An 1850s Farmhouse Turned Modern Guest House in Narrowsburg, NY
15 Main St | Narrowsburg, NY
Along the wooded banks of the Delaware River sits the picturesque hamlet of Narrowsburg, NY; population: under 500. And tucked inside this diminutive town, just steps away from gently babbling waters, travelers can ensconce themselves at Nest Inn, a two bedroom 1850s farmhouse made modern, owned and operated by Anna Bern, a former Design Director at Vogue who gave up the stresses of city life to enjoy the year-round peacefulness of the Catskills.
Anna’s story began in 2003 when she bought a weekend home in the Callicoon area to escape her fast-paced weekday routine. Three years later, while dining in Narrowsburg, she spotted a ‘For Rent’ sign on an empty space across the street. Acting on a lifelong dream to open up a store, she sold her Brooklyn loft and decamped to the Catskills to open her lifestyle boutique, Nest. “I had a really great career, and I feel like when I left, I was at the peak of it,” says Anna. “But I wanted a total lifestyle change. I wanted something more creative and personal.”
As Nest flourished, Anna couldn’t help but notice the lack of lodging options for the town’s tourists and weekend visitors. In 2014, she bought and moved into her best friend’s spacious farmhouse — one of the town’s first homes — and turned it into Nest Inn, a unique lodging experience where guests can not only hang their hat, but perhaps purchase the hook on which their hat hangs; all of the furnishings and decor are for sale, borrowed from the boutique — a wonderful assemblage of road finds and items scooped up on antique foraging trips. Each room, of which there are two, has its own bathroom and separate entrance, offering privacy for those looking to enjoy the shops, restaurants, and varied events along Main Street, or the many hiking trails that lead the way to stunning postcard views of the Delaware River.
- Location: Narrowsburg, NY
- Features of Guest Room 1:
King Size Bed
- Features of Guest Room 2:
Queen Size Bed
Although Anna was born in Brazil and lived there until she was 15, she credits much of the inn’s aesthetic to her Danish father, a man who instilled in her a love of Scandinavian simplicity. This old cabin chair, a Brimfield find, leaves many guests feeling like they are stepping back in time.
An upholstered headboard and artwork by New Hampshire artist Michelle Morin decorate the Queen Room; beadboard ceilings were added by Anna and her boyfriend, who made sure that any renovations were in keeping with the home’s original style. “I wanted to leave as much of the character of the house as possible, but at the same time, I wanted guests to be as comfortable as possible,” says Anna.
Pillows brought home from Morocco are juxtaposed with one wall of bygone wallpapers in the Queen Room, each one from a different generation of the home. “During renovation, some of the wallpaper was peeled off and some was left behind, so there are layers of time that you can see as the house evolved,” says Anna. “It’s an intimate look at the house’s history.”
The Queen Room’s vintage tub is shrouded in gauzy linen and overlooks the farmhouse grounds. It is one of many that Anna found by simply driving around the area. “I only have two bathrooms, but I ended up with a backyard full of vintage sinks and bathtubs!” she laughs.
While the tub lends whimsy to the bedroom, it was also put there to save space as Anna wanted to ensure that each room had its own private bath. To do so, she turned a large closet in the Queen room into a small bathroom that fits just one sink and toilet.
A barn-style sliding door in the King Room reveals one of the two private bathrooms Anna added to the inn. The rest of the house, however, is ever-evolving, attributed to either Anna’s personal preferences or because guests, after living with the decor for a few days, decide to purchase a piece of the Catskills to bring home with them.
While the original floors could not be saved, Anna and her boyfriend paid homage to the home’s early American farmhouse roots by installing new wide plank flooring and whitewashing them for an airy, timeworn effect.
A ceramic tea set made by a local maker sits atop a vintage mid-century coffee table, anchored by a rug, another Moroccan find. “I’m a big textile person,” says Anna. “I love layering and shapes and colors and whenever I think about a vacation place, I make sure it’s a place where there are amazing textiles.”
One of Anna’s favorite things about Narrowsburg is its Main Street, which is just around the corner from the inn, sitting along the snaking Delaware River. Cut off from major highways, the secluded downtown is lined with quaint boutiques, carefully curated galleries, and mouth-watering eateries. But for Anna, the best part of Main Street lies just beyond all of that, at the Narrowsburg Bridge. “You can walk to the bridge and just look at the river for hours.”