Living Legacy: Preserving a 1730 Dutch Colonial Home

When Sveta and Joe Doucet saw the Dutch colonial house in New York’s bucolic Hudson Valley, it was love at first sight. Built in 1730, the home hit all their criteria (number of rooms, distance from NYC) – and then some.

But it wasn’t until they started renovations that they truly realized what a gem they had stumbled on.

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“The history began to reveal itself once we began to do some restoration,” says Joe, who took on the renovation project himself. The homeowners found historic artifacts and markings, and as they learned more about the house, they realized they had to rethink their design plans.

While the Doucets originally conceived of a “contemporary home within an antique shell,” the couple ended up developing a deep respect for the level of craftsmanship that went into the home and opted to preserve those features.

Uncovering beauty

The house was in decent shape when the Doucets  purchased it, so the renovations have primarily been cosmetic. For example, the floors had a century’s worth of paint layered on them, so the homeowners stripped the boards completely.

“We then chose to patch them in the traditional way Dutch floors were repaired in colonial times, with copper pieces nailed over holes,” explains Joe, “We love the effect it creates, and the authenticity and respect it imparts to the house.”

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For Joe, the biggest challenge has been “choosing to do a good deal of the work myself with absolutely no experience.”

While it took three times as long and cost twice as much as a professional would have been,  he says, “the upside is that I have a full new set of skills to match my new set of scars.”

A professional opinion

For those considering buying a historic home, Joe highly recommends getting a good inspector and engineer to thoroughly examine the home before purchasing.

“We knew from them that the bones were good, and had a fair approximation of the renovations required,” Joe explains. “We were able to negotiate with the sellers a bit when armed with this information. [Consulting the experts was] a very worthwhile investment.”

Overall, Sveta and Joe couldn’t be happier with their purchase, and are honored to be caretakers to this historic home. Now, as they look toward the future, they’re considering what mark they and their children will leave behind on the house, and what stories they will create there.

See more stories of unique homes.

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