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Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Press about amazin' Catskill Farms

We had some good press lately about a variety of things.  I'm down in Miami taking a few days off but before you get too jealous let just say it's been raining since Friday, which I why I guess I'm blogging on a Sunday morning.

Times Herald Record covers our upcoming TV appearance on Selling NY -

Manhattan Media and their five neighborhood newspapers cover our homes and ideas -

Brownstoner gives us a shout out last week and one of our houses for sale-

And the trusty Hudson Valley Business Journal -  with a real handsome shot of me!!

That's it for now.  Got some real good blog posts incubating in my head so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Appliance sale, Eldred is Hot, and Contractor Blues.

Eldred NY seems to be the hot spot.  Tom Givone just made a big splash in dwell magazine with his renovation of a house over off of Airport Road.  No link available, but I think the feature story is available in this month's issue.  Tom's done a few projects up here over the last decade - all of them interesting with unique approaches.

And a fun 'upstate projects can be painful' article in the NY Times - "Pre-Fab Short on the Fab" - something we are well aware of and really the inspiration of the whole Catskill Farms business model.  Upstate living and the transition thereof does not have to be a test of endurance and financial/emotional survival.

It can be real easy - The Catskill Farms way.  Perfected over 10 years of experimentation and improvement.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Around Town (and Woodstock's Levon Helm)

Since I've been hanging around Woodstock area a few days a week, I was up close and personal to the reaction to the passing of Levon Helm of the Band.  Between his history as the backup band to Dylan, and then the Band and the movie and songs, and then later the close connection and participation with the Town of Woodstock, where we are building a half a dozen homes.

That's Lucas below in Saugerties, NY with one of his funny faces. outside a cool mid-century antiques and furnishes store named Green, where the hours are long and the owner is pretty attached to his pretty Labrador.

Google sprung a suprise on my, or at least blogger.com did, with a whole new layout for my blog - after 600 posts and 4 years of posting, I was definitely used to the inadequancy of the old blogger - in a way, it wasn't even romantic in its simplicity - it was just a poor program when put beside something like wordpress, etc...

Barn V in Narrowsburg NY
Seems like a lot of easy neat features like this new post method to the right or left of the photo - that's the A team excavation leader Norm.  He's a master of the earth.  He's very important to us 'getting out of the ground' with a house, and critical to the our constant aspiration and consistent achievement of our 'on-budget, on-schedule' approach to things. 

That's the Big Barn down below, coming along pretty nicely.  It's big, it's bad, it's cool.

See, I'm already having formatting frickin issues with damn new upgrade.  So down below are the Arma-Lite Garage doors - 3 of them, with tracks and with remotes, looking over the hills.

 The Garage ain't bad lookin either, for sure.  Room for cars and a few motorcycles and down the road maybe some guests.   It's modeled after my friends Benoist house.

Cottage 39 in Eldred NY is making some progress as of late.  It's one of the few homes we have for sale, and is pretty good looking, has plenty of space, and sits on a sweet piece of land.

Cottage 40 in Woodstock is making some progress even though our framer held us up by going on Vacation at the wrong time, and worse, coming back with a twisted knee.  But we are making progress and the first site meeting is set for Saturday a week.

It's always fun to go up top before the roof is on.

Ranch VI is making good progress as well - we are in the final weeks before turning it over to the owners, who are friends of Barn IV folks.  This is a very cool house.


And then Joe and Robin who are building Farm 19 with us, in area we like a few miles outside of Narrowsburg.  10 acres, some views, some privacy, some lake rights, some elevation.  Actually a piece of perfect.

That's Bryce from Cottage 17 on the left, tagging along to see how its done.  He's got his real estate license and hopes to sell some homes up here in his spare time from his store in Barryville, NY.

And then Mike and Suzannah of Farm 20 fame (I think I'm misspelling her name, but I'm not in the office to double check).  Mike is aka as F20g, who as been guest blogging on occasion about his process, his thinking and his journey into country-homedom.  Mike's worrisome cause though I'm a pretty bright guy, he runs circles around me and I'm left picking up the morsels of brainpower he kindly leaves around.  I often say we are really without competition in terms of style and approach and intuitive communication and collaboration with our clients because our clients are a talented set of designers and professionals with good tastes which constantly pushes our knowledge and comfort level - Mike and his team push us forward into new territory on a more mechanical basis - geothermal, solar, smart wiring, etc... It's all good, cause the more we know, the more we know.  and the more we know, the more our clients appreciate that knowledge leveraged on their behalf when needed.

