The Hunter Houses: Barnhouse in the Catskills
Design + Images: Danielle & Ely Franko
After living in NYC for almost six years, the Frankos realized their dream of renovating old homes and bought their first fixer-upper in the Catskills. Now with two rental properties lovingly referred to as “The Hunter Houses” under their belts, the couple continue to chronicle their design journey while opening up their homes to friends and travelers alike.
Danielle and Ely Franko always knew they wanted Fireclay Tile for their Barnhouse remodel. Seven months, three bathrooms, and one bedroom later, we think it was well worth the wait.
Dreaming of your own Barnhouse escape? Bring it home with The Hunter House Sample Pack, featuring 2x4 color samples in Milky Way, Feldspar, Tusk, Sand Dune, Rosemary, Elk, and Mustard Seed. You can get yours HERE!
Meet Danielle and Ely!
Can you tell me a bit about yourselves and your business? How did you get your start?
We’re Danielle and Ely, a married couple who happened upon the world of interior design. We had been living in NYC for almost six years when we realized we wanted to be doing more, and as we talked it became clear that fixing up old homes was what we’re most excited about.
How did you hear about us? What did you enjoy about the experience? What are your favorite products?
We knew about Fireclay Tile for a long time, always admiring the inspiration photos online, so when it came to designing our new home the only tile we seriously considered was Fireclay. We really enjoyed working closely with the team, receiving much needed advice about patterns, colors, and different options. We ended up ordering a wide variety of different tiles but our favorite hands-down are the handpainted Aerial tiles we have in our downstairs bedroom.
Why do you love tile?
Tile is essentially artwork for your space. We used to think that was just limited to bathrooms and kitchens but after adding it to our bedroom, we couldn’t imagine the floors being anything else.
What are your 3 best design tips?
We really love to embrace nature and natural elements in our designs by using an abundance of plants and greenery and neutral, earthy tones. We also center everything in the house around windows and natural light. But our favorite design tip is to do what you love. You can’t create anything beautiful if it doesn’t come from what you love.
Can you tell me about The Barnhouse? Is there any story behind it and the project that you want to share?
We had been looking for a second rental property for almost a year before we found The Barnhouse. We both knew immediately that it was the one and were so scared that we would lose it (which we very nearly did after much back-and-forth). We’ve been so overwhelmed by all the support for our first house that we wanted to build another space that people could come together with friends and family and make lasting memories.
It took us almost seven months to completely renovate and furnish the house, four of which we lived in the construction site full time (with a one year old baby)! We really made the most of everything, waking up early to put in a full day of work but always stopping at some point to decompress, sit back, and enjoy good food and good wine. What we learned is that balance is key, and we wouldn’t trade those memories renovating that house for anything.
Do you approach design differently for these spaces vs. your own home?
The approach is the same, which is to always figure out how the space will be used. We want people to have the feeling of, “Wow, they really thought of everything.” That could be something as simple as a place to put your drink down in the exact spot you’ll be sitting to a sound system that plays throughout the house.
In our own home, we need to maximize convenience and storage. But in a rental property, you can get away with taking a few more chances. That being said, we’d live in The Barnhouse full time if we could without changing a thing.
What type of look or aesthetic were you going for?
We really love organic textures and colors and to embrace the architecture of the house. In The Barnhouse, that meant really embracing all the wood beams and trim and doing our best to compliment those elements.
How did you come up with your color scheme and design?
We let the space and the surrounding area dictate that. We were fortunate to see the land both covered in snow and with an abundance of green and that dictated a lot of what we did inside. You’ll see a lot of shades of brown (wood) and green (plants). The rest are tones that build on those two. One thing we always do, though, is paint the walls a clean, bright white to create a blank canvas to then build on.
Brick Shown: Elk
Let's talk about the bedroom floor tile first! What was the inspiration here? What made you choose Aerial in this color palette?
We fell in love with Aerial the second we saw it. It’s such an interesting and inviting pattern and lends itself well to customization. We played around a lot with the online design tool. At first we kept things very simple with just two colors but after we added that pop of Mustard Seed to the inside and received our sample we knew it was the one. That bedroom has become such a focal point for the house, we couldn’t have dreamed it up any better.
Now onto the bathrooms! Were you going for a particular look throughout the house?
We wanted to keep things fairly neutral in the bathrooms but really elongate the walls and make the small spaces feel bigger by using floor (or tub) to ceiling vertical tile in one of the bathrooms and a bright Rosemary in the other.
And in the Main, ensuite, bathroom, we used rectangular tiles on the floor for the same reason, letting the lines of the tiles make the room feel bigger. It’s hard to explain how tight the spaces felt before we added the tile and we absolutely love how they came out.
Brick Shown: Elk
Do you each have a favorite bathroom? If so, which one and why?
We both love the upstairs hall bath. We installed these large, rectangular tiles in the tub in two colors and paired them with a sweeping rainfall shower.The floors are wood and put in this beautiful, soft floral wallpaper throughout the space. It’s just perfect!
How did you come up with the pattern for the Elk Brick Pattern?
The design at first was going to be straight lines but when we put the tile down for a dry-fit it felt like something was missing. We really played around with different orientations and patterns for a while before landing on that one. Which is really our design process in general - trial and error!
Brick Shown: Elk
How did the installation process go? What was your experience with installing tile like?
We’ve tiled many bathrooms and kitchens before so knew a good bit about what to expect. Tile installation is a little love-hate. It’s fairly labor intensive and can be tedious but it’s so amazing to see the room come to life immediately. It’s very rewarding when it’s all done.
What was it like doing a renovation during COVID? How did it affect your process // progress?
In a lot of ways COVID really sped up our renovation of the house. We didn’t have anything else to do! Or anywhere to be! So, we threw ourselves full time into renovation mode. It was exhausting but we’re so proud of what we accomplished.
Inspired by The Barnhouse? Order your sample pack HERE. Need some help? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.