A Major Home Makeover That Got Everything Right

By Christine Chang Hanway
The Scenario
Designers Megan Sommerville and Matt Ensner decide to leave Brooklyn to escape rising rent prices. They resettle in the Hudson Valley and launch their furniture and lighting company Materia Designs.
The Solution
After looking at more than 40 properties, they buy a dilapidated 1940s Cape Cod–style bungalow in Ulster County with good bones and 13 acres of land (bluestone cliffs, a waterfall, and a crumbling outbuilding included). They sink their savings into the house, so the only way forward is to renovate it themselves. That means taking the house down to the studs and rebuilding it (yes, all electrical and plumbing, as well as walls, windows, and a back porch).
The Result
After a few rounds of "drywall parties" with friends from Brooklyn and three years of ongoing, intensive work, they achieve a homestead that reflects their commitment to time-tested design.
The Couple's Top Three Tips
1. If you plan to live on-site during the renovation, focus on finishing a space that's clean and separate, so you can maintain your sanity.
2. Spread out the large purchases — doing this allowed them to buy things that were made to last.
3. Have a detailed plan. Knowing what you want to do and how you're going to do it is very helpful in avoiding costly and time-consuming mistakes.
Click ahead for a tour of their completed home.
Photography by Poul Ober (unless otherwise noted).

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