This Woodstock Home Embraces Natural Light

An entire wall of windows modernized this classy, cozy Woodstock cottage. Pull up a chair.

Interior design pro Steed Hale and the Hudson Valley go way back. About 30 years ago, Hale and his physician husband lived happily in a huge custom-built house in Woodstock. Hale grew his design business and was a devoted supporter of numerous community organizations, including the 85-year-old Woodstock Playhouse, setting up garden tours as fundraisers. On weekends he poked around local yard sales, his sights set on building a homegrown art collection.

Sadly, his husband died young of cancer, before they had time to create the big family they’d talked about. Hale had no choice but to venture down a different path. He moved to Miami for a time to grieve and regroup as best he could, and ultimately migrated to a window-filled uptown Manhattan apartment with expansive views of the Hudson River.

Lots of different textures play well together here: smooth marble, rustic wood, velvet. And then there are those fantastic fuzzy pillows. The patterned rug reads almost as a neutral and effectively grounds the seating area.
Lots of different textures play well together here: smooth marble, rustic wood, velvet. And then there are those fantastic fuzzy pillows. The patterned rug reads almost as a neutral and effectively grounds the seating area.

Over time, his reputation continued to rise. Hale nurtured his boutique interior design business while also working as an editor for Traditional Home for almost two decades. Along the way he designed the Tea Salon at the Guggenheim Museum Soho, a luxury hotel property in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and brought in A-list celebrities—including Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters, and Ralph Lauren—to work on major campaigns.

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cottage kitchen
The kitchen in the Woodstock home.

But Woodstock always had a special place in his heart. “I just felt a pull,” says Hale. “I had loved Woodstock before and knew I would again. There seemed to be a ton of design opportunity. It was time.” And given his city apartment’s proximity to the George Washington Bridge, going back and forth would be reasonably easy.

HUGE WINDOWS ON THE BACK WALL OF THE LIVING ROOM BRING THE OUTSIDE IN AND MAKE THE SPACE FEEL SIGNIFICANTLY LARGER.

He put out feelers among real estate pros in his circle and soon enough, one of them said she had a house that might be what he was looking for. He brought two friends along to check it out. One just shook her head and went back to the car almost immediately, Hale recalls with a laugh. “The other said something like, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll keep looking.’” But Hale saw the house and its two-and-a-half-acre property through a lens honed from decades of design work. After maybe 10 minutes of consideration, he had a plan in mind and made an offer.

cottage entry

Initially, he thought he could work his vision for a cozy two-bedroom, two-bathroom retreat around the existing layout, but shoddy renovations made over the house’s 100-year lifespan dashed that hope. Plan B: A gut reno, which took place from March through November 2021. Hale was onsite every day, managing both the process and the workers. His biggest design change was glass—as in, windows lining the entire back side of the house. “There’s tons of natural light, and the sight lines into the backyard make the house feel so much bigger than it actually is,” says Hale.

In a house with few closets, the hallway needed a design solution to make it more than just a pass-through. The chunky storage cabinet was a gaudy, flowered piece that was left behind in the house. Black paint transformed it. The chair was inherited from a friend who passed away. “He painted it himself and he knew I loved it,” says Hale. “Seeing it always makes me smile.” The illustration on the wall is from Hale’s Woodstock tag sale adventures. In the primary bedroom, an oversized chandelier reflects off the wall mirror for added light. Layered white linens contrast beautifully with the dark sheets and upholstered headboard.
In a Woodstock home with few closets, the hallway needed a design solution to make it more than just a pass-through. The chunky storage cabinet was a gaudy, flowered piece that was left behind in the house. Black paint transformed it. The chair was inherited from a friend who passed away. “He painted it himself and he knew I loved it,” says Hale. “Seeing it always makes me smile.” The illustration on the wall is from Hale’s Woodstock tag sale adventures. In the primary bedroom, an oversized chandelier reflects off the wall mirror for added light. Layered white linens contrast beautifully with the dark sheets and upholstered headboard.

The sun-drenched 1,000-square-foot space manages to read as both expansive and cozy, thanks to Hale’s skillfulness. He loves spending time there, often hosting friends. In fact, he had pals staying with him before the holidays who were looking for a place of their own. The vibe gives guests an unmistakable—maybe even irresistible—taste of what life could be if they decide to call the Hudson Valley home.

Relaxing by a crackling firepit with the house softly glowing in the distance? Not a thing wrong with that. Woodstock is a popular spot all year round.
Relaxing by a crackling firepit with the Woodstock home softly glowing in the distance? Not a thing wrong with that. Woodstock is a popular spot all year round.

WHEN LIVING IN A 1,000-SQUARE-FOOT HOUSE, THE TRICK IS TO ADD VISUAL INTEREST WITHOUT A LOT OF CLUTTER. EVERYTHING IN THE SPACE SHOULD HAVE A PURPOSE.

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cottage bedroom

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