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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Farm 14 Sold

Sweet Farm 14. An interesting project for Catskill Farms and a real sign of the times, and perhaps instructional to other builder/speculators. Farm 14 was started by someone else who didn't have the mental, financial, spiritual, emotional wherewithal to finish it up (the vodka bottles we found about probably didn't help). But they did several things right, first and foremost placing the home absolutely perfect on the property. The property consists of 2+ acres, but it is more private than many substantially larger parcels. And the fact that you climb a slight grade to the proud-standing house, just helps matter considerably.

Also, the work that was done was done well. Not necessarily the interior layout and design choices, but definitely the quality and structural attention to detail was fine.

So it was a go. And we ripped out a lot of finished sheetrock and opened the whole first floor up for a better flow and replaced all the interior doors with solid-core doors, and replaced all the trim, and flooring and moved the fireplace and redid all the siding and pimped out the porch and re calibrated the stairs, and retiled the bath and installed a cool countertop and black cast-iron sink, and really did up the perfect mudroom, as you can see below.

Sliding barn door, powder room, great stone floor, radiator to hang your wet socks and gloves off of, and board and batton siding to give it some real character (oh, and the bucket light works it's whimsy well). Detail and uniqueness over detail and uniqueness.

We have diverse clients - not just the bankers and rock stars and a-list comedians and alternative magazine founders or broadway musical directors, or levi's creative directors or OMD digital media pros or executive assistant to billionaires or south american shipping magnets or clothing pros or cops or naturalists or lawyers or art gallery insurers or art gallery owners or tastemakers across industries or doctors of chemistry or accountants or wealth managers or moma curators or picture frame artisans or just otherwise accompliced City execs - Yes, we have diverse clients, but what we also have are diverse and personal and real decisions of why people choose us (Catskill Farms).
This group of two sisters and a mom and dog (barkley) who have big plans for this house, at the same time we are building for a woman, her brother and her mom. And the man who plans to marry his girl, we are building for them. And the two guys at Cottage 31, and the couple who just finished closing on our new Micro cottage.

That wasn't really fair though, when I took Sarah and Jeff out in my wife's new 2010 Subaru Outback. She was busy, so I had Lucas and Sarah and Jeff got in the car with me and Lucas and you know young children have a serious mojo about them - they sort of take up some space with their presence - and it's not just that they are cute - they just have something about them that is more compellingly nuanced than an adult, especially for people who don't have kids. It's kind of like standing in the woods listening to the ocean of tree branches. It emotes, for sure.

So Lucas made it happen and Sarah and Jeff made a commitment to Micro 2 and closed on it on this past Monday.
Anyway, like I was saying, the stories of our customers are serious and heavy and aspirations for the home are lofty and expandable and a palette - and they entrust it to us.

People ask me how I do it - how I bucked a historic real estate crash that should have spontaneously combusted us quicker than one of those amazing stories on that old show "That's Incredible" - well, to be honest, how we did it was sort not super cool - we were earnest, and hard-working, and honest. Irreverently earnest, hard-working and honest, but all of those things nevertheless.
One of the best gifts we got was the '2nd chance' - my god, the learning curve was step and the obstacles nearly not comprehensible - horrid and not entertaining, but lessons nevertheless and the guy left standing has a chance to avoid and prosper from the wince-able travails that make up half the path of progress.

Lisa and Lucas are down in Lancaster Pa so it's just me and Jake and Ruby (the cat) and Tiger (the other cat) and that damn dirty snowman in the front yard and my frozen pizza in the oven.

This old Farm 14 has a lot of class and was a real testament to the bubble we here at Catskill Farms live in. So here I undertake this incredibly speculative project and remodel and renovate and market it and maybe it was on the market fully completed for 4 months and everyone is giving me sideways glances and asking me what's wrong and did I lose my touch of magic and so and so forth.

I guess that's the problem with setting the bar so frickin' high that only some real tall person can touch it. I could have held onto this house for a year without being personally slighted - it was a great show piece and sold a few other homes - a model home, something you want when you don't have it and definitely think twice when you do.

Anyway like I was saying, the house is hot with details galore and comes in at just about 2000 sq ft with a basement larger than 1/2 of our homes.

It was fun showing this house and really getting reinforced about who we are - we are the small house guys and most of the people we showed the house to just wanted something a little smaller, a little more modest. And then think about it - this house is 20% smaller than the average American home - which I think says more about them than us.

Boy I can smell the pizza cooking, and in a move I'm not so confident about currently, I followed the directions on the box which stated to place the pizza directly on the oven grill and in my mind's eye (and my nose) I'm picturing a lot of processed cheese dripping down all over the inside of the oven.

I don't get away with much, which is why Lisa says I'm so honest, cause I can't pull much off if I don't believe it and I lie about as well as my dog Jake talks. One time in a house that wouldn't sell (which were most of my first few homes ) I rented it out to my friends Steve and Bruce and they kept some killer treats in the pantry and I would sneak over, through the basement, during the week when they weren't around and swipe a yoodle, or a oatmeal creme cookie, or a cup of pudding. Thing about it, when you enter a basement, sneak up the stairs in your socks, your socks are all dusty especially contrasted with a dark stained clean floor - so what you had were some pretty incriminating footprints leading from the cellar door, to the pantry and back out.

Well, need to go eat my pizza - it's not everyday you get to indulge like this.


  1. Chuck-you're the best! As I said before, ALL of your homes are ABSOLUTELY wonderful, but we are so happy to call Farm 14 ours. To anyone even thinking about a second home, vacation home, first home or whatever kind of home lol, you stumbled onto Chuck's site for a reason...look no further if what you seek is a fantastic, high quality, stylishly unique,slice of country heaven in one of the prettiest landscapes in all of NY. Plenty of things to do close by year round (fishing preserves, white water rafting, kayaking canoeing, skiing, snowboarding,horseback riding, snow shoeing etc...) or you can do simply nothing at all but meditate on your wrap around porch in the confines of your wooded acreage about why getting this home was such a good idea, and why you're so happy you did it...! :)


  2. Chuck, I'm pretty sure you just coined a phrase that might become quotable as time goes by: "...the wince-able travails that make up half the path of progress." That paints a clear and profound (but wince-able!) mental picture that rings at least one painful bell in just about every human heart, especially those that have lived awhile. I just hope people who repeat it will give you credit for it.