Interiorssneak peeks

A Historical Landmark in The Hudson Valley Gets Revitalized

by Garrett Fleming

The Revolutionary War was raging, and it looked like its latest casualty would be made of stone and wood. Flames ripped up the home’s beams, and its floorboards creaked under the pressure of British boots. The troops had no remorse for the Kingston, NY home they were destroying, and within minutes their fireballs engulfed the 1680s-era structure. Cinders dancing behind them, the army moved down the road, probably giving little thought to whether or not the home would make it. But as their silhouettes shrunk in the distance, so did the fire. In the former home’s place stood a bare-bones structure ready for someone to breathe new life into it.

Since that day in 1777, the grey stone home has seen its fair share of “new lives,” none of which left the space feeling modern or family-friendly. Kat Howard and her husband Aaron Quint didn’t mind, though. They loved the history of the home, and two years ago they bought the historic landmark knowing full and well the challenges it presented. On moving day they stared each one down: “yellowing wallpaper, faded paint, heavy damask drapes, scary bathrooms and [a] dark, hovel-like kitchen.” For five months they lived and breathed the renovation, tackling these design problems, solving others and chipping away at the structure until finally they began to see the happy home at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks to their handiwork, the house is now open and airy. Fireplaces visually anchor most of the rooms, and antiquities passed down through Kat’s family are peppered here and there. While you can still smell the musk of char on the floorboards in the basement, this home clearly isn’t living in the past. A modern paint job and minimalist styling keep it current. It’s like-new, it’s still here, and now it stands pretty thanks to these dedicated homeowners. Click through to take a peek! Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Marili Forastieri. Styling by Zio & Sons.

A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
The home was built in 1680, and its two-foot-thick walls and creeping ivy give it a sense of mystery and intrigue. Kat and Aaron fell in love with this look the moment they laid eyes on the home, and their affection for the space only deepened when they learned about its storied past. A historical landmark, the home features floors and a roof that were burnt to a crisp by the British during the Revolutionary War. In the basement, a faint, charred smell still remains and the blackened boards are still visible.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
Kat, a contemporary fiber artist, and Aaron, who works in indoor farming, pose with their son Magnus outside the family home. The threesome will welcome home their first daughter very soon. What better place for the growing brood to live and love than here in this beautiful home in the Kingston area of NY's Hudson Valley.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
Many of the home’s decorations are antiques on loan from Kat’s family. The desk, for example, has been in Kat's family for four generations. They couldn’t furnish the entire space with loaners, though, so the family is always on the hunt for vintage treasures to fill in the gaps. The beams and floors are from 1780.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
When the family moved in, the home was full of thick, damask drapes, dark walls and rich ceilings. "The house itself has such unique features, and we wanted its historic details to shine through, so we removed the yellowed wallpaper, restored the plaster walls, [and painted] the ceilings white," the couple tells us. The rug and pillows are from IKEA, and the the couch was custom-built for the pair when they lived in San Francisco's Mission District. Hanging above them is a chandelier that once hung from Kat's grandmother's porch in Sweden.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
Sitting across from the sofa is this stunning hearth. During the colder months, Aaron cooks dinners in the seven-foot beauty. Each of the home's three fireplaces are decorated and designed to be the centerpiece of each room they occupy. This one's crowning glory is its rich paint job, courtesy of Benjamin Moore "Washington Blue." A Floral arrangement by Hops Petunia Floral brings a natural element into the space.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
The kitchen is a balance between Aaron and Kat's needs. The former loves to cook, so he needed a lot of counter space and at-the-ready ingredients. Kat hoped for a highly-stylized, clean look with hidden storage and marble countertops. The compromise? Cambria Quartz countertops in Torquay and well-organized mason jars full of ingredients, both of which are pretty and functional. That hexagonal, porcelain tile in matte black steals the show for me, though.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
During the home's 1920s renovation, this nook was added. While Kat and Aaron strove to preserve the home's original style, it was too good of a detail to remove. With a little one and another on the way, the family chose to go with an outdoor fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics for the cushions so they would stand up to pets and kids.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
"What we love most about our home are the old bones." Styling by Zio & Sons.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
For their fifth wedding anniversary, Aaron gave Kat this custom-built table. The pair loves cooking and entertaining, so the 13-foot piece has proven to be quite an asset. It's made with hand-forged iron legs and reclaimed wood from Coney Island. Around it sit genuine Eames chairs, and above the piece hangs a chandelier from Shabadashery that Aaron painted matte black to match the Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. sconces.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
The entryway staircase leads to this landing where loads of seating used to be. Kat and Aaron chose to flip the space into a library, making use of an otherwise wasted area of their home.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
The second floor's ceilings are lower, making the rooms feel smaller than they actually are. Rich wallpapering courtesy of the previous owner wasn't helping to open up the space either. To let the room breathe, Kat plastered the walls in white and used minimal accessories such as a Target lamp, Pottery Barn pillow and antique side table.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
Kat and Aaron's bathroom's dark linoleum and avocado fixtures had to go. They've been replaced with modern touches and a streamlined look courtesy of Signature Hardware and Restoration Hardware.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
Aaron and Kat will bring their daughter home to this bright and whimsical nursery once she's born. Stuffed animals from all over the world, as well as Kat's childhood ballet slippers, decorate the space.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
Moving to the Hudson Valley meant more space for the family overall. For Kat, in particular, it meant she could finally have an at-home art studio. Here she works on a piece for an upcoming show at Surface Gallery in Asheville, NC.
A Historical Landmark in Upstate NY Gets Revitalized, Design*Sponge
The two-story home's floor plan.

