I found their Instagram feed @thefolklorehouse just as Tyson and I were nestling into our finally finished project of our own at The Farm Home. The Folklore House peaked my interest - a unique multi-family set in the historic district of Hudson, NY - steps away from Main Street, curated antique shops & farm-to-table restaurants; I needed to learn more of their story.
Danielle Van Noy and Gordon Waltho are a husband and wife team who share creative design backgrounds and a passion for art, friendship, travel, and food. The young DIYers are taking on the likes of Hudson, NY to live a slower-paced lifestyle and pursue their journey of continued learning. What I fell in love with was their hunger for the project. I felt that we had so much in common and could relate to their journey. The main point being that they lived in the house while renovating and their actions exhibit a thirst for living an unconventional life!
This week, I had the chance to interview Danielle and chat about her renovation, soon-to-be vacation rental. If you're planning a trip to Hudson, NY (Danielle recommends summer!) or pondering the idea of fixing up a vacation rental of your own, here's some advice for those about to get their hands dirty.
When did you first lay eyes on The Folklore House?
After months of looking for a property that suited us and our goals, we found The Folklore House. Our first visit to the property was toward the end of July (2017) and our closing date was our second wedding anniversary, October 23rd. We really loved the location of the house, just one block off Warren (our town's main street) in Hudson, NY.
Fill us in on some history about the house!
Our home was built in 1930 as a home for workers. Although we are unsure of the industry, we suspect the people who originally resided in the house were industrial factory workers. During the later half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, Hudson became notorious as a center of vice, especially gambling and prostitution. It's likely there could have been a period where our home was part of that loop.
Who's doing the work?
Most of the work done on our house has been true DIY. Having never renovated any other properties prior, our experience has been one of research, trial, and error. It has been fun, exhausting, challenging, exciting, and most of all filled with a lot of learning. While we are nearing the end of our renovation on the upper floor of our house, we are soon to do it all over again on the lower level, where hopefully things will move along a bit faster now that we have done it all once before.
We aren't quite to the point of decorating the interior, but as graphic designers/illustrators, we are looking forward to bringing our own unique aesthetic to the space. (You can find some of our interior inspiration here on Pinterest!)
When did demo start? When do you hope to finish?
We began demo on our house the day we closed on the property! I guess you could say we were ready to hit the ground running. We hope to have the top level of our house finished by the end of March. As for downstairs, it would be wonderful to have it completed by early summer.
Renovations can cause many stressful moments and at times, make you rethink why you started. What was your "OMG, why did we do this again moment?!"
Renovations are indeed stressful, and I think even more so when you are working full-time and doing most of the work yourself. There have definitely been a few moments when we have been pulling at our hair. One of the most frustrating tasks was stripping all the layers of linoleum and tar off the kitchen floors. I think it took us a good solid 2 weeks of scraping with the heat gun.
Are you living in the home while renovating? If so, would you do it again?
We have been living in the house while renovating. We are fortunate to have two separate spaces, which allows us to work upstairs while having a somewhat cleaner space to stay in downstairs. We refer to our lower-level as the "camp site." It's not yet glamorous, but it functions and provides a place for us to rest.
Did you go into the renovation knowing you were going to make it a vacation home rental on Airbnb?
We did! We were looking for a multi-family home that would allow for two separate spaces, one for us and one to rent out.
What is special about Hudson, NY? What should we check out while visiting?
Hudson is a quintessentially charming small town, laden with history. The architecture alone is worth a visit and makes for lovely walks about the town. In addition, the town's main street, Warren, is dotted with wonderful antique shops and great restaurants. If strolling isn't your jam, you can venture to hike in one of the many beautiful conservation areas nearby, or pop into one of the breweries or farms that surround the city.
What is your favorite design element in the home so far?
One of the first things we did upstairs was open up two walls so that our living/dining/kitchen area all flow one to another. The open space is definitely one of our favorite things about the house. In addition, we love the beautiful moldings around the doors and the wood floor restoration has turned out even better than we could have imagined.
What's your favorite time of year to spend a weekend at the house?
Summer in the Hudson Valley is hard to beat. We love all that is available outdoors. Just a short stroll from the house is the Hudson River. It's so lovely to walk down and enjoy the view with a mug (of wine) in hand. :)
What advice do you have for fellow DIY couples who want to take on a project of their own?
I think the most valuable thing we have learned in the process of renovating our space is to know when to take a break and rest. We are, of course, so impatient when it comes to the process of getting the work done. Every project takes longer than you would expect, but taking a break to rest and come back to the project with renewed vision is so important. I know this process would have been much more painful had we not taken moments to refresh ourselves, and- in the end- I don't think our days away from the work on the house really added much time to the overall renovation.
What was one of your "team-building" moments with Gordon on this project?
I think working as a team comes very naturally to us. We have needed one another for nearly every aspect of this project. I think the one thing that keeps us on good terms with one another is communication. I know that sounds so cliche, but communicating really does help two people stay on the same page while aiding in understanding the other persons needs.
If you could only describe the house in three words, what would they be?
It's difficult to put into three words. We have been joking that our design aesthetic is 80's, Retro, European, but in the end I really think our goal is to pass on our passion for living unconventionally and living well. We love making meaningful connections with friends, enjoying the magic of food, experiencing novelty, busting a move in the kitchen... Ok, that's definitely more than three words– we will stop.