Welcome to My Life at Home, where we slow down for just a minute to share a glimpse into the lives of food lovers we'd love to get to know better. Kick off your shoes and get comfy!
As a native New Yorker, my love for this city runs deep. I am quick to defend it to anyone who dares speak ill of it; and I'll never admit to any other city coming even close to comparing.
I am most definitely not immune to the occasional daydream of making an escape—somewhere with more space, somewhere with fresh air, anywhere I can bolt from the weight of daily commuters, pressing deadlines, and pungent summer smells in the concrete jungle. I don't think I would ever act on this passing thought; but it's so nice to dream, isn't it?
Well, interior designer Megan Pflug managed to successfully act on her dreams. The can-do Midwesterner ("I always joke that I have pioneer skills") and former Brooklynite found a lodge waiting to be loved in upstate New York, set against the Catskill mountains. Last year, she and her husband bit the bullet, headed to the town of Greenville, New York—and the rest, they say, is history.
"We found the lodge and then moved," she tells me matter-of-factly. "We were looking for a way to start a business that allowed us to live outside of the city and the stars just aligned. It was something I had been thinking about for a long time."
Swoon. If only it were that easy, and Megan admits it's a journey that isn't short of highs and lows. Just a little more than a year after moving, they opened The Woodhouse Lodge earlier this summer, transforming the property into a 10-room Shaker-meets-mid-century modern hotel on the first floor and a light-filled 2-bedroom apartment for Megan and her husband on the second floor.
Scroll through for a visit of the lodge Megan calls both work and home.
HANA ASBRINK: Hi Megan, tell us a bit about yourself.
MEGAN PFLUG: I started out in the fine arts and pretty quickly realized that I was as interested in the spaces where art would live as much as the actual pieces of art. In this way, I always had my toe in two worlds. I love interior design because it allows me to make one of everything.
I grew up in Missouri, with a grandmother and a mother who were always sewing and making. They have this pioneer resourcefulness and a DIY sensibility that’s pretty pervasive in the Midwest. It was funny to move to the East coast and realize that everyone isn’t crafty. I always joke that I have pioneer skills.
HA: Your journey from Brooklyn to the Catskills sounds downright inspiring. How did it all happen?
MP: I have always loved upstate New York. Luckily, in the last few years, it seems that the cultural sea of makers, business owners, chiefs, etc., has exploded to the point where living and working upstate seemed like a viable option. It feels like Brooklyn in my early days, pumping with creative energy and ripe with space for creative people to occupy.
HA: Tell us about The Woodhouse Lodge and your unique living accommodations.
MP: The Lodge itself is a 10-room hotel with an A-frame in the center. The first floor of the A-frame is a common space with an open kitchen and lounge with a large fireplace.
The second floor of the A-frame is where we live. It's a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 1-kitchen (which we are are renovating) space with a great view. The windows are huge and our cats love the transition from Brooklyn apartment-sized windows to the glass wall of windows they have access to now. I also have upped my houseplant ratio now that our living space is essentially a greenhouse.
HA: Tell us about the eating and dining arrangements.
MP: We do a simple breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We are hopefully expanding our food and beverage program over the course of the next year. Also, we have snacks for sale in the kitchen.
As far as cooking in the kitchen, that's reserved for guest chefs (doing pop-up dinners in the near future) and guests who buy out the whole hotel for events like weddings or birthday parties. We also have a second building in the works that will be exclusively dedicated to events and food. We also have a few bbq grills on the ground, and people are more than welcome to grill outside.
HA: What drew you to the lodge and what is your favorite feature of both the lodge and your apartment?
MP: We thought that we were looking for an older building, but this space fits the bill in terms of the layout, and the A-frame gives the space such a unique look.
My favorite feature of our apartment is the ceiling. It is so nice to have big windows and high ceilings after living in Brooklyn for years.
HA: What are your favorite decorative pieces?
MP: Right now my favorite decorative pieces are our mostly vintage. We sourced vintage rugs from Revival Rugs, and those add a tone of character to the space. The fact that they are overdyed gives them a modern feel. I love to mix modern pieces with antiques and build a space that feels collected rather than decorated. I really feel that most styles have something great to offer. The principles of good design extend beyond any particular style.
