life is as it should be now, and it sounds as though you’ve had a similar epiphany. And I appreciate London so much more now when I have to visit for work, I feel like I have the best of all worlds! Looking forward to hearing more about your renovations (and happy to offer my house up for advice from your readers, struggling to decide on future layouts right now given that it was once two houses). xx

  • Hi Grace,

    Thanks for sharing your home with everybody. It’s really, really nice to see things in progress, and to see how many family treasures and collections are going to be a part of your home. I’m at the point in my life where my taste is a little grander than my budget, but I’m really enjoying using the things I have and making things to fill in the gaps so that I love my home.

    Are you accepting applications for home tours? I’d like to participate and show our cozy little montréal ground floor rental. It hardly feels finished, but we love our home.

    • hi emily!

      thanks- and yes! we are always accepting submissions. you can use the form on our contact page or email us pics at SUBMISSIONS AT DESIGNSPONGE DOT COM :)


  • Your house is looking great! And congrats on the decision to move there full time. NYC is one of my favorite places but I too got tired of the rat race and the “production” that comes with living there. We live waaay upstate (Western NY) and while there are things I miss about big city living, the quieter, easier lifestyle (and more affordable housing) is key. We’ve just started our search for our first house and your big project is a constant source of inspiration. Looking forward to hearing more about it and reading the new columns you have coming up!

  • This post was so fun to see the transformations of your home! I can’t wait to see upstairs. P.s. your rug game is on point!

    xo Ashley

  • I think that one of the reasons that D*S stays fresh is that you change with the times and D*S reflects that change. And it’s so beyond trend A or trend B. Like you note above how people want to see different life stages reflected in your posts, your transparency about your own changes (business and personal) make for an interesting and relatable read.

    For me it gets back to why I read who I read – I like knowing (as much as we can know online, eh?) the person behind the article/design/recipe/opinion. I don’t want to just know facts, I want that other part too – I want the personal side of it.

    Anyhow, congrats on the move! Such a gorgeous home…

  • Dear Grace,

    Thank you for your long post last week and for the attempt to take us in the direction of stories that take us through design decisions. I am in the last phases of rebuilding an old house – prior to starting on the ‘finishings’ and have been reading your and other blogs for years to learn from the cracks of stories about the decisions that others made and didn’t make. I fell in love with the British show “grand designs” for the same reason: they take the viewer/reader through the process of construction and facilitate the decision-making process in a way that is hard to do without an example. Whether or not I would build or buy the homes myself, I have learned from the experience of their being built.

    I have to say, though, that despite receiving from a family member a completed grand designs application form, I didn’t apply; I didn’t want to put my personal finances or choices under scrutiny in the way that the participants do there – to millions of viewers if one includes YouTube.

    That said, in a forum such as this, where personal information can be managed better and where there is space to respond with clarifying information, more of us might be willing to open our processes up to others. Certainly, as I see windows going in, stone walls being uncovered and fireplaces being made usable again, I am excited about my experience and am more open to the possibility of sharing.

    If you would do some of the shielding through your moderation, I can imagine passing on some of the lessons I have learned from others and have confirmed (or not) myself…despite the risk of short sighted judgement.

  • What a fantastic post! I felt like you were walking me through the house and chatting as a friend. This is the beauty of a site like yours – the warmth, the charm, the bonding we do – even over the internet. Brava!

  • It looks amazing Grace! We’re also renovating a home built in the 1800s and it’s wonderful to see your progress and how you’re dealing with balancing the original details to making your home a comfortable space.

  • Wow congrats on the move! And thanks for sharing your gorgeous home. It seems like you’ve made a lot of progress in a nice amount of time! Where is that amazing rug in the den from??

  • I can’t believe you moved to my hometown, a place where my ancestors settled down in in the early 1940s, a place I went to high school, and lived and now my whole family is still there and I am in Seattle. And now I am done with city living, done with being so far away and yearning to return to a place I grew up in. I love how you have captured your home happiness! Congrats Grace!