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  • As an architectural historian, I would have loved to see more exterior photos of this beautiful, historic home.

    • Haley

      Not all home owners are comfortable with exterior photos being put on the internet, as they often make it easy to ID a home from the street. Many of our readers feel concerned about that for a variety of reasons so we always respect their request to leave those out if necessary.


    • Haley – That’s not really the point of this article though is it? It’s about the resign of the interior.

  • Stunning. I think my favorite element is the chandelier in slide 4. A really nice, unexpected touch! (PS, I want to see the burn marks!)

  • This is lovely. My impression of old stone houses is a dark and oppressive interior, but this one seems so bright. The wide plank floors are really nice, too.

    Kat and Aaron, could you share who restored your plaster walls? I’m local and may need to do mine, too. Thanks!

    • Malia- for a plaster professional in Kingston you should also check out manhattan-nest.com and look for / or ask for Daniel’s recommendation –he hired someone to do his ceilings and hallway.

  • Loved the photos, but Garrett, I think your first paragraph was my very favorite part of this article. Lovely bit of writing.

    • I too was struck by the drama and beauty of this paragraph. I’ve long felt that there is something special about Garrett’s writing. And I suspect that no matter what topic he chooses to write about in the future, that quality will remain.

  • Perfection! Question for the owners: are there special regulations that have to be followed when renovating a historical landmark?

    • Hi! Thanks for your question. Oddly enough the only special regulations for a historical landmark are for the exterior. We were allowed to do what we wanted on the inside, with the knowledge of a certain social responsibility to the house and its original period. If we wanted to even change the paint color of the shutters, we’d have to run it by several committees…

  • Absolutely stunning! I love every inch of this place. Bravo for treated the history delicately.

  • I was told by someone professionally restoring houses in Charleston, SC, that they often find remodeled features where the remodeling itself is so old that it’s somewhat historic. They try to leave these features, showing the history of the house itself.
    Aaron and Kat’s 90-some-year-old breakfast nook fits right in with that approach.

  • This house is a dream. Perfect mix of old & new. I love the clean look throughout, and those beams are amazing. Great job on the photos and the story.

  • This is an amazing story and a beautiful home! Love it all, that kitchen is really getting me today… :)

  • Holy hector what an amazing home. I just love all the wood and if my partner surprised me with a table like that, I’d have dinner parties every night. At the very least it would be a great sewing space!

  • Would it be possible to know who made the custom hand forged dining table base? I would love to give them some business ;)
    What a beautiful anniversary gift!