Budget Breakdown: Weekend DIYers Renovate a Dated Catskills Retreat For $201K
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Budget Breakdown: Weekend DIYers Renovate a Dated Catskills Retreat For $201K

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By Michele Koh Morollo
New York City–based couple Danielle and Ely Franko share the renovation budget for the Hunter Greenhouse, a 1971 Catskills home that they purchased in 2016 and now rent out as a snug holiday home.

Tired of the hectic city grind, and yearning to be closer to nature, urbanites Danielle, a dermatology physician assistant, and Ely, who works in software development, purchased a 1,522-square-foot house in the mountainous Tannersville village in Greene County, about a two hour’s drive north of New York City.

They had made their purchase on impulse, and didn’t even realize how close the house was to North-South Lake and Kaaterskill Falls, two of the biggest hiking attractions in the Catskills. 

The Frankos spent two years renovating the house, and now rent out the Hunter Greenhouse through Airbnb, so others can enjoy their efforts, and this beautiful part of the world. 

The exterior of the Hunter Greenhouse before the renovation.

After the renovation, the Hunter Greenhouse was painted green to match the trees around it, earning it its name.

They kept things clean and simple with natural tones and organic materials in the form of wood, textiles, and plants, and ensured that the interior design highlighted the best features of the house—the large windows and 16-foot high ceilings.

"We really didn’t have any experience taking on a project of this scale," says Ely. "We’re both generally impulsive people, so we purchased this house—which was a broken shell of a space— with really no plan on how to proceed."

Upon removing the linoleum flooring, they were delighted to find high-quality, hardwood floors underneath. 

It took them three attempts to get the beautiful kitchen cabinets perfectly level. 

"We live and work in New York City, so the only time we had were the weekends," says Ely. "We'd drive two hours north on Friday night and come back as late as we could manage on Sunday. We worked on the house every weekend for two years."

The new kitchen and dining area enjoys lots of natural light.

Danielle was in charge of painting, which took about three months to complete. 

The fresh, white interiors help the home feel more spacious and offset the exposed wood beams.

"It’s hard to talk about this project without having simultaneous feelings of relief," says Danielle. "We worked on the house tirelessly for over two years. That sounds like a tremendous amount of time to work on anything, but while we were in it, not having any firm grasp of when it would be completed, it felt like an eternity."

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The living and dining area opens out to a spacious raised deck.

The Hunter Greenhouse is a warm and stylish holiday retreat in the Catskills.

Before, the old house had water-stained walls, cheap linoleum flooring, beams painted a dull chocolate brown, and a garish pink kitchen counter.

The house has two levels, and a lofted lounge in the front section of the upper floor.

A lounge area sits at the top of the staircase landing.

Ely took four months to sand and refinish every beam in the house.

A succulent wall adds texture and greenery to the home.

Danielle and Ely Franko relax with their pooch in the loft area.

From the living lounge, wooden stairs lead up to the bedrooms.

Once the tiling, grouting and painting were gone, they began having fun with the design, layout, and furnishing. 

"It’s like a puzzle that you slowly piece together," says Danielle. "You don’t know what will work or won’t work, but it’s fun seeing your ideas come to life. We’re located in a beautiful area of the world; we wanted our house to reflect that."

A hammock swings in one of the bedrooms.

Carefully selected textiles and potted plants give the rooms a warm and cozy feel.

They had tiled half the upstairs bath and the shower room on the ground level before realizing that they tiles were crooked. In both instances, they carefully removed each tile, scraped the mortar off, and started again.

The old bathroom had Formica wood paneling and a yellow tub. 

A guest bathroom is located near the top of the stairs.

Find out more about this creative couple @thehuntergreenhouse, or visit thehuntergreenhouse.com to book yourself a stay. 

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