  • I’m so happy for you both! Looks lovely. Question: will you both be retiring from your respective podcasts (After the Jump and Radio Cherry Bombe)? Not sure if the move impacts that.

    • Julie

      Thanks so much- and for your interest in our podcasts. We’re both picking them back up this spring, but will probably record them through different stations or outlets. We’re just not close enough to Roberta’s to commute every week, but we both miss recording and will be back soon…

      Grace :)

  • I have a faux-denza and didn’t even know that was a thing! I made mine using a very narrow 2-door IKEA cabinet, precisely for the purpose of hiding cords and the ease of cleaning underneath.

  • Your home is so lovely. Your recent kitchen renovation post actually inspired me to buy the Tibetan Jasmine color for our living room/kitchen area + I am so excited to paint! Our house is also really old (151 years!) and we’ve been in the process of fixing ours up for awhile now. Really love the natural light in your kitchen/dining area, especially those beautiful windows. That lunch sign is really cute too! Thanks for sharing these photos. Can’t wait to see more.

  • I’ve followed D*S from almost the beginning and have never commented before, but I was inspired to say thank you so much for this post! I moved into my 1920s house a year and a half ago and it is in a similar state to yours. I have only got as far as tackling 3 rooms so far, and although they are now more comfortable and are beginning to reflect my taste they are by no means finished yet. The list of things still to do is so overwhelming and sometimes when I see all the beautiful homes on D*S I feel that I will never get to that “finished” state. It is so refreshing to see an example of renovations in progress and it inspires me to keep at it, and one day I will be able to relax in a beautiful home that I have created. Thank you for sharing your home with us.

  • If you want to save a ton of heating check into the infared heaters. My family lives in an old farm house with the baseboard heating. They only have to fill up on oil, generally once for the winter, because the infared heaters do such a good job. Plus, they are safe so you don’t have to bother turning them off when you leave or go to sleep.

  • This is the BEST!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE to see the progress! So much more fun than just to see the ‘finished’ product. Although, i’m excited to see that too! Thanks for sharing with us Grace. Love your site and now love it even more. xo

  • I am loving your house updates! It looks so beautiful and I’m super excited for you! I love it so much! I’m really really loving what you’ve done so far, I’m super excited about your ‘fauxdenza’. I would never have thought to do that treatment in a corner, but it works! I have a corner tv nook and have been agonizing over what to put there so this is inspiration! I really really love the painted beams in that tv room as well. ALSO it’s so great to see the dog toy bin and dog bed, haha, real life is so much more beautiful then internet pretend life!

  • Grace + Julia,

    Your home is lovely! Thanks so much for inviting us in. I love seeing the progress and the thought process behind each decision.

    Scrolling through the photos above, my admiration can’t help but deepen for what you’ve accomplished and the vision you no doubt are creating for the rest. It feels like such a peaceful place, and one that will become as much a part of you as you become of it.

    One question: You’ve left Brooklyn — have you also left behind that wonderful pink couch and dining table? I could see the table fitting so well into your new library area. (What I wouldn’t give for a table with that much spreading-out elbow room!)

    I wish both of you the best as you continue on your amazing journey!!

  • I love this post and your home looks beautiful and creative! It is great to see images of before and after. Your dining room with all those windows is breathtaking! I would just sit there all the time :). I really like that images were not staged for photo shoot so I could see progress in renovation. Nothing wrong at all with making your space looking super nice for posting the images on the blog (I like seeing beautiful and creative spaces for my inspiration) but I can relate more to this since after living for years in the NYC, I too, have a huge wish to move somewhere upstate with my family, and will probably need to renovate. Since I don’t know any good spots maybe in your future posts you can mention a few upstate places which you like the most? Thanks so much for sharing!

    • hi mirna

      i’m happy to suggest spots, but upstate is a HUGE area, so if you have any counties or towns in particular, feel free to ask here :)


  • Absolutely love your home! Wish houses in the UK were more generous in size and less costly! I feel inspired by the transformation on your home-you did some much in short space of time! I love your staircase and currently working on mine stripping&sanding. With a toddler running around, it will take me about another week to finish, but I will be keen to share.

