Author Archives: Megan

UPSTATE JANE: Keeping Warm and Keeping Modern, In An Upstate House

Why is it always such a difficult process to merge form and function? Since moving into my new home Upstate full-time, I have discovered an ugly fact. I was aware that this new home heats with oil (much to my chagrin and irritation) and I assumed down the line I would have to make the necessary environmentally friendly and energy-efficient changes for our budget and my peace of mind. What I didn’t realize, is that to fill my 275 gallon tank of oil, I would pay $800.00. I also didn’t realize that this 275 gallon tank would last me a month. This is not cranking the heat, but keeping the indoor temperature around 65 degrees. My last house had 3 smart heating solutions. It had a propane back up for creating instant heat when coming inside, it had zoned baseboard heat (rarely used, but on thermostats, convenient and efficient) and it had a wood stoves.  All this combined to a very inexpensive heating source. We were also weekender’s and the old home was 1100 square feet as opposed to 2000. It is something to seriously consider when looking for a home, especially larger homes than 2000 square feet. I just think back to the old mansions I had been pondering!

Fast forward to full-time living and working from home, with a more expensive oil based central heating system, and you are slapped with $800.00 a month during the winter. Well considering our mortgage payments are not much more than that, we cannot “wait” to make the changes, we have to do it…well…NOW. I needed to get a woodstove insert for our large fireplace to act as a furnace/primary heat source.


I recently visited a local shop, and was quite disappointed by the lack of modern or contemporary wood stove inserts for your fireplace. I assumed I may have to pay more for a design that would aesthetically work in our modern home- but I assumed there would at least be one option.  Though not at this store, there are some cool modern free standing wood stoves and fireplaces, see my URBAN JANE post) At this local store I found country wood stoves (great for a different style home) heavy cast iron stoves that protruded far out of the fireplace, and then typical wood stoves with scrolling and ornate details. The salesman suggested I just place one of these wood stoves in front of my fireplace. These solutions are fine for a farmhouse, or an older home- but a home that is about clean lines and modern minimalism an ornate wood stove sitting in front of a linear limestone fireplace, just can’t work.

I was then shown gas fireplace inserts to use propane with. Now propane is the more environmentally friendly option over wood (to some)since it burns cleaner and less carcinogenicity, but it is not necessarily a renewable “green” resource.  It costs about the same to heat as with wood, (Unless you scour for your own decent fallen trees and cut it all yourself and stack 50 cords out back for years down the road.) These models were much slicker looking, and granted they come with no muss or fuss, less maintenance, and can be controlled by a thermostat and timer just like a regular furnace. However, you don’t get that real fire feeling or sound or smell. Is it worth it?

I decided there must be a more attractive wood stove insert out there than this shop was showing me (even though they claimed there was not) When I asked him  about Wittus (whom they did not carry)  he claimed they did not make a wood stove insert like that, and that in Europe they will heat with 3-4 free-standing wood stoves. I then realized I needed to do more of my own research since I knew for a fact that there were some great models in Europe, and there must be some available here to purchase in the U.S.

Below are a few models I have found that are contemporary to modern and offer a high BTU output. They should be able to heat a 2000-2500 square foot home in the winter. However, remember they will not heat your water, so you are still left with your oil heater if you don’t replace it for a propane or electric hot water heater.

The first model is a Wittus wood burning insert- and though expensive (I have read approximately $4,000.00) At $800.00 a month for oil, it would be worth it.

The Optifire Zero Clearance Fireplace (up to 50,000 BTU and heats up to 2500 square feet in the greenest manner possible)  and the H530 insert (up to 30,000 BTU and heats up to 1500 square feet respectively)

The next is Morsø 5660 NA woodstove Fireplace Insert (up to 50,000 BTU and up to 2200 square feet) The viewing window for the fire is smaller and the surround is larger, but this is also a more environmentally friendly stove. It runs approximately $3100.00

They also make another less expensive model which has the same BTU and space heating qualities but it slightly smaller for $2750.00

The last woodstove insert is the FPX 33 Elite Plus Wood Insert wood insert (heats up to 2000 square feet) but does not seem to display all the green qualities. The price seems to be a bit lower though, in the $2000.00 range before add on’s.

