July 17, 2024

Dragon Esdelsur

Home Sweet Home

Hudson Felt Too Much Like a City, So It Was Time for a New Upstate Retreat

When Anthony D’Argenzio began visiting Hudson, N.Y., with its aged brick buildings, antiques shops and growing cultural scene, about a decade ago, it seemed like more than just a nice place to spend some time. It was somewhere, he thought, that he could realize his creative and entrepreneurial dreams.

“I was just really drawn to Hudson because of the architecture, the history and the photo-worthiness of it,” said Mr. D’Argenzio, 35, who previously lived in Manhattan, where he worked as a creative director and prop stylist for photo shoots. “I was coming up here a lot to source antiques and whatnot, and it seemed like a perfect next step to me.”

So in 2014, he and his wife, Hillary D’Argenzio, 37, a sommelier, bought a weekend home in Hudson, before moving there full time in 2018. Along the way, Mr. D’Argenzio parlayed his knack for composing interiors with patina into a multipronged business propelled by Instagram. Under the moniker Zio and Sons, Mr. D’Argenzio now works as an interior and product designer, stylist and photographer who prizes vintage charm and rooms with a tastefully timeworn look. With his company This Old Hudson, he buys and renovates old houses that he and Ms. D’Argenzio rent on Airbnb. He also works as a real estate agent with Houlihan Lawrence.

But with so many business interests in Hudson, the small city that once felt like an escape from Manhattan no longer seemed quite as relaxed. So the couple decided to buy another getaway home. “We wanted something that had a little nature,” Mr. D’Argenzio said. “We wanted to create a country home.”

They didn’t need to look far beyond Hudson’s borders to find trees and open fields, and eventually settled on a log cabin of about 2,000 square feet just a 20-minute drive north from their primary home. Built in the 1970s and heavy with dark-stained wood and hunting trophies, it wasn’t an obvious choice for a couple who loved older, sunnier homes. But they saw potential.

“It was totally not my typical aesthetic,” Mr. D’Argenzio said. “But we were really just drawn to the setting — it’s on five acres, and very peaceful — and the character.”

They bought the house in October 2020 for about $225,000, and got to work making it their own with a team of contractors. Outside, they stained the logs inky black. To brighten the interior, they cut more, and larger, openings for windows and doors.

“It completely transformed the house,” said Mr. D’Argenzio, who learned about log-cabin construction techniques on the fly. “To go bigger on a window in a log home, you literally cut through the logs with a chain saw. At times, we were going two to three logs up to make the interior feel taller, lighter, brighter.”

They sanded the existing pine floors and finished them with a water-based clear coat that won’t yellow over time. They ground away the dark stain on the log walls and gave them a translucent whitewash treatment. Overhead, they stripped the exposed beams to bring out the saw marks and natural variation in the wood. “It was a lot of tedious hours,” Mr. D’Argenzio said.

Because it was impossible to run new electrical wiring and plumbing lines through the solid-wood walls, he decided to leave those elements exposed. “There was a learning curve because everything had to be surface-mounted,” he said.

Now, a neat installation of metal conduit branches across beams and the ground-floor ceiling to deliver power to new light fixtures that Mr. D’Argenzio built from antique parts. And copper pipes descend from holes in the ceiling, snaking above the kitchen sink, to ferry water to and from the basement.

For the new kitchen, Mr. D’Argenzio installed thin-brick flooring and added a mix of contemporary and antique cabinets topped by marble counters cut from salvaged slabs. Above the range, he covered a hood with zellige tile from a collection he designed for Clé.

Upstairs, he transformed one of the home’s three bedrooms into a large bathroom for the primary suite, with room for a shower, a free-standing tub in front of a window and a vanity with two sinks. “The only way to get all of those elements in one space was to take over another bedroom,” Mr. D’Argenzio said.

He used three styles of tile to finish the floor and walls, and added white Carrara marble trim. “It’s all about mixing up materials,” he said.

In the bedrooms, he hung wallpaper he designed for A-Street Prints: one pattern resembling Venetian plaster in the primary bedroom and another with vertical floral stripes in a bedroom for the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Havana.

By the time the work was completed this past November, they had spent about $200,000 — probably less than most people would pay for a similar renovation, Mr. D’Argenzio said, thanks to his business relationships and professional discounts. Next, he and Ms. D’Argenzio plan to tackle the landscaping and renovate an in-law suite above the garage.

With their country and city homes so close together, the family is now spending roughly equal time in each, Mr. D’Argenzio said, with few concerns about travel.

“People have these country homes that are, like, three hours away, so they never go,” he said. “We just Ping-Pong between the two.”

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