    • asha

      best of luck with your staircase! they’re a lot of hard work, but so worth it.

      i’m not sure what houses in the UK sell for, but we were blown away by the prices here- our entire house is less than our current rent in the city.


  • Yeay on the (full-time) move! A few short years ago I made the move from city to countryside (reluctantly though), but it has made a huge difference to my life and my perspective on life & its priorities – it really is a welcome change! Your place looks beautiful (and even more so after your makeovers) and I’m looking forward to more! :)

  • I’m on this journey with you guys! We must have closed right around the same time, we purchased a country home(coming from Newark, NJ). The roaming dogs are a real thing! And I’m with you on the propane heat, we have oil and actually plan to eventually get an electric heat pump(in addition to the pellet stove). Your home is looking great!!!

  • Grace and Julia,
    Great post. Thank you for inviting us in and sharing. You have been a daily read since just about the beginning. The house looks great. You have done a surprising amount of work on it in a relatively short amount of time. How genius of you to put the fencing in first thing? Hope is so well loved. And you will actually be able to have a garden!
    I have a puzzle love too. I was having a hard time with my cats (3 rescues) stealing the pieces. They are not good. A friend bought me a puzzle board that has drawers in it to hold the pieces as your working on puzzle. Now my cherubs cannot steal them. Just thought I would share that.

    • Nadine

      Oh no! Kitty thieves! Hope they return the pieces or at least find their correct places in the ufzzle ;)

      The fence was an investment we hadn’t budgeted properly (it was 5x what I expected it to be), but after we were informed by our neighbor that she had a dog who roamed off leash in our yard and wasn’t good with other dogs. That scared both of us so we decided to suck it up and invest in the fence now to keep Hope safe inside.


  • Hi Grace, I think you should consider affixing the “lunch” sign in your kitchen to the counter it’s currently leaning on. Who says it has to hang on a wall? It looks like it belongs there already ;)

  • What a life you and Julia have created for yourselves! The house and the progress thus far are beautiful and inspiring to behold. I can imagine how difficult it must be to move from a place that is too often considered the center of EVERYTHING, but it looks like you and Julia have created your own little world upstate with your lovely little family (hi, Turk & Hope!). Kudos to you both for making this leap. I so look forward to catching more glimpses of your lovely home.

  • I love the mature honesty coming through on Design Sponge over the last while. Thank you for modeling the courage it takes to show your house in it’s normalcy (falling between the professional styling and the token inauthentic “I am so not acting like my house is perfect, here let me show you my pile of laundry as proof of my normalcy” photos some lifestyle bloggers post). Lately as I read your posts and look at photos like these I find myself just breathing a sigh of relief and saying “Yes. Thank you.”

    • Susan

      Thanks so much. In the greatest irony ever, last night a skunk sprayed somewhere in or under our basement/foundation and as of 3am, everything you see pictured in this post (and upstairs) smells like the worst skunk smell ever. It’s awful :(


  • Bravo. Your house is lovely. I think it takes courage to showcase your house when you’re in the midst of projects. I’m a commercial interior designer and feel pressure sometimes when people are in my home. I want to say, don’t pay attention to the lighting in here or I know this room is kind of bare right now and unfinished. I’m so quick to point out the flaws, even though I love our home and am happy where we are. You feel like people have a level of expectation that it all needs to be perfect since you’re a designer, even though no one is probably thinking that! Kudos to you for showing off your beautiful home. I love what you’ve done.

  • Amazing progress!! I am living in a reno house at the moment, with so many different projects going on in different rooms, so seeing this made me feel like I’m not alone in the madness.