Now for the Gas Fireplace’s. These typically cost less money but depending on whom you speak to are more environmentally friendly, are more fuss free, yet also don’t kick out the jams like the wood stoves do, although they claim the same BTU and square foot coverage.

The FPX 34 DVL GSR Insert (up to 40,000 BTU and heats up to 2000 square feet)

two different surrounds with decent looking fronts, both the same fireplace

The next is the Avalaon 33 DVI Gas Fireplace- heats up to 2000 square feet and 40,000 BTU’s

Avalon Gas Fireplace

The last is the Napoleon Inspiration GDI44 heats up to 2500 square feet at 44,000 BTU’s- Remember these are just the inserts you see (not the “fireplace hearths”)

UPSTATE JANE: Fixer Upper in Bearsville NY with potential income property 119K

I have been watching this property for a while now…(over a year) and the price keeps going down, it is now at 119K!~

I have peeked around and there are clearly reasons for the price tag. It is a true fixer upper. It appears to have possible foundation problem mainly. Also the siding would have to be replaced, along with  I am sure potential mold problems. It does however have an amazing fireplace, vaulted ceilings, a dining room, grand staircase, and is on a great convenient piece of property with an outbuilding that could easily be converted to an income unit with the addition of a bathroom. (It has a kitchen already) So if you are really looking for a “fixer upper”, and one with potential for income- this may be it.  For full listing click here

Beds:2 Bed  Baths:1 Bath   House Size:1,326 Sq Ft   Lot Size:0.68 Acres

Upstate Jane: Short Sale Deal on Gorgeous 5b/2b Home in West Shokan with pool

Back in the day (meaning the 40’s) this was the “Fine and Dandy Inn”, now it is a gorgeous home with a killer lot and a pool. Check out the kitchen, the character, the great room with the fireplace, etc. Now listed for 399K with the caretaker cottage and extra land etc., or listed for 325K without (subject to bank approval) it is finally somewhat affordable. I watched this home start out in the 500K range, so I only admired but never toured it. Someone may get a great home for all of your family holiday gatherings…Rent out the guest house to supplement your mortgage, or rent out the house for weddings when you want some extra cash…It has a bar!  Beds:5 Bed Baths:2 Bath House Size:3,733 Sq Ft Lot Size:1.30 Acres

Upstate Jane: Hey singles or cozy couples, a weekend escape 75 minutes from Manhattan for 194K

Located in Highland Mills at the end of a cul-de-sac, with easy access to 87 and also near scenic Route 9, this little ranch has all the makings of a sweet weekend escape, featuring a huge kitchen for major cooking, an open layout, wraparound deck, and soaring ceilings. It is turn-key, but with a few more high-end finishes, it could be amazing! For 194K your mortgage payment would be approximately $750 a month.

Beds:1 Bed Baths:1 Bath House Size:937 Sq Ft Lot Size:0.59 Acres  For full listing click here

I can see some grilling on that deck and soaking in a hot tub. I can see that wood stove crackling and an amazing meal being prepared while sipping wine in the great room. At 975 square feet, it isn’t large, but it is quite spacious for a 1 bedroom, and big enough to have a nice sectional for guests to sleep on. Plus there is a walkout basement! The best thing is…this close to Manhattan, your guests don’t have to spend the night anyhow! A little over an hour is like me visiting my friends in Brooklyn or vice versa.

