This week, Scott and Elizabeth Hague are entertaining relatives at their Catskills compound. With a main residence, a guest house, a teepee and a pond (complete with 300 trout!), the property is a prime spot for activities like ice skating and snuggling by the fire.
Over the past four years, the couple has meticulously reimagined this weekend escape, set on 70 forest-filled acres in Bearsville, NY, near Woodstock.
Unspoiled woods lured the Upper East Side couple: Scott, 44, who works in finance; and Elizabeth, 46, an interior designer for global clients under the name Emma Elizabeth Trading. Both grew up vacationing in rural locales (Scott in northern Wisconsin and Elizabeth in the Blue Ridge Mountains town of Blowing Rock, NC).
“The Catskills immediately reminded us of the beauty of those spots: pine forests, fishing streams and the breathtaking backdrop of the Indian Head Wilderness in Catskill State Park, which is directly adjacent to our property,” Scott says. “The surrounding area also provides many cultural benefits — plus skiing in the winters and hiking and fly fishing in the summer — all [just] a two-hour drive from New York City.”
Family initially drew the couple to Bearsville 15 years ago. Elizabeth’s father purchased a home there, so the Hagues looked for nearby property. Two weeks later, they owned a 70-acre plot. Neighbors past and present include David Bowie and Uma Thurman’s father, academic Robert Thurman.
The existing structure was a teardown — a 1970s ranch house — but the land was spectacular.
“One major point of interest was that there were several aquifers and streams running throughout the property,” says Scott, a fly fisherman who constructed one pond deep enough for brook and brown trout. (To fish there, you have to be under 16 and use a barbless hook so all catches get thrown back unharmed.)
A source of inspiration for the home’s woodsy vibe were the Great Camps of the Adirondacks, escapes for urbanites popular in the last century. “We both love them, and the old Rockefeller estate, now a hotel known as The Point, where we celebrated our first anniversary,” Scott says.
Other Great Camps, such as Pine Knot and Sagamore, shaped Elizabeth’s interiors. Their hallmarks included local logs and branches, exposed bark, burnished metals and massive fireplaces. “We wanted our aesthetic to feel as authentic to that era as possible,” adds Elizabeth.
The main house is named Old House because it was rebuilt on the footprint and foundation of the original home. The guest house, called Trappers, boasts a pool table from the early 1900s, a shuffleboard game from 1959 and a pinball machine from 1975. (Scott also uses Trappers to host his annual fantasy baseball draft.) Their land contains an archery range (Archers), a small pond where kids skate in the winter (Boo’s Bog) and a frog pond (Lake Carlos, an homage to Elizabeth’s brother-in-law).
The main house received a top-down renovation, including new windows, oak floors and a cedar shake roof. Douglas fir wood paneling surrounds the entertaining spaces, while handmade cabinetry and an island with a soapstone countertop elevate the kitchen from rustic to chic. All the stone used is from a bluestone quarry on site. Elizabeth and her father sourced all the logs for the exterior of the houses in nearby Saugerties.
The center of the 3,500-square-foot, six-bedroom main house is an open-plan living room/kitchen and an adjacent dining room where the couple constantly entertains. Scott loves the outdoor grill, while Elizabeth can be found at the La Cornue range and oven making Southern favorites like shrimp and grits, pistachio cake and popovers.
“Our intention was to create a sanctuary from our hectic lives in the city,” she says. “Each room is designed to cater to the comfort of our guests, who know they need only to arrive at our home with the clothes on their backs.”
In addition, the couple installed two screened-in porches where they are often found on a swinging bed relaxing with books. (Glass storm windows render the spaces usable year-round.) And for guests, there’s a serene secondary bedroom that features a light fixture crafted from a Native American bell jar.
The decor deliberately evokes Americana. Some furniture pieces are from Ralph Lauren, while others (including the dining table and chairs) are antiques from longtime Indiana-based company Old Hickory, which Elizabeth found at estate sales, in auctions and on eBay. Special finds include a wood-carved coat rack shaped like a bear from the early 1900s and antler chandeliers (one of which had been a prop in Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel”).
The rest of the furnishings were plucked from their childhood homes or custom made locally.
The Hagues additionally collect American paintings from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The hallway walls are also lined with presidential inauguration invitations dating back to Abraham Lincoln. Outside, nature abounds: the ponds are also a habitat for salamanders, and there are always visits from black bears, foxes, turkeys, minks and, this summer, a porcupine who took up residence in an apple tree.
In warmer months, nieces who visit love to camp out in the property’s teepee, a hand-painted structure made by Nomadics Tipi. But when the outdoor one is inaccessible due to snow, the Hagues set up a mini version inside the kids’ playroom.
Above all, the Bearsville getaway is not a museum — and that’s how the Hagues like it. “We built this house with family gatherings in mind,” Elizabeth says. “We are our happiest when every room is full.”