  • Congrats on the move! And thank you for sharing the ongoing progress of your beautiful house! As much as I love the “finished” projects/houses here on D*S, I love the progress shots just as much. Maybe I’m just a junkie for home improvement in general? ;) Anyway, thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

  • Hi Grace, it is so, so lovely to see these updates!! The house is looking gorgeous. I agree with those above who have mentioned how nice it is to see the progress as it’s unfolding. I can’t wait to see how it keeps going, especially this summer – will you be doing some gardening, and is there any work to be done on that dreamy pool? :)

    I bet Hope loves her fenced in yard so much – that dog sure is blessed to have found you (and I’m sure you’d say the same about having found her)!

    • emmy

      oh yes- there is much to be done around the pool. that said, we’ve kind of maxed out our budget, so i’m waiting to do major landscaping until NEXT summer. the previous owner planted things that aren’t my style, but that’s no reason to rip them out. i might see if i can do a plant swap with a local nursery or donate some of the things around the pool that i don’t like elsewhere down the road. but for now, i’m just thankful to have it all.


  • Such a great house! I’m so happy for you all. My parents have one of those wood stoves too. It is so cozy warm in the winter and has saved them tons of cash over the 30 years they have burned it.

    • Amanda

      That stove is worth its weight in gold. It’s brought our heating bill down from like $1100 a month to $300. We just had the house insulated with soy foam so hoping it will drop even more than that now.


  • Wow! Love all the changes you guys have made! I live in an old stone house from 1880 and have a bunch of old beams exposed- after seeing yours painted white, I think I might give it a go! Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Would also like to hear if/how you’re liking the wood stove and how it’s been managing/cleaning up after it.

    • Hi Jen!

      We love the stove- love it. I’m working on systems to spread the heat around better (our downstairs is pretty chopped up and the heat isn’t traveling as well as we’d hoped) with fans, etc, but it’s been easy to clean and handle. But I am admittedly a little obsessed with learning to be a good wood stove operator. I’ve watched countless tutorials and methods on Youtube and had our installer come back to make sure I was operating it correctly.


  • Thanks so much for showing your home as it is! Although I love interiors and have puts lots of effort into decorating our house, it is never photograph worthy tidy! It’s so nice to see that other people have boxes and bags lying around and that your coat hooks aren’t always perfectly styled! You’ve inspired me to get out the camera and actually take some pictures of our home and not put it off until it is somehow magically perfect! Thank you!

  • I just loved this post. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your home with real life in progress pictures. It reminds me of the now de-funct Young House Love and how they pieced rooms over time and on a budget that reflects most of us. (Not that I mind seeing a wide range of budget homes! From pennies to millions spent inspiration can be found anywhere on any budget.)
    All that to say, it’s nice to be a part of the journey with you and see a designer struggle with the rest of us with decisions on how to make a house more of a home. Look forward to more!

  • wow, this is such exciting news! as a country mouse myself, i can say i love living in a smaller town with a relaxed vibe . . . I actually find it easier to do my creative work b/c there isn’t a constant FOMO and loads of people doing what you do all around . . . there’s breathing space to really dig into your own brain. Congratulations!!

  • Grace, your upstate home with Julia is lovely. My husband is from upstate New York and it’s a beautiful part of the country.

    Thanks so much for your post; the timing for me is so helpful. I’ve spent the past five years raising two kids in downtown Chicago and I’m really struggling with the whole raise-city-kids-or-move-away decision. It’s stressful. I think your story of how you felt in each environment is going to help me a lot as I figure it out an decide if and when I can let the city go. So thank you, I will remember it, and I’m excited to see how you design your new home together!

  • Saw your interview with Marie Forleo. Awesome! Love your house and pictures. The “lunch” sign looks cute leaning on the cabinet peninsula in your kitchen. Why don’t you just mount it there?
    I look forward to seeing more as your house progresses.