Upstate Jane: 2 Handmade Woodstock Homes- 1b/2b for 275K and 2b/1b for 139K

For over a hundred years…Long before the famous concert borrowed the town’s name, Woodstock has been home to artists, craftsman, musicians, activists and eccentrics looking to flee the city and live their lives simply and honestly surrounded by other bohemian’s that would celebrate and embrace community living, and passions that main stream society wasn’t ready to accept or fully respect. When the American Dream was still about finding your own way and doing it yourself, many of these people did not “buy” homes when they fled the city, but instead built them by hand with local materials found on the land, and down the creek in the area. With the help of the community and perseverance  (plus a lack of clear town building codes and permits I am assuming) they created some of the most ingenious and interesting homes around. Four generations later, some of these homes still exist today and are even available on the market. You can view these homes in the 1974 published book aptly titled “Woodstock Handmade Houses” by Robert Haney and David Ballantine, available on I was lucky enough to find this book thrown for the trash on a W. 70th Street curb in Manhattan on our way back from…yes, Woodstock.

The Maverick Concert Hall above

Hervey White was the Harvard educated “grandaddy” of the local handmade house phenomena,  leader of the Maverick Festival and original management team of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, also in Woodstock. An idealist to an extreme, Hervey helped build hundreds of handmade homes with and for people, as if scattering seeds across Woodstock’s landscape during the initial years of the  Festival in the 1900’s and beyond.

Below are two “handmade homes” available to purchase currently in Woodstock. There are more though, if you look hard enough.

For 275K, this 1954 handmade home has a warm, rustic and open layout that seems ideal for a couple or single person’s weekend retreat. Full of quirky and efficient details, this is the quintessential handmade house. Featured in the 1974 book, this home is ready for a new loving owner. Click here for the listing. Also available to rent for $150.00 a night.

Beds:1 Bed Baths:2 Bath House Size:1,480 Sq Ft Lot Size:2.93 Acres

Potentially one of the first Maverick Homes, this stone cottage for 139K, is across the road from the Maverick Concert Hall, and was built in 1910. Along with its neighboring Maverick Festival homes, it is once again a quintessential antique handmade home.  I can picture Hervey White placing the stones and mortar of this house alongside his fellow festival attendees. (The likes of Isamu Noguchi and Russell Wright)

Set into the hillside, this adorable 2 bedroom/1 bathroom home is in a convenient location and would be easy to maintain. Click here for the full listing.

Beds:2 Bed Baths:1 Bath House Size:875 Sq Ft Lot Size:0.68 Acres

Turn-Key Farmhouse worthy of Country Home Magazine in Port Ewan for 238K

503 MILLBROOK DRIVE, PORT EWEN, NY.This  farmhouse/cottage has been on the market since at least this summer…Built in 1903, this 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home is 1496 square feet and has been very tastefully renovated. It has special outdoor spaces that beg for lounging, gardening, lemonade, and dinner parties.

A total turn-key property for those looking for a reasonably priced cottage with many upgrades in a convenient location. Port Ewan is directly across the Hudson from the Rhinecliff train station and Route 9W runs through the main corridor. Within 5 minutes to Kingston NY, you will have anything you need, within 15-20 minutes you will have vineyards, antique stores and apple picking.

For the full listing click here

Beds:3 Bed Baths:2 Bath House Size:1,496 Sq Ft Lot Size:1.00 Acres Listing Agent: Sharon Breslau of Westwood Metes & Bounds Realty


Upstate Jane: FIXER UPPER ALERT! A Bed and Breakfast or Hotel waiting to be re-born for 89K

By complete chance, I happened to drive by this historical looking mansion the other day on my way from Woodstock to Kingston. Just outside Saugerties in Lake Katrine, on Leggs Mill Road I passed an 1800 Edwardian masterpiece with a “for sale” sign. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it was on the market previously! I looked it up, and realized why. It is only 89K and it needs a total re-haul- but for someone with a desire to move up here full-time to run a bed and breakfast, boutique hotel, artist in residency housing, or just restore an old mansion to its glory days- this is a great piece of property to do it. With 17 rooms,  1.80 acres, right near the water, and between Kingston and Saugerties it is convenient but quiet and definitely seems worth a further investigation! Click here for the full listing.

