A site dedicated to home renovation, art & design.
Cultivate // Inspire // Kingston, New York.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Garden boxes are installed for our outdoor veggie and herb gardens!

Julian was hard working on our garden boxes this past weekend.  This will eventually house all our vegetables in one box, and all our herbs in the other box.  They're huge boxes, about 8'x8' each so they'll hold lots of fresh produce for us!

We bought the wood from Lowe's and they came weather treated so they won't warp or weather away in the years to come...  Since they already came in 8' lengths, no cutting was required, just wood boards, posts, and long wood screws required.  Minimal assembly.

Check out the before photos of the garden boxes:

Gabriel's Cafe- A hidden gem of local / organic foods

We just had lunch with Frank, our local Realtor in the Hudson Valley, at Gabriel's Cafe.  They just moved into their new spot in uptown Kingston.

Anyways Gabriel's has the best Arepas and Empanadas in town!  All their ingredients are fresh, organic, and they even have vegetarian/vegan options!!

Gabriel's Cafe also shares their space with a little Asian Grocier  (the only Asian store I've seen in Kingston so far! So if you're looking for Asian condiments/Kim Chee/rice, this is your spot).

For more options of where to dine and eat in Uptown Kingston and the Hudson Valley area, see our website for more at:


A couple photos of the food we just had there, mmm so tasty!!

316 Wall Street
Kingtson, NY

Soil / Mulch Dump at the Saint James

Yay!! And we have soil and a bunch of it... Ever wonder what 9 cubic yards looks like dumped in your back  yard?  Here's a video of the dirt / mulch dump in our back yard.  The flower beds and gardens are going to be very lush this year!!

If you're in the Kingston / Hudson Valley area.. The best place to get some dirt / mulch is from:
Croswell: Organic Soils and Mulches (www.croswellenterprises.com)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Event: Burning of Kingston Celebration / Event October 4, 5, 6, 2013

We just got word that The City of Kingston, Ulster County, several local historic sites and several re-enactor groups are planning a Burning of Kingston reenactment for October 4, 5, and 6 for 2013.  This only happens once every other year!  Tentative plans include activities and "battles" on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday and an 18 century ball at City Hall on Saturday evening.  Reenactor camps will be at Forsythe Park.  This event is a sure crowd pleaser for any family!

Anyone interested in participating can contact hyost87@yahoo.com  // Hank Yost, Sergeant // 1st Ulster Co. Militia

If you're looking for a beautiful place to stay during this weekend or any other weekend, please check out our Airbnb page for availability or email us at thesaintjamesny@gmail.com:

Kingston Farmer's Market

We can't wait for the Kingston Farmer's market to open back up again this May outdoors on Wall Street. It's the best place to get homegrown & organic foods. You can find everything from fresh meats, vegetables, breads, pastries, jam and jelly, fresh eggs, gourmet peanut butter, honey, wine, maple syrup, to heirloom seeds and so much more!  Its perfect for a morning outing with your partner, spouse, friends or family!  Our guilty pleasure is picking up a couple homemade cinnamon/sugar donuts, only 2 for a $1. Mmm mm delicious! And if you like pickles pick up a couple jars of Spacey Tracy's Pickles, they're one of our favorites!

The 2012 Kingston Farmers’ Market is located on Wall Street

in Kingston NY, and is open from May thru November,
every Saturday, 9 am - 2pm (rain or shine).
Come explore the beauty of the region and sample the bounty of the Hudson Valley harvest in our grower/producer market.

To find out more you can visit the Kingston Farmers' Market website at: http://www.kingstonfarmersmarket.org/

If you want to know more about where to eat and drink or shop in Kingston NY or the Hudson Valley area in New York visit our website's Eat and Drink, and Shop page:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kingston- A treasure chest full of local thrift stores, flea markets, estate sales and yard sales....

Last weekend, April 13th, was the first weekend of seeing yard sales up for the spring season.  We hit a couple of our favorite hot spots like Treasure Traders, Fairly New Thrift Store in Kingston NY, and a couple yard sales in Kingston...

Wow, we hit the jack pot between finding silver plated serving dishes to mid century warmer tables, paintings, and serving carts...

Kingston and the whole Hudson Valley area is known for all the great antique and thrift stores, flea markets, and yard/garage sales... With Kingston being the first Capital of New York State, it's one of the oldest cities so finding old colonial or anything vintage is very easy to come by... And the prices?  Pennies compared to what you would be spending in NYC!  Here's just a snapshot of a few items we picked up last weekend... Makes for a great elaborate dinner party...  Who's hungry??

Visit our website's shopping page to find out all the great shops in Kingston, New York and in the Hudson Valley:


Table setting fit for a royal, or something like that!

We had an amazing dinner the other week with some friends.  Perfect candle lit dinner with the candle chandelier lit and a center piece of beautifully arranged tapered candles.