  • oh Grace it looks so sweet, especially the now white kitchen! And love the entry overhead light, so muck sparkle and that big clear globe is awesome, I still lay in bed and stare at my one boob light!!! As fir the laundry room, indeed just shut the door for now, and I have installed a small pet door in my niw fully closed cellar door to allow my furry kids to get to their litter box- I swear by pet doors inside, any door left open a little is no good. The house looks so welcoming and I wish you two so much love and life to enjoy together! ✨

  • Julia and Grace –
    Spent the past 4 days with Ben at various times & places and heard about your move from him and your folks … So excited to see the photos and to know how happy you two are! Everything looks fabulous!! Can’t wait to see and hear more and to even spend a little time in person! Xoxo

  • How fun to see a real house in progress AND to see how you are living with pets! I love my dogs but it can be tricky to get them settled and still feel like you have a clean house. Email me if you need more french doors! I saw that find of yours and realized I have about 3 or 4 original finish/no paint doors in my garage from my 1929 craftsman style house. New England homes are funny, they would fetch a fair price for them if I lived in So Cal and here they just sit!

  • Hi Grace I was raised in West Hurley/Woodstock and then went to high school at John A Coleman in Kingston. I hope you enjoy living there. So many nooks and crannies to explore. Can’t wait to move back.

  • Hi Grace,

    Thanks so much for offering to help with suggestions on upstate locations! I really appreciate it! I was thinking to move somewhere in Putnam or Westchester county and still be relatively close to the City. I am in search for some place small with an artistic vibe :).

    Thank you!!!

  • I just have a question about the fence. It looks awesome, and it must keep Hope in, but the gaps look so big to me. It seems like other dogs would be able to get in. Are the gaps just smaller than they seem? Thanks so much for sharing. I always love seeing glimpses into your home. It’s especially wonderful to see what you do as you do it. What’s important to change right away, and what you are taking more time to do.

  • Hi Grace,

    I swooned a little at your mention of the Catalpa trees. I had a few in my yard for the 15 years that I owned a house. They were very old, 3-4 stories high, so regal and elegant, and every June for about 3 weeks they sent the most delicate white “popcorn” floating down past my windows into the yard. That’s what the floating flowers always made me think of, anyway. I hope you enjoy them as much! By the way, I saw you on Maria Forleo today (it was my first time hearing you speak) and I enjoyed the conversation SO MUCH. Congratulations and a happy new beginning to you and Julia.

  • I have been loving being a distant witness to this entire process on Instagram and to this site. I also am happy to hear a couple of the editorial changes to D*S you mention in this post and am looking forward to all of it. My husband and I just bought our first house (a small, 1903 cottage) and we are slowly making cosmetic changes as well as either thinking about or moving forward with construction projects. All of Design*Sponge has been very helpful to us, but especially the posts about your home. If you’re interested, you can take a peek at our own progress at The256Project.wordpress.com. Can’t wait to see more of what you do!

  • such a beautiful, happy place! (and, as a fellow New Yorker who’s moving away in the summer, i hear you on greatest gift/expiration date thing. best wishes for all of it!)

    a details question: i LOVE the wavy bathroom wallpaper — any idea where it’s from?

  • Hi Grace – I love your house and am so happy to share in your progress and the areas you decide to leave for now.

    It’s a very friendly gesture to show all the rooms, even the one you decided to close the door on for now. I sure have that room but only my closest friends see it. Thanks for including your DS-friends in yours!

  • Grace,
    Congrats on the big decision to move Upstate full time. Very happy for you both. You will love it! We haven’t looked back after doing the same 7 years ago (and the city is so close when you need a fix).

    Echoing others here who are praising the authenticity, honesty and generosity here at D*S of late. And kudos to you for showing us the snaps (and real-life budget concerns) of home ownership and evolution.

    PS. love the props you’re giving to Kingston!

  • It’s a beautiful home, I’m so jealous of all the space you have! I can’t wait to stop living in apartments and have a house to make my own.

    It’s funny, I’ve always been one of those “fear of missing out” people but I never thought of it in the context of where I live. This summer my boyfriend and I will be moving to Portland (back home yay!) and with the insane rise in rent we may have to live outside the city. It kills me to think that I won’t be in the thick of it, with friends and night life and hip everything everywhere, but when I really think about what I love to do and who I love to be around (i.e. improving my home and spending time relaxing with the love of my life) maybe living outside of the hubbub will be ok.

