Design and leisure go hand in hand in New York State. For decades, the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions have attracted NYC residents craving a serene touch of nature and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. But in recent years there has also been a growing desire among travelers around the world to set foot in the area’s charming bliss. From the quaint yet undeniably cool to symbols of modern luxury, the caliber of hotel stays in the area is as diverse as the country itself, making for completely unique adventures. In the past two years, a duo of new spaces – Little Cat Lodge (LCL) and INNESS – have entered the mix, changing the game of upstate NY design and escape experiences.
Nestled on a hillside, the picturesque Little Cat Lodge is located at the base of Catamount Mountain in Hillsdale, NY. Initially hidden from passersby on the main road, the space’s bold brown hue comes into view after descending a short winding street. But what remains particularly interesting about Little Cat Lodge is how it preserves the area’s history and culture while promoting an entirely new experience: it’s only been open since last August. Before the new lodge came into existence, it was the Swiss Hutte Inn & Restaurant, which stood there from 1962 to 2021. The Germanic style of the inn, an important part of the community, attracted people from all backgrounds – and doubled as a stagecoach station before the inn’s transformation in the 20th century.
In 2021, the inn was purchased by NYC restauranteurs and business partners Matt Kliegman and Noah Bernamoff, whose combined portfolio includes The Smile, Grand Army, Black Seed Bagel, and Pebble Bar. However, in their new endeavor when the Swiss Hutte Inn’s patrons took ownership, the duo still wanted to maintain the inn’s allure. To do so, they enlisted the help of Loren Daye and her design studio, LOVEISENOUGH, to take the space into new territory while honoring its history.
Daye notes that charm and humility were important to the LOVEISENOUGH crew as they were refurbishing the historic property. “We wanted LCL to feel welcoming and to belong to this city,” she says. “A big goal of this project was for it to become a third living room for people in the community.”
Sustainable design remained at the forefront while LOVEISENOUGH was creating Little Cat Lodge. Daye, her team and the LCL owners made a conscious effort to prioritize the complete experience, which meant preserving the original essence of the space, yet transforming it into something new. The scale of the lodge has largely remained the same, but one of the most obvious exterior changes is the space’s new bold hickory hue, which is inspired by rural Japanese inns Daye has visited. To enhance select exterior elements and also some interior elements, the design team looked across the road to culled red oak and maple wood from Catamount Mountain, which was used for a variety of interior furnishings such as chairs, beds, and tables. Other wood choices include reclaimed hemlock in the bedrooms and reusing the same wall covering from the previous inn.
Where design choices widen is with the cozy, yet tastefully colorful interior of the lodge. To create a culturally cosmopolitan space, Daye and LOVEISENOUGH have embedded pieces of alpine and other Japanese influences in the lodge, from wood mixing to original Isamu Noguchi light fixtures. Throws are upholstered in dandelion-colored gingham, while adjoining sofa furniture comes to life in checkered indigo and white upholstery. Rather than artwork or decorations, LCL’s design focuses on compositional objects and witty design finishes such as woodland creature-inspired drawings and a pebble facade. This continued intentionality extends to window valances and subtle wall pieces featuring original designs by Brooklyn-based children’s author and illustrator Esmé Shapiro. Finding the balance between mixed media, international inspiration and vibrant wall tones in rich hues from warm orange to forest green is no easy feat. Yet the magic of LCL is that it finds the sweet spot between warmth and character. “There are some bells and whistles for an international audience, but there are also a lot of elements that feel relatable and easy-going so it retains its original Catskills charm,” says Daye.
“There are some bells and whistles for an international audience, but there are also a lot of elements that feel relatable and easy so it retains its original Catskills charm.” — Loren Daye
Where Little Cat Lodge offers hidden beauty and subtle cultural touches, INNESS takes shape in muted contemporary sublimity. Opening in the summer of 2021, the sprawling property in Accord, NY, evokes a calming intimacy even though it sits on 225 acres. Created by Taavo Somer, Brooklyn-based design firm Post Company, development team Michael Barry, CBSK Ironstate and Lee Pollock, the endeavor was approached as an opportunity to collaborate with the area’s natural beauty. With Somer’s background as a NYC restaurant owner and more alongside Post Company’s experience with Scribner’s Catskill Lodge, Casa Bonay and The Lake House on Canandaigua, the entities’ approach to design for INNESS builds on international artistry. At INNESS there is not one central building. Instead, the property creates its natural community through a campus-style design. At the top of the hill overlooking the mountains and the whole property is the restaurant, lounge, farm shop and swimming pool. A short drive up the road leads to the 28 cabins and a 12-room farmhouse.
The site’s natural makeup is enough to cringe for on its own, but INNESS strikes a chord with building a reprieve from urban life while retaining the charm of American frontier design. Modernity and sophistication serve as clear hallmarks of the property’s design personality, yet it fuses past and present by drawing inspiration from colonial Dutch architecture. From the cabins to the farmhouse, rustic architectural details include cedar shakes, clapboard siding, and divided light windows. Where more contemporary sensibilities come into play is the amalgamation of natural and neutral in the space. The interior and exterior of the entire space are bathed in muted tones of brown, buff, ivory, soft almond and grayish brown. While the use of muted tones is rather trendy, INNESS’ intention is with soft tones to promote calmness while remaining timeless.
In addition to color, the temperament is enhanced by vintage and bespoke furnishings, an array of artwork and country decor – striking the balance between novelty and familiarity. Even the most functional details, such as custom Roll & Hill-designed room furniture and lighting, are meant to touch the Hudson Valley area – paying homage to rustic Dutch influences. Whether it’s the crackling of fireplaces in the common areas, quiet chatter in the farmhouse kitchen, or the loud clatter of billiard balls in one of the front rooms, INNESS fosters a refreshing sense of camaraderie. It achieves this feat thanks to an increased focus on creating harmony with nature, wellness and sensible design.
While Little Cat Lodge and INNESS are just two of the many relaxing lodgings in the Catskills, their existence expresses a commitment to meeting travelers with an individual charm. Stylistically, the two resort hotels are vastly different. But what their differences reveal is a commitment to channeling both the history and beauty of the surrounding areas – whether looking at the influence of colonial Dutch architecture, collaborating with local illustrators or simply ensuring that restaurant cuisine follows tradition. of the previous owners continues. . There is beauty in the merging of past and present and these two places have found harmony in it.