Before and After: A Couple’s DIY Cabin Upstate, Redone During Quarantine

With all this time spent indoors, there has been a return to DIY on small projects: making a loaf of bread, for example, or sewing a quilt. Or, if you’re like Yi-Mei Truxes and her husband Gray Reinhard, hand-renovate an entire upstate cabin.

“I first stumbled across a listing for the cabin about six years ago on Airbnb and was immediately struck by the incredible views,” Yi-Mei explains. “I had never seen anything like it. We ended up staying there for a fall weekend with a group of friends and fell in love with the place. Two years ago when the couple (she is the founder of Bembien, a line of handcrafted woven products; he is the technical director / partner of a crowdfunding platform) started looking in the upstate for a cabin to withdraw from their base Originally in Greenpoint., Brooklyn, they remembered the cabin. “We found ourselves comparing every ad to this one … No place created that ‘there’s nowhere else that I would prefer’ feeling.” Well, it turns out the cabin did end up on the market later that year. Fate indeed.

Fast forward to March 2020, when the couple left Brooklyn and headed north to wait for the pandemic to end in their cabin. “We left town on March 12 thinking we would stay there for a few days, but ended up staying for over 100 days,” says Yi-Mei. “I can’t say that we were exactly planning to do some of these big renovation projects, but that’s what ended up happening.”

During those 100 days inside, the couple transformed the place from their dark, dated 1980s hunting lodge interior into a bright, whitewashed, calm place – all tinkered between the two. “Like most homeowners, we had an endless list of projects… from purely functional (ie leaks and broken water heaters) to larger cosmetic changes,” Yi-Mei explains. “One of the rare silver liners of the pandemic is that we suddenly found ourselves with time and the need to whittle down our list.

“We quickly got into a new daily rhythm of waking up early, managing our daily chores, and doing overnight renovations. Weekends were reserved for bigger, more destructive projects, like shaving logs in the main living space or pouring concrete countertops. Looking back, we are both extremely grateful that we had something like home improvement to keep us busy and motivated during this time.

Join us for a preview of the transformation (and scroll down to see what it looked like before).

Photograph courtesy of Yi-Mei Truxes.

After

& # 8
Above: “The cabin is located in the western part of the Catskills, in a small town called Downsville,” nestled among farmland and rolling hills, says Yi-Mei. “The hut itself is located on top of a small mountain and is only accessible on a private, windy, unpaved road one kilometer long.”

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