    Thanks for the new perspective Grace!

  • Thank you for listing the names of local businesses you’ve purchased from. We own a farm house from 1870 in the Hudson Valley and make a trip to Zaborski’s at least once a month. Started a list of other places to check out.

    • Colleen

      I can’t recommend Vernacular Design more highly. We love working with Jack and his work is fantastic. His work is beautiful and he’s always on time and on budget. I really appreciate that in any designer.

      We use EJ Fikar contracting for drywall, etc and we love him. He’s our go-to for jobs we can’t handle. We also use Ken Palladino for electrical- he’s great.


  • Grace, I always enjoy your ‘state of things’ essays and have been thinking about the post you wrote last week. Though I’m not condoning spiteful commentary, I can understand where the temptation to lash out comes from. We’re blasted with this idea of ‘perfection’ 24/7—in beauty, fashion, home decor, parenting, marriage, you name it—that it’s easy to forget that no one’s living a perfect life. I love looking at beautiful imagery for ideas, but it has also started to feel like a visual-assault of perfection is hitting me at every corner. I’ve noticed it shifting my own levels of satisfaction with my life and realized I needed a visual diet of sorts!

    I’m happy you are getting a little more real on D*S; it feels like a breath of fresh air that’s needed right now online. This personal, not-perfect look at you and Julia’s home is refreshing and inspired, and I love the realness of the unstyled phone photos along with frank discussion about budgets! Thank you for giving us a personal look at your life, and as always, for the inspiration, encouragement, and positivity that D*S brings.

  • Grace – as a die-hard country girl raised in Southern California, I totally understand your excitement at finally having some room to breathe! After I moved to North Idaho, the one thing that has kept me mesmerized is the changing seasons and watching the landscape evolve. On that note, I hope, hope, hope you post what you and Julia do with the garden this spring and summer! Also, we are all really enjoying living vicariously through you and yours while you update that gorgeous home – so keep up the great work and keep the posts coming!

  • Grace,
    This post is so honest and inspiring! My husband and I moved to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn this summer and we’re renovating a building that will soon be our restaurant, and we’re living in the apartment above. It’s quite an experience and I love following along with yours for ideas, encouragement and healthy doses of reality. I’ve been in major decision fatigue with all the details to figure out and I often turn to Design Sponge for references or just a little distraction. Congratulations on the full time move and you should come to the restaurant this summer!

  • I really enjoyed this post, it makes the goal of getting our house looking and feeling how we want it feel more attainable. We to are on a budget with restrictions, and it is going to take time. That’s real life though! In the mean time we try and make the most of things as they are. I enjoyed this post so much more than the more polished homes because this resonated with me. Thanks :)

  • Congrats on your gorgeous home! We made the move from the city to Ulster exactly one year ago and LOVE it for all the reasons you mentioned. Totally unrelated to your beautiful home but we found out the hard way with our dog…the ticks here are basically immune to Frontline. And tick season is brutal. :)

    • Carrie

      Thanks- yeah, i’m worried about the tick thing. We gave Hope, our dog, the lyme vaccine, so I’m hoping that helps. She also takes the oral version of that tick medication that comes with an actual “guarantee” they won’t get lyme. We’ll see…I hope it’s true.


  • What a great house – thanks for sharing with us. You transformed the kitchen just by painting the cabinets and having the open shelves, and widening that doorway – wow, that really opened that area up. Good job!

    Speaking of heat bills, my sister has a huge old house and a few years ago she installed a small heating stove (looks like the one you have in the fireplace) but her’s has a gas line – it is not wood burning. She paid 300.00 for the it and the cost of running a gas line to it (not much). She has told me it has cut her heating bill in half! I was so surprised to see her cat curled up under this stove – the stove is never hot to the touch. She put the stove in a out of the way place because she didn’t want to make it the focal point of the room. Anyway, I think its a great idea to help cut those heat bills way down.