Cottage 38, that handsome devil up in Stone Ridge, ready for a late May closing.  Actually, we will close on a few in May  - Cottage 38, Barn V, Mid Century Ranch VI.  I feel I'm forgetting one.  And then we are starting on Cottage 40, Arts & Crafts 2, Arts&Crafts 3, Barn VI, Farm 19, Farm 20, possibly the Glasco Cottage in Woodstock and who knows what else, - it's hard to keep track of, to be honest.

Lucas and I went up last Sunday to Stone Ridge to meet up with the Tuck family and show them our wares, and then some land over on Old Sawmill Rd.  Lucas just got an IronMan mask, so he likes to wear it and likes to share it.  Here is letting our stone mason wear it while learning the trade.

He's an apprentice.

Then over to the Sawmill Properties in Saugerties.



While cruising around the areas, we went through High Falls, and Rosendale and this fun outdoors antique market.  Lucas had to take a break.


He eats a pretty narrow selection of bread and water, and here he is chomping on some bread in the Price Chopper in a shopping cart in Saugerties NY.

Picture below left is in Kutztown PA on our way to Lancaster and on the right in my apartment in Saugerties.


Another pic of my Saugerties apartment.  That is one dangerous spiral staircase, let me tell you.  I go up and down it like a grand parent.    

The owner of the Big Barn took a big western Rockies and desert and California motorcycle trip last year when he was switching jobs and had few weeks off.  I salivated about it then, and have been scheming since to make it happen so after I finish hiking Yosemite in September for a few days, I'm going on a 4 days western motorcycle tour through the ghost towns of western Nevada, skirting Death Valley and back up the west side of the Rockies back to Sacramento....

...where that big jetliner will take me back east.

The Band -
Up on on Cripple Creek, as she sends me
If I spring a leak, as she mends me
I don't have to speak, as she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

I took up all of my winnings
And I gave my little Bessie half
And she tore it up and threw it in my face
Just for a laugh
Now there's one thing in the whole wide world
I sure would like to see
That's when that little love of mine
Dips her doughnut in my tea

Up on Cripple Creek, as she sends me
If I spring a leak, as she mends me
I don't have to speak, as she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

Monday, April 16, 2012

Barn VI and Ranch V going into Contract.

Well, things keep rolling in the right direction for us over here at Catskill Farms with deals being made on a house that hasn't broken ground yet (aka Barn VI) and for the rare house we have had in inventory since late last summer (aka Mid-Century Ranch V).

And here's the money shot, where Jason whips out the checkbook on the back of the tailgate besides the sticks his girls just collected in the woods where their house will be. We call it a bridge deposit and what it means is we take the property off the market and reserves it for the family until the formal contract is signed.

Sure, more cautious types might protest that giving 10 large to a stranger in the middle of the woods with no receipt or real outline of the trade except the old 'I'll build you a house, right here' is a bit foolish, but what I have realized as of late that a lot of our most recent clients have been following us for years - more than one use the phrase 'stalking' or 'I've worn your website out' or 'that analytic with the late night user, that's me!" So they know me in a way, and that's what I love about this blog and keeping our website updated - it breeds a familarity over time and I'm sure adds a real level of comfort for those about to take the plunge.

We've just re-branded our pre-sales in the design above. I'm diggin' the retro-ized feel of it. We've been trying to nail it for months and one day I arrived and the office and finally, there it was in my inbox - exactly what I was looking for.

The new family buying in Saugerties standing in front of the log tractor. Funny, we were all over that land for 30 minutes and the girls never even noticed these two monster machines - Lucas would have been peeing in his pants to get inside of them.

And Ranch V is moving towards a deal with an English woman who works at a prior customer's boyfriend's marketing company. And her English friend is thinking about buying the Shack. We have Irish customer (with the brogue and everything), Brazilian, English, American, Iranian, gay, straight, single, familied, coupled, dogged, married, divorced, old, young, middle aged, etc... It's a regular Benneton ad (not an original joke, one of my customers came up with that one).

This one bedroom 800 sq ft home on 5 acres rocks. Seriously. And talk about affordable.
The carport - need I say more.

And the hot interior, with concrete floors with radiant heat in them.

