Surrounded by 5 acres, Rustic Homestead is a fun vacation rental home in Tivoli in the Hudson Valley.
How would you describe Hudson Valley Mill in a nutshell?
My parents converted this 18th century mill into what it is today - a unique vacation rental just two hours north of NYC, in Salt Point, NY. The indoors is decorated with antiques, mid-century modern furniture and my father's artworks are also present throughout the house. There are four bedrooms and nine guests can sleep here comfortably. With lots of open living spaces as well as intimate nooks you'll find that the inside of the mill is very comfortable and cozy. It really is a rustic and charming house, outside there are stone walls, a waterfall, Mill's creek to swim in and lots of outdoor space to enjoy.
Please tell us a little about the history of Hudson Valley Mill.
My father had just gotten out of architecture school and was looking for a project. He was looking for something next to a body of water, and this was what he found. My mother was an interior designer and together they created an amazing home. The property is an old mill that had been abandoned for many years and the whole interior was basically a hollow shell except for the steel beams and the stone structure. Together, they began to redesign the interior.
When did you decide to rent out the house to vacation guests?
In 1998, my father passed away and I inherited the house. At the time, I was living in a small apartment on the Lower East Side in New York City. Taking on a big house by myself seemed like a daunting task for one person. I knew early on that I wanted to share the house with other people. I had yearly tenants but after a while, I decided to try doing short term vacations. It was great to have people who appreciated the house coming in and out; it really breathed a lot of life into the place and reignited my love for it. Since then, we’ve been fortunate to have so many great tenants.
What is so special about this vacation rental?
There’s so much. It’s really the whole property. But the house itself, when I was growing up, there was always a table saw going and the sounds of hammer and nails. It was always a work in progress. Aside from my father being an architect, he was also an artist. It’s almost as though the house is the embodiment of his biggest art piece. There’s a sentimental and emotional connection. To be there enables me to be closer to him, which is important to me. Everywhere I look, I see his work. Now the house has become my project. I’m adding to what my parents started and it has become a creative outlet for me. Connecting to nature has made me realize how important that is and it’s made my life a little quieter which is helping my art to grow. I look at it more now as a big gift from both of my parents and less as a tremendous and daunting project. Swimming in the waterfall is something I’ve been doing since I was a baby and it’s very comforting to revisit it every summer.
Looking back over the past few years renting out the house, what’s been most rewarding about the whole experience?
It’s kind of funny. I bought this guestbook and I left it in the kitchen and forgot about it. Then one weekend, my friend and I were working on the house and she saw the guestbook. It was such an experience to sit down and look through the book and read about all these experiences that people had in the house. It was so touching. There were really personal things people had written that would never have occurred to me. This summer and fall, we actually had two couples who got married here. That was beautiful to see, sort of like bringing new life into it. Sharing the house with other people and seeing them have their own happy experiences in it is very rewarding.
How would you describe the vacation home’s style?
It’s mid-century modern, a mix of new and some antique pieces. All of my father’s artwork, his paintings, are throughout the house. But it’s very simple and minimal so it doesn’t feel so much like you’re in somebody’s home with their things, yet it still captures that homey feel. I have my own collection of Catherine Holm Scandinavian enamelware on display in the kitchen. It’s brightly colored from the ‘60s and ‘70s. But otherwise, it’s very simple and clean. The house has so much going on in itself, I didn’t want to detract from that.
At the moment, where are most of your vacation guests from?
They are mostly New Yorkers — people looking to escape the city. With the economy being what it is, people are looking for more local get-aways. We’ve had a few who have been from Europe. I think they appreciate it since it has a European feel to it.
Is there anything else that you’d like to mention?
We’ve learned over the years is that it’s not necessarily the right vacation home for everyone. It’s a rustic house with a lot of history. It works best when people understand what to expect. They’re inspired by the architectural aspect of it and the history of it and the idea of this having been someone’s life work and renovation process. They’re intrigued by the story. There’s an appeal to that but it’s not necessarily going to resonate with everyone.