Right now, I’m in the middle of reading “And I Shall Have Some Peace Here,” the story of how Margaret Roach bid adieu to her life as a high-powered Manhattan media maven — she was a long-time editorial director at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and a New York Times editor — to live as a full-time country bumpkin and organic gardening blogger at her upstate New York weekend house. Stay tuned for a Q&A with Roach herself in the coming weeks …
I’m fascinated by city-dwellers who are able to stop everything and decamp to the country full-time to give their Thoreau-influenced fantasies a go. Since I certainly don't have the conjones to do something like this, a book like “And I Shall Have Some Peace Here” leaves me wondering how one can go about creating a country house in the city; a refuge that’s firmly planted on the grid but is at a certain remove from the things that make urban life so hellish, so spirit-deflating.
Well what do you know … today, the New York Times profiled Thomas Warnke, a 43-year old architect who found (via Craigslist!), purchased (a steal at $760,000) and extensively renovated (to the tune of $200,000 over three years) his very own "vacation cottage” in Brooklyn.
Warnke’s urban retreat came in the form of a dilapidated, 2-story carriage house built in 1899. The locale? The one that he had his heart set on all along and the one that I myself just happen to call home: the heavily industrial waterfront enclave of Red Hook. Warnke tells the New York Times: “Since I can’t afford a summer house, I thought, why not do it right here?”
The New York Times describes how Warnke went about transforming his in-need-of-TLC Craigslist find into a comfortable, full-time vacation home in the middle of Brooklyn:
The house retains its original brick facade, so it still blends in with the neighborhood. But the summer-cottage theme is immediately evident once you step through the front door, in the sleek white interior punctuated by purple, aqua and bright orange.
The garden in back completes the vacation cottage theme. 'I did everything myself: clearing the dead trees away, bringing the dirt in, building the walls and, finally, all the planting,' Mr. Warnke said. More recently, he put a vegetable garden and a deck with large planters on the roof.