Table Setting:  We chose copper charger plates (these are the plates that go under the main plates, purely decorative if you're wondering what these are).  We chose a silver rimmed white etched porcelain main dinner plate and topped with Ralph Lauren's Cocktail Lace patterned salad plates.  Name cards were also placed on the plates for a nice formal gathering with assigned seating.  We went to a dinner party not too long ago at Frank and Keith's and they had a rule of no COUPLES sitting next to each other... What a fabulous idea!!  We decided to do the same but assign who sits next to who...  I know it's pure evil but oh so much fun!  This is how new friends are made!

Flatware: The silver baroque flatware was super ornate and matched well with the versailles silver plated napkin rings.  To the far left of the plate is the salad fork and dinner fork closest to plate.  Knife to the right of the table setting and desert spoon parallel to top of plate.  Your glasses are always to the right of you (in case you ever wonder which glasses are yours!).

Wine glass: Beautiful gold leafed rimmed crystal stem glasses
Aperitif glass: Crystal small aperitif glass
Water: We chose a simple vintage juice glass to soften up the setting

Ralph Lauren Cocktail Dress Lace Plates

Vintage J&R / Obrien bricks from Kingston

Last weekend we acquired over 1,000 vintage bricks from an estate in Kingston...  Ever wonder what it takes to load a thousand plus bricks?  Julian and I took that challenge and rented a Uhaul van--we spent about 2 hours loading the van and about the same to unload them all!  Talk about a great bicep / tricep workout!!

So what's to become of these bricks?  A patio?  Walkways? Firepit?  Edging walls?  Koi pond?  You'll soon find out!  But in the meantime enjoy this photo of our quarter loaded van of bricks... ha ha  

Sewing and installing custom burlap curtains

For the Living Room Lounge we went to a local linen shop in NYC's garment district.  We chose a burlap for that natural but raw look.  It matches perfectly with our burlap Versailles chairs from Restoration Hardware!

In the family room we chose the same curtain fabric because of its versatility.  Linen burlap is great because of its hardy material.  Perfect for keeping the cold from entering the windows in the winter while creating complete privacy!  But it's also ideal for spring / summer because of its cool nature.  Linen/flax is known for its cooling properties so it'll keep the coolness inside the house as well during the hot months!

Here's Philippe hard at work sewing the custom 100"+ curtains for the home!  See the photos below for the works in progress.  Our dear friend, Estie, provided us with her mother's old sewing machine to sew these amazing curtains!!

TheSaintJamesNY website

The Saint James now has a website:  thesaintjamesny.com

View it now to see final stages of our Saint James' home.

AIRBNB.com - The Saint James, a Kingston New York Victorian home rental

And we're live on airbnb.com!  We chose to list our place on airbnb for times that we're not upstate so that others could enjoy our beautiful home also.  Need to know where to stay in Uptown Kingston, NY on your next visit?

View the link below to check out our page on airbnb or to book your weekend getaway or long vacation.  Forget about lousy hotels in Kingston, NY, rent an entire home!


Welcome to the Saint James New York:
The Saint James is an enchanting entire home for rent in Uptown Kingston. If you're looking for a something really special in uptown Kingston-The Saint James is perfect for that romantic weekend getaway or even a family trip upstate! View our guidebook for great things to do and see in the area.
View our website: TheSaintJamesNY ( . c o m ) There is a comprehensive list of restaurants, events and activities in area primarily focusing on Kingston!
The Saint James is a Beautifully restored 3 bedroom 1890’s Victorian home located in the historic Stockade district. We’re conveniently located in uptown Kingston- less than 2 hours from NYC and just a few minutes walking distance from the Kingston Trailways bus station ((website hidden)).
This cozy and spacious house is vacation ready and boasts 3 airy bedrooms that can sleep 6, large dining room, living room, parlor room, kitchen, 2 full baths plus gated front and gated backyard.
The Saint James is family friendly and has plenty of room to both relax and entertain in.

New Living Room Lounge with Fireplace

Remember the old photo of our living room with the "nonfunctional" fireplace?  It was actually one of the first rooms we were able to furnish, decorate and paint.  We chose these amazing chairs from Restoration hardware, they're the Versailles Canopy / burlap dome chairs... We also chose a "historic" dark muted green to paint the walls.

The paint: We chose Valspar because they have a line of "historic" colors, and because they have allergy free paints, visit the below link to learn more about this certified mold free, allergy friendly paint:


"Valspar+ is the first paint certified asthma & allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. More than just a premium paint, it provides a durable antimicrobial finish that is mold and mildew resistant. With no lingering odors and zero VOCs, you get a long lasting finish without adding asthma and allergy triggers." Valsparpaint.com

After photo:

Before photo:

Installing the white picket fence and arborvitae trees

What's a home without a white picket fence and tree lined yard?  We have no idea, so we did just that...  We hired handyman, John Mason, to do our fencing and what an amazing job him and his son did with it.