  • I’ve had a bit of a crazy life lately so haven’t popped into the site as much as I used to, but what a nice surprise to see! I’m very happy for you, it seems like the country life is coming at the right time…I really love seeing things fall into place like this, it gives me hope that my time of chaos WILL indeed end. I love everything that you’ve done with the place and love seeing the in progress shots. Thanks as always, you put a smile on my face tonight!

  • Congratulations on the full-time move! My favorite part of this whole tour is the in-progress puzzle :) I empathize with your skunk experience. We live in a small apartment that is one side of a duplex, and last summer a skunk sprayed our foundation right by our back door. That smell penetrated throughout our apartment and was so strong our eyes were burning. We did an emergency run to the grocery store minutes before it closed and grabbed odor absorbing air fresheners for every room, but we ended up having to stay in a cheap motel that night because there was no place to escape the noxious odor in our small place. When we were checking in, I thought I could smell skunk on my husband and myself, and actually asked the clerk if he could smell it. I was horrified when he said yes, but he added he just figured we’d been smoking a ton of weed – ha! I was afraid that stuff in our apartment (like clothes) would be permanently ruined, but nothing was, thankfully.

    • Jen

      Oh no! That sounds terrible. We probably should have left the first night, but it was 3am and we have 2 pets, so we just hunkered down and slept under the covers. The next day when we left to run errands I realized WE smelled (my actual SKIN smelled- ugh!) and I was horrified.


  • Thank you for sharing this kind of post with us. It is refreshing to see work in progress shots. This post has really got me inspired for my own move. My partner and I are moving into a building that was originally a one floor law office and then at some point was raised up and a second floor was added. It is from the 1800’s ish, but I am not entirely sure. It is a rental so we won’t be able to change much, but I am looking forward to being in an actual house. We have always rented apartments and this is going to be a very exciting venture. We have permission to have a garden as well and I can’t wait! It is always fun when moving to a new place to come back to your blog and get inspiration from other homes! Thank you!

  • Wow, Grace!
    I am so proud of you for being so vulnerable with the post last week about the way that we talk to each other online and now this candid look inside your home. I totally appreciate what you’re doing here and I think it’s a beautiful thing that you’re authentically sharing “the good, bad and (sometimes) ugly” in process. I feel like you’re welcoming a culture of “we don’t have to have it all together to have community”, and I think there’s A LOT of life that comes from that level of honesty! Looking forward to the new columns, too!

  • Hi Grace,
    Tickled to view the progress of your “good housekeeping”. Always fun to get inside the homes of those admired from afar. I started following you on Instagram and love your site. You are easy to get to know! I only just started sharing inside shots of my own home and it surprised me that it often looks better in the photos than I expected. Looking forward to seeing more of your creativity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

  • Looks awesome, Grace! I’m so impressed with how much you got done over the winter…I mostly spent mine hibernating! Are you not planning to have your own dedicated office space, or will you share with Julia?

  • Hi Grace,

    What a truly inspiring home. I am a Philadelphian who dreams of moving into a farmhouse in coastal New England with my husband at some point and this is such a beautiful and real example to aspire to. Can’t wait to see what you come up with for your new columns. My real question is, which fixture from Schoolhouse do you have in your mudroom? I have been looking for something similar for my dining room. Thanks for sharing!

  • Truly lovely floors, especially in the kitchen. And the landscape view through the dining room is so sweet! Your home is refreshing without being pretentious or trying too hard. I’m sure your family will be very happy there for both material and immaterial reasons. Old houses are the best!

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you SO much for showing such a real home! It’s absolutely lovely, and evocative of your style.
    I enjoy seeing the dynamic beauty of a work in progress; it’s dressed and livable and feels like a set table, not like Chinet on TV trays (nothing against eating in front of the TV).
    I’ve been in my ‘new’ 93 years young NE PDX home for just under 4 months, and it’s a constant tug-of-war between settling in and starting a new project. Seeing another real home-in-process reminds me that many of us take this journey on purpose…and love it!
    Wishing you the best on this journey, and grateful you invited us all along.