How an N.Y.C. Couple Turned a Cabin in the Woods Into Their Rustic Escape

Natale Adgnot didn’t always see the appeal of owning a cabin in the woods.

For years, her husband, Sebastien Adgnot, browsed listings for rustic homes in upstate New York and New Jersey from the couple’s apartment in Brooklyn. “But my wife told me, ‘There’s no way I’m going to spend my weekends in a lake house somewhere,’” said Mr. Adgnot, 45, who works in internet technology and is an avid fly fisherman.

“I really am such a city person,” said Ms. Adgnot, 49, an artist. The idea of buying a house in the country was a nonstarter because she loved the energy and artistic community in New York, assumed she could produce work only in an urban studio and disliked the idea of spending money on a second home.

The arrival of the pandemic gave Mr. Adgnot an opening. When living and working at home with their child, Esmé, now 16, began to feel cramped, Ms. Adgnot agreed to try renting a house in Livingston Manor, N.Y., for a month in the summer of 2020.

And once she got there, she fell in love. “I dragged all my art supplies up there and had this revelation: I can actually do my work outside of New York City,” she said. She also discovered that the area had a flourishing art scene. And she had to admit there was something nice about waking up among the trees.

By the time that month was up, the couple had decided to find a house they could buy — and discovered that there were countless other New Yorkers doing the same thing. With few properties available, they took a closer look at a disheveled log house in New Paltz, built from a kit in the 1980s, that they had previously ruled out after looking at the listing photos.

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