We, and what I mean by that is Julian and I, planted about 30 arborvitae trees along the fence.  This creates a living wall inside the white picket fence....  Soon it will create a natural barrier and fence in addition to the wooden fences.  Arborvitae's are evergreens so they last all year around, providing a nice green landscape throughout the year.  They're acid lovers so some natural acids will keep them bright green and lush!

Before and almost "after" view of the exterior paint job...

Wow, what an amazing difference just a couple coats of paint can do!!  We love the result and it brings us back to Amsterdam every time we pull up to the house...  Thanks Walter for the great paint job!

Exterior painting begins...

We hired a couple local painters in the neighborhood.  One advice we can give to other homeowners is to do a TEST paint before painting your entire house!  This seems like a no brainer but we weren't advised to do so and didn't even think about it.  Oh the rush of wanting to have everything done FAST! lol

A local neighbor, John, drove by our house and told us our house was baby blue!  We were mortified and didn't know what to do.. We called the painters and after multiple conversations we were advised that it was just the primer....  What a relief!!!  But lesson learned, duly noted, and mental note to self etched in!!

Here is a photo of the primer with just one coat of paint, be sure they use a primer first and 2 coats of paint to the exterior!  We chose a matte finish to give it a more authentic, vintaged look.

New Ceiling in the Family Room

After removing the cheap drop tile ceilings in a few rooms, a few of the ceilings were just not salvageable...  We opted for new sheet rock ceilings painted in white...  Notice the amazing plaster walls, after scraping all that wallpaper off the walls, a decade later, some pigments still appear on the original plaster walls.  We thought this was so beautiful we chose not to paint on top of these magnificent art walls.  Throughout the home, wherever we could save the plaster walls we did just that.  We kept the original plaster walls unpainted but treated with a clear varnish to preserve the walls and give it a nice semi-glossy finish.  It's so shabby chic and we love that we did not have to paint over these beautiful surfaces!

Painting the exterior- A rendering of Amsterdam in the making....

Paint choice is always a hard decision...  Julian and I went on an amazing trip to Amsterdam last year.  All the homes were painted in these rich grays, purple grays, and charcoals... We just couldn't get those images out of our head.  Our tip is to trust your gut and be able to tell a story.  We chose to match it back to one of our most inspiring trips to date!  Here is an illustration that I, Philippe Trinh, sketched out in Adobe Illustrator.. Wow was that a daunting task...  Who would have that the house had that many stones and slats on it! lol....  Here's the final rendering:

Demo mode.. And the walls and wallpaper all comes off!

About 90% of the home had wall papered walls or paneled walls.  All of this needed to be stripped off if we were to expose the original plaster walls.  

Wallpaper removal process: This painstakingly task requires a lot of work and just a few tools: wall paper stripper, wall paper steamer, wall paper scorer, sponges and paint scraper tools.  The best technique is to score the walls with a wall paper scorer, then sponge the walls with wall paper stripper.  Try pealing with your fingers if any panels come off easily... For all the harder spots you will need to use the steamer and paint scrapers to scrape out sections.  I'd recommend scraping small areas a couple feet x couple feet at a time.  Once the wallpaper dries from the wall paper remover, it'll adhere right back to its original state.  If you want to save a little on supplies, I heard a water and vinegar solution also does the trick! 

Photos below:  Below are some photos of a couple bedrooms in process of being stripped.   Now just imagine, we needed to do this to all 4 bedrooms plus the living rooms and dining room!  Wow did we have a lot of work in store for us!!  HELP!!!  

Living Room with non-functional fireplace, REALLY!?

The old linoleum tiles reminded me of the 70's, clearly not authentic to the home... Underneath  the tiles were amazing hardwood floors.  As you can see the floors were in pristine condition (see "after" photo).  They were in desperate need of a deep cleaning, sanding, and re-finishing!   We were told that the fireplace was not in "functional and working order".  The seller also advised us that there was no damper to close or open the chute.  Later we happily surprised to find out that it indeed had a damper and the fire place was in total working order! The living room is quite spacious with high ceilings...  After stripping away all the wood paneled walls and linoleum we were finally able to realize its potential!  Restoration Hardware, we'll be coming to you soon!

This old house

This old house...  Seems quite fitting for the state of the home when we first purchased it.  It's an old 1890 Victorian / Tudor house...  We were so enchanted by its merlons (the saw tooth effect) to the top of the house.  Structurally the house was very sound but it had a lot of cosmetic work needed.  Landscaping, trees, fencing?  Forget about it, it had none of the above!  Check out the before photos, before we started working  stripping it back to its original roots!