Early Adopters of Remote Work, They Moved Upstate Before Covid

One couple from Washington, D.C. was drawn by the dream to live in the country and bought a ramshackle house in Ulster County, N.Y. Sharon Lipovsky, Colin Phillips, were ahead of the curve. They were ahead of the curve when they left Washington, D.C., to pursue their dream of a country life. Ms. Lipovsky, an executive coach, could run her business, Point Road Studios, from a laptop, and Mr. Phillips, who works in communications for the Transportation Security Administration, predicted (correctly) that his employer would be open to a remote working arrangement.ImageSharon Lipovsky and Colin Phillips (with their children, Iggy, Crosley and Henrietta) left the Washington, D.C., area to renovate and expand an octagonal building in Mount Tremper, N.Y.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York TimesAfter spending a few weeks each summer at Mr. Phillips’s family camp in the Adirondacks, the couple were smitten with upstate New York. Ms. Lipovsky, 41 said, “It’s where the important things come forth.” You’re in nature, with your family, you are resting, eating well, and you’re gardening. It’s a beautiful, magical place. We thought, ‘Why can’t we have more of this, all of the time?'”But after making a stop in the Catskills during one of their annual pilgrimages, they realized they liked that area even more than the Adirondacks — a similar sense of escapism, but with an undercurrent of creative energy.ImageThe octagonal building at the center of their new home was once a preschool.Credit…Stacy Zarin GoldbergBack home, Ms. Lipovsky pored over real estate listings late into the night until she found a property that put an end to her scrolling. It was a five-acre parcel in an Ulster County hamlet named Mount Tremper. It had three main structures, not including smaller buildings for birds and chickens. Mr. Phillips, 41, stated that it was the second time in his life that my wife woke me up at night to check out a real estate site. “This is our house.” “And both times, they’ve lived in those homes.” Sure enough, when they finally visited it a few months later, the property looked perfect. It helped that Melissa Sanabria, Ms. Lipovsky’s client, was there to offer design advice and support. Ms. Mr. Phillips and Lipovsky closed on the property in August 2018 for $385,000. As rain began to fall, they set up an air bed under the skylight in the middle of the octagonal building. They congratulated one another on their purchase, and then they fell asleep. Their real estate agent introduced them to the builder Jeromy Wells, of Hudson Valley Homes & Renovations; he, in turn, introduced the couple to Kurt Sutherland, the principal of KWS Architecture.ImageThe study was originally supposed to be a playroom, but the children decided they’d rather play in the living room.Credit…Stacy Zarin Goldberg”The octagon building was similar to a yurt,” Mr. Sutherland said. It was not designed to be a home for a family, even though it was a beautiful structure. It was just a classroom. Mr. Sutherland designed an expansion to nearly quadruple the size of the 930-square foot octagon. He added a small volume on one side to serve as a foyer. On the other, he removed an old addition that had a bathroom and kitchenette. This was to make way to a new addition, which provides space for three bedrooms, a large kitchen, and a study. The basement below the bedrooms has a guest room and a gym. Concrete trucks were unable to get down the couple’s muddy road so the date for pouring the foundation was delayed. Contractors worked on the house while the family lived in the cottage. Concrete trucks couldn’t get down the couple’s muddy road, so work was delayed. In April 2019, work finally began. They installed cabinets made from deVol and textured Cloe tiles from Bedrosians Tile and Stone in the kitchen. They also painted the V-groove paneling in the study glossy green and added sliding barn door. However, Ms. Lipovsky says that they still have a hard time understanding what they accomplished. Then we are like, “We earned that.” It took us two years of hard work. Now it’s time for us to take it all in. Sign up here for weekly email updates about residential real estate news. Follow us on Twitter at @nytrealestate