Beds:7 Bed Baths:2 Bath House Size:3,213 Sq Ft Lot Size:1.80 Acres

Upstate Jane: Ultra Modern Masterpiece in Accord on over 4 acres for 395K

If you have been looking for that perfect move in ready modern weekend retreat, this may be it. Set on over 4 acres of wooded wonderland, this  home features high-end appliances in the open kitchen, an energy-efficient wood stove and a loft like grandiosity with repurposed steel beams from NYC, complimented by the 16 feet windows that allow all of nature to be your neighbors in this steel and glass tree house. It is hard to believe this home was built in 1994! There are over 2,000 square feet and 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms. The listing has been on the market since 10/29/11.  For the full listing click here

Beds:2 Bed Baths:2 Bath House Size:2,133 Sq Ft Lot Size:4.30 Acres

Upstate Jane: The Renovation of Our Weekend Home, Part 2

So when I left off we had just had a slam dunk success in the first 3 months of owning our weekend home in terms of the renovations we had done. With proper prep and research we had accomplished quite a bit in 3 months time considering we were only there on the weekends. Our contractor did a great job in materializing the design I had created for the kitchen. We were pumped! We also noticed though how a brand new kitchen and floors and partially new guest bath can start to make other flaws glaring! Suddenly our living room seemed shabby. The orange built in’s we had left up from the original owner along with the taupe/tan humongous forced air propane heater were like a big ugly blemish.

My husband and I debated over what color we should paint the built in. We had always assumed we would be rebuilding it at some point. We liked the contrast visually, but it wasn’t exactly originally built the best and there were somethings that were best left un”highlighted”  I had a friend up for the weekend and decided to just paint it white, to let the objects really pop and show off their form more. Here it is before…

And here it is after we painted! I decided to take a risk and paint the propane heater white as well, to help it disappear…it worked!

Once we finished this project, we were all set for the bathroom work to begin. My parents were going to visit in late June, early July,  and I wanted the master bath to be finished by then. We were told it would begin in May/June and would be done in a month. I was so excited! I started ordering away! I had pretty much everything ready except for the tub! My design was ready, my materials were here, my estimate in hand, my schedule was on track!!! Then we waited…and waited…and more waiting…my parents pushed their visit to August…and we waited more. My contractor was so far behind! Now most people would say, why didn’t you just go with someone else?! Fool! HA! I can only explain it like this…my contractor to me is like that guy/girl you had a crush on, that you are willing to wait for until they are “ready” to notice you. I will WAIT for him. We work so well together, and he does such a good job in building my designs, that I needed to hold out for him. Well guess what…I waited until the end of OCTOBER before he started working on the bathroom. Yeah. So lesson learned. I mean, I will still wait for him…but I learned I need to really make sure he is going to START the job when he says. Do I sound like an abused spouse?  It took a long time, since he was working on multiple jobs, and the project  wasn’t finished until JANUARY. A far cry from the kitchen’s speed! To be fair, we were also waiting on the plumber as well,  but…when it was done…wow. Watch the transformation here from weird office/sauna room to my master bathroom, and read more here, then here, and finally hereRead the rest of this entry

Upstate Jane: Gorgeous Dutch Architect Designed Home with Pool on 3.3 acres- 299K

88  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 12780

Swoon. This home is a show piece. Located in Sparrowbush (Near Middletown) this 4 bedroom/2.5 bath home has unbelievable soaring wood ceilings, large finished basement, a huge fireplace, floor to ceiling windows and a pool all on 3.3 acres. All of this and…wait…mountain views.

View the photos below, and see the full listing here

88  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 1278088  HARTWOOD CLUB ROAD Sparrowbush, NY 12780

Property Features

Fireplaces:  1

Air Conditioning:  None

Garage Parking:  0

Area Location:  Deerpark Town

Driveway Description:  Blacktop

Garage Configuration:  None

Heat Zone:  3

Heating Fuel:  Oil Above Ground

Heating Type:  Hot Water, Steam

Property SQFT

Sqft Finished Approx:  2216

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