Fun apple green bath with a black and white theme.
And lest I forget to share the news, I happened to see opening night of the previews of Streetcar Named Desire. So I saw Death of a Salesman with Seymour Hoffman a few weeks prior (forgettable), then I saw Streetcar (Memorable, especially on opening night in row 2) and last year I saw How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (fun).

And I think that describes a lot of experiences - Forgettable, Memorable, and Fun. Like Speed, Price and Quality, it's hard to get all three.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Farm 18, Sold

It wasn't that long ago that I rescued Kerry and Jamie from the mistake of their lives - when they were just about to buy a huge old house with lots of charm. As I educated them on the benefits of a perfect house, they were able to put away the calculator they were using to price out the 50 storm windows for the single pane glass and the cost of a new paint job on a monster old house like the one that was flirting with them.

Look, I unabashedly believe that old homes are cool, old homes have charms (I typically choose them for myself), but for the most part, my customers (and many who should be) have no business buying an old fixer upper. They don't have the time, the financial resources, or the requisite 'stress capacity' to deal with it. Nor do they have the expertise or wherewithal to tackle the unknown. In a way, it's foolish - these are busy city people, half who never owned a home and hence have no idea the effort a well-functioning home demands, let alone one that is in dire and constant need of tender loving care. Until we started offering our perfectly charming country houses the only choice in the marketplace was to 'fall for the wrong guy', fall for the romance of this old house - doubly dangerous in its heyday cause their wasn't a Catskill Farms offering a compelling alternative to consider.

Introducing, Farm 18. 3 bedrooms, 8 acres, lake rights, 2 bathrooms, full basement, outdoor shower, screened porch, wood burning fireplace, in-wall speakers throughout (including independent volume controls in the bathrooms for rock out shower sessions - R.O.S.S.), security systems, low heat alarms, ton of wrap-around porches, and the man-shed. And I'm probably forgetting another 1/2 of what are in these uber-efficient, ultra cool country retreats.

Our operating mantras - easy soft landings, drama-less construction processes, stamping your house with your impulses and ideas and inspirations and aspirations. We used to aim a lot higher than our abilities, but now we overshoot our high expectations all the time.

Especially on our Man Sheds. Our writing shacks. Our drunk tanks. Our pottery barns.

We like our cross buck 9 light barn doors for sure.

Enter forthwith, and take a look at the entire first floor, all 850 sq ft of glory where the living room dining room and kitchen merge effortlessly, but all retaining their personal space to call their own, so there is no unnecessary squabbling and identity-crises.

Lucas immediately went in for the built in chest right inside the front door. I mean, he went right for it - figured out it was there, figured out how to lift the lid and figured out how to get in. He didn't quite figure on how to get out when he shut the lid and I sat on it.

Listening to George Jones 16 greatest hits, after a few drinks and burgers with Bryan over at Cottage 34.

Standing in the dining room, with the screened porch to the right and the kitchen to the fore. We used a stained board and batten wainscoting treatment. Nice architectural radiator to the left.

I think most people can imagine themselves succeeding in this kitchen. I think it lends itself to some tawdry Hollywood-style sex scene. But seriously, this place is sharp and you got to hand it to James - the lines are symmetrical and aligned.

The woodburning fireplace with hand hewn beam.

Interesting light/chandelier in the dining room.

and the master bedroom is hot with a similar board and batten wainscotting, beams wrapped in salvaged wood and a nice soft color to soothe the frayed city edges.

Couple cool elements like this horizontal rail treatment connecting old barn beams...

And some built in bookshelves compliment the wood burning fireplace...

and another shot of the various stained hues of board and batten wainscoting...

And then the hot baths that speak for themselves - where the interior designers of Farm 18 took some risks that paid off handsomely... Black gloss walls, white tile, black grout and white toilets and sinks.

Going down the stairs, with natural light coming in from both directions...

And the first floor full bath with some amateur photo shop accenting the black on white.

And then Lucas thought is was high time to hit the road. I mean, we had a big day planned. We had to go visit the Morris girls at Farm 16, or the Morreale kids up the street at Cottage 36, or maybe we need to go get some pancakes at the Whistle Stop in Narrowsburg.

You know, the idea we aspired to with a glimpse of market insight back in 2003 - that there was a market for a wide variety of shapes and sizes of good looking country homes that work - that simple insight and a lot of single-mindedness and hard work, that simple insight is as true then as it is today.

Homes that work, homes that look good, houses that achieve that crowning glory of being a home. That's what we do - we build homes.