“Wanting to be upstate fulltime was the beginning, the seed, of the idea to open a B&B,” says Megan Pflug. An interior designer formerly based in Brooklyn, Pflug is now the coproprietor of Woodhouse Lodge, which she opened with her husband, J. Penry, an artist and DJ, last year in Greenville, NY near Greene County’s northern border. “We’d been coming upstate for a long time and really loved it, but it never seemed like there was quite enough going on up here to justify leaving careers and whatnot in the city,” she says. But, in 2017, her work life changed, and the timing seemed right for a move.
Pflug wrote a DIY decorating blog for home décor retailer One Kings Lane for four years. “I produced it and executed these crazy DIYs all over New York City,” she says. “It was super fun and totally a dream job, but also the kind of job that only exists in a start-up.” After Bed Bath & Beyond acquired One Kings Lane, Pflug decided to make her exit. As a “side hustle,” she was already doing interior design projects, having founded her own firm in 2016. Meanwhile, Penry worked in sales for outdoor advertising agency Milestone Outdoor (for which he continues working remotely while managing Woodhouse Lodge).
From Farmhouse to Motor Lodge
But then Pflug and Penry decided to become innkeepers. “I wanted to do a project that wasn’t pouring blood, sweat, and tears into something and then leaving it,” explains Pflug. “I wanted to evolve a project and keep making and designing things and events for it.”
Initially, they sought an antique farmhouse, but eventually, they spun their real estate time machine forward about a century. “Our realtor told us, ‘I don’t think this is what you’re looking for, but it’s kind of neat.’” One look at the motor lodge’s retro A-frame front, and Pflug responded, “Yup, this would work.”
The 1962 building was a shock at first, but its massive stone fireplaces, walls of windows, and vaulted ceilings convinced them. Renovation of the 5,000-square-foot hospitality space and the 800-square-foot private apartment upstairs took a year. Although the building had always operated as a motor lodge resort, it had lately fallen into obscurity and was in need of repairs. “We did a lot of the work ourselves to bring it back to that original state,” says Pflug. “I always joke that I have pioneer skills and that I settled on interior design because it was the biggest umbrella that could house my skill set. I’m definitely a maker at heart. It has been fun to design for this space and incorporate some traditional antiques—there are so many good ones up here—and make it make sense in this midcentury building.”
She describes the end result as “midcentury Shaker with a touch of modern.” The Shakers religious sect, which fled persecution in England, settling near Albany in 1776, “were kind of the original minimalists,” she explains. “A lot of what they were doing was not dissimilar to modernist design. So I thought that would be kind of a fun jumping-off place. Saying this place is Shaker would be a gross overstatement, but I did use some of their ideas—like the peg rails that are throughout the house,” which she made herself. “I didn’t want the traditional Shaker rail, which is a little more delicate,” she says, “I wanted to do a modern take on them, so building them myself was just easier. Also, if I can build something, I will, because, usually, that is less expensive.”
A Cozy-Chic Getaway
The 10 guest rooms (sleeping up to 28 people) mix antiques and vintage pieces with new felt and leather headboards by Brooklyn design atelier Moses Nadel, and lamps from Hudson Valley Lighting. The mattresses, from LUFT, are covered with Brooklinen sheets. The bathrooms, which have retained their old-school tile and fixtures, are stocked with toiletries from Catskill apothecary Village Common. The modern kitchen—where Pflug and Penry prepare weekend breakfasts—features Alberene soapstone countertops, cabinets painted deep gray, a stainless-steel island and appliances, a black Moen pull-down faucet, and open shelving displaying white ceramics.
Pflug customized a cerused oak bar cabinet from New Traditionalists, filling it with the help of Reed Street Bottle Shop in Coxsackie, which also delivers cider and wine to guest rooms. The cozy shared lounge has dark gray walls, a Chesterfield sofa, and a Brady Bunch-worthy stone fireplace with piles of fluffy cushions for curling up.
The couple, who lives in the second-floor, two-bedroom apartment with their cat Kingsley and Phil the puppy, is also renovating a 3,500-square-foot former restaurant, with its own fireplace, on the property into an events space and wine bar, which opens this spring.
Decorating the private apartment was literally challenging. For the blog One Room Challenge, Pflug “carve[d] out a little piece of heaven among the insanity” of the renovation and made over the loft-like living area, as she posted, with vintage rugs, a farm table, a sleek Haiku ceiling fan, and a cushy leather sofa and club chairs. Flea market paintings and denim throw pillows add color. Light floods through the triangular wall of windows. The walls and beamed ceiling feel wide open in an understated pale gray, the TV and other electronics blend into a dark-blue wall, and the doors are black. (The apartment’s bedrooms and kitchen are next on Pflug’s to-do list.)
Adventures Al Fresco
The property’s four acres are scattered with Stori Modern lounges under sail shades; fringed hammocks swaying from tall trees; vintage Adirondack chairs around a s’mores-friendly fire pit; barbecue grills; and twinkly string lights.
Nearby are wilderness trails; antiquing venues; and hot spots like Catskill, Germantown, and Hudson. But Pflug prefers rural Greene County. “There are all these little towns with lots of little shops and the real estate is still pretty reasonable,” she says. “So that is the perfect breeding ground for people making cool things. Artists can have space to do projects and antique dealers don’t have to charge as much because their rent isn’t as high. There are so many neat things happening upstate now that it seemed like the right time to make a go of it up here.”