Of the new pieces, I love our linen chairs by Noir, from Perigold. They have a vintage shape but a modern upholstery job, and they are also really comfortable. I DIY-ed about a zillion Shaker peg rails for the lodge. In the guest rooms, I used them to hang our custom headboards made by Brooklyn leather studio Moses Nadel. It was essential to me to work with brands and products that I loved when I was sourcing for the lodge. Our mattresses are also a total favorite of mine; they are from U.S.-based Luft and people love them.
HA: How hard (or easy) has it been dreaming up the lodge's aesthetic?
MP: I design pretty intuitively, but one thing I knew going into this space was that I did not want it to be overly mid-century. The impulse with modern architecture is sometimes to decorate very literally with pieces from the era of its origin. I feel like that approach can look cartoonish and ultimately doesn't let a space evolve. I tried to honor the MCM era while mixing it up.
I used Shaker rails in most of the rooms. The Shakers were the original modernists, I think, and they lived in this part of the country. I also collected a lot of vintage and antique pieces from the area so even though they are not "modern," they are regional; I think that helps the mix feel grounded.
HA: What do you love most about living in the country?
MP: The trees and the wildlife.
HA: What do you miss most about N.Y.C. life?
MP: Eating out, hands down!
HA: You're no stranger to home renovations. Can you share a pro tip or two with us?
MP: Renovating is hard, even if you are not DIY-ing it, so my number one tip is to be realistic in terms of time and budget. It's ideal if you can to not live in a space while it's undergoing renovations. However, I know that's not always possible. Also, you don't have to change everything to "refresh" a space. Sometimes paint is all you need. You would be surprised at how simple changes can really transform a space. I always think of a quote by Arthur Ashe who said, "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can." I think that's great advice for living and renovating.
HA: What are some of the challenges of living where you work?
MP: Do you remember that story from The New Yorker last year where the person working from home called 911? That perfectly outlines the challenges. I've always preferred to work from home, but you do have to give yourself structure. For me, my home has always been a testing ground for creative ideas so it's not unlike an artist studio. I'm always rearranging things in our personal space; it's part of my processes and also a good break for writing emails.
HA: It's great to hear you have fellow entrepreneurial creatives to lean on for support and inspiration.
MP: We are lucky to have made friends with a lot of business owners who run the gamut from designers, artists, and chefs. All of our branding work was done by Susan Baldaserini from Pilothouse Paper. She has a really great shop and studio space in Coxsackie. Across the street, she and her husband Shai own our favorite natural wine shop, the Reed Street Bottle Shop. Shai is a former chef, and they bring in such delicious and unique wines!
HA: What's your organizing style?
MP: Ugh, it's a struggle. I'm a list maker and if I can't see it I don't own it. Maybe that's why I'm such a fan of the Shaker pegs—you can see everything at once.
HA: Where can we find you on any given evening?
MP: Watching Netflix, drinking wine on the lawn, or listening to records.
HA: If your walls could talk, what would they say?
MP: I think this building is probably happy to be put back to her original use... The Lodge was nearly vacant for a long time. I hope she would say, Thanks!
HA: How often do you guys cook and entertain at home?
MP: We cook nearly every night because our restaurant options are limited and that has been a big adjustment. We loved taking advantage of the great food N.Y.C. has to offer. On the flip side, we entertain a lot. As it turns out, it is much easier to convince friends to visit us at the lodge than it was to get them to come out to Brooklyn for dinner.
HA: What's on your playlist right now?
MP: Here's our current playlist (Editor's note: Thanks for sharing, Megan!). You'll find Erkin Koray, Sun Ra, and John Compton, among others, represented.
HA: Do you have a favorite Food52 recipe?
MP: Oh boy, where do I start? So these are my top shelf recipes. I've made them all A LOT:
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Do you ever dream of picking up and opening your own lodge/B&B/country store? Share your aspirations, big and small, with us below!