Upstate Renovation: Creating a Future Getaway

Gray Street Guest House - Pre-renovation - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Everyone needs a cozy spot in the Hudson Valley to get away to. That’s what drove me to buy this charming two-family home on Gray Street in Poughkeepsie. The vision: to bring this beauty back to life and turn it into a home away from home for guests looking to explore the region, set up camp for a week or two, or just kick back with a good book.

I’ve been away from my usual postings these past few months while I’ve been finalizing a new step forward for An Upstate of Mind. At the beginning of November I purchased a charmingly disheveled two-family home on Gray Street in Poughkeepsie close to Vassar College.

The house, a Craftsman built in 1935, is located in an area settled by local tradesmen in the years just following the Great Depression. Originally a single-family home, the house was converted into a two-family sometime in the 80s (judging by some of the tile work in the upstairs bathroom). The home has nevertheless retained all of its charm, if somewhat concealed by decades of bad remodeling, linoleum, fixtures, and a patchwork of retro carpeting.

The plan: to convert this lovely abode into a cozy Upstate getaway for guests wishing to explore the area or just enjoy a quiet respite in one of the most beautiful regions in the world.

I’ve had the joy of staying in similar accommodations in Europe – a beautiful loft apartment in Spain on the Bay of Biscay; a remodeled carriage barn in the French Countryside – magical, languid, inspiring places that always felt like home. They were simple, clean, and incredibly inviting. And the perfect home base for every kind of adventure. I felt like it was about time we brought that spirit to the Hudson Valley.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a leap of faith on my part. At least it is for my bank account. But it’s one of the most exciting undertakings I’ve gotten myself into. And I’m lucky enough to have a partner who’s not only an incredibly gifted interior architect and furniture designer, but just as excited about the project as I am. Perhaps there’s a higher power at work here?

Okay, so let’s have a tour, shall we?
You’ve had a look at the front, so let’s head to the backyard and poke around the garage.

Gray Street Guest House - Pre-renovation - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Guest House - Back Yard - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Guest House - Garage - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Below is the driveway looking back at the street from the garage.

Gray Street Guest House - Driveway - Photo by Sparrow Hall

And here’s Gray Street… I took this around mid-November when the leaves were just past their peak. It’s a beautiful tree-lined street with old fashioned light posts down the length of it.

Gray Street - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Here’s the intersection with Forbus Avenue, which heads east to Vassar…

Forbus Avenue at Gray Street - Photo by Sparrow Hall

… and west towards Vassar Brothers Hospital.

Forbus Avenue at Gray Street - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Ok, let’s head inside!

Here we are entering the first floor unit through what is now a large living room space with terrible carpeting, and a hulking wall unit that was never removed by the previous owner.

Gray Street Guest House - Garage - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Guest House - Garage - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Starting to load in the renovation materials…

Gray Street Guest House - Garage - Photo by Sparrow Hall

The first floor unit has surprisingly good closet space, and tons of built ins.

Here we are entering the hallway, which leads back to the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen.

Gray Street Renovation - Hallway - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Hallway - Photo by Sparrow Hall

More awful linoleum. Can’t wait to see what’s under there.

Gray Street Renovation - Hallway - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Check out all these built-ins.

Gray Street Renovation - Hallway - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Here we are entering the kitchen, which opens up to the right around the corner there – plenty of room for a table and chairs. The island could use an update, but we’re thinking it’s a keeper.

Gray Street Renovation - Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

That hanging lamp makes me want to play a hand of poker in 1976.

Gray Street Renovation - Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Really liking this built-in to the right with the windowpane glass.

Gray Street Renovation - Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Here we are entering the bedroom off the hallway. Beautiful light.

Gray Street Renovation - Bedroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

And again, lots of closet space.

Gray Street Renovation - Bedroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Bedroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Now, on to the bathroom…

Gray Street Renovation - Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

With its built-in linen closet. Sweet.

Gray Street Renovation - Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

The rest of the bathroom, however…

Gray Street Renovation - Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

… is going to be a bit of a project. Don’t even ask about the gilded mirror.

Gray Street Renovation - Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Oh, and I forgot to mention this little side porch just off the kitchen (that’s in need of some major love). This little room is a breakfast nook waiting to happen.

Gray Street Renovation - Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Okay, so now let’s head over to the other side of the house.

Here we are coming up through the porch to the entrance of the second unit.

Gray Street Renovation - Second Floor Unit Entrance - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Second Floor Unit Entrance - Photo by Sparrow Hall

I can see the porch becoming a beautiful sun room where you would pour over the morning paper with a cup of coffee, looking out on the park across the street.

Gray Street Renovation - Second Floor Unit Entrance - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Here’s the other side of the front door coming into the vestibule.

Gray Street Renovation - Entrance Stairs - Photo by Sparrow Hall

The staircase gets some really beautiful Edward Hopper-looking light.

Gray Street Renovation - Entrance Stairs - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Entrance Stairs - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Here we are coming up on the landing in the upstairs hall.

Gray Street Renovation - Landing - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Hall - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Hall - Photo by Sparrow Hall

And here we are entering the living room, which faces onto the front of the property and Forbus Butternut Park.

Gray Street Renovation - Living Room - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Beautiful light and amazing floors.

Gray Street Renovation - Living Room - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Living Room - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Living Room - Photo by Sparrow Hall

On to the bathroom…

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Hello pink tile.

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

And a toilet from the dawn of Man.

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

We’re definitely going to want to zhush the shower situation. But that cast iron tub isn’t bad at all.

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Here wer are in the bedroom. Again, really nice floors. The room is quiet and faces the back yard.

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Bathroom - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Here we are entering the kitchen. Try to look past the mint-colored walls.

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

A very doable situation over here. We’re basically going to be painting everything.

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

And who doesn’t love a pantry?

Gray Street Renovation - Upstairs Kitchen - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Ok, one last stop… The attic.

Scary?

Surprisingly, not so much.

Here we are at the top of the landing.

Gray Street Renovation - Attic - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Thinking this could become a nice writing loft with a white painted roof and exposed brick chimney.

Gray Street Renovation - Attic - Photo by Sparrow Hall

And look at this window nook. That’s what I’m talking about.

Gray Street Renovation - Attic - Photo by Sparrow Hall

One last parting shot, looking out onto Forbus Butternut Park. The house in the distance is the old manner home on Cherry Drive that presided over the neighborhood back when this whole area was farmland.

Gray Street Renovation - Forbus Butternut Park - Photo by Sparrow Hall

Okay, now on to the demolition stage! Hammers and crowbars! Fun!

Stay tuned to see the renovation in action!

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