This place is an oasis located just 10 minutes outside of Chatham, New York. Perched in this second story suite, we spent a full month absorbing the daily wonders of the Retrograss Farm: strutting roosters, honking ducks, snuggling pigs, a majestic clydesdale, and a family of goats welcoming their week-old addition. With two bedrooms and windows in all four directors, this light-filled suite was a serene place to live and work. Stress is just hard to sustain when a quick glance out the window includes the gentle stream of fall leaves and a frolicking baby goat.
Karine and Charles are the parents of three, the owners of the Retrograss Farm, and the masterminds behind this beautiful suite. Built entirely under their care, this second story apartment was added above the single story outbuilding adjacent to the main house. As Karine described it, the existing roof was hoisted into the air with a crane as the second story was inserted, and then the roof was reattached. Once the space was enclosed, Karine and Charles got to work on the interior. On their website, they describe the full project which lists many of the items they repurposed while building, including the sturdy farm sink and the stunning wood burning stove, which apparently weighs in at a whopping 500lbs. Their attention to detail can be felt in every nook and cranny of this place, and their daily dedication to their farm and its animals can be seen from the suite’s unparalleled views.
Second Story, two Bedroom suite
This apartment is over 1,100 square feet according to Karine and Charles’ calculations, and that spaciousness is compounded by the abundance of natural light. As we sifted through Airbnbs in the northeast, this one caught our eye with its full-sized kitchen and excellent workspaces, including a four-person kitchen table, a counter, and a full desk area tucked in the corner of the second bedroom. In short, plenty of space to spread out during a month-long stay.
This apartment has nine big, beautiful windows opening up into every direction plus a skylight. Whenever the sun is shining, this space is absolutely brimming with natural light. The sunsets are especially lovely, with the bright red glow gliding in through the kitchen windows which creates a reflection in the pond below. We were also here in the late fall. These windows let us enjoy the tail end of the fall leaves and helped us navigate daylight’s savings. After the shift, it was completely dark by 4:45, so we soaked in as much light as possible during the day.
Attention to Detail
Karine and Charles carried their thoughtful designs from the structural plans all the way through the finishing touches. The moment we walked in, we noticed this incredible attention to detail. Everything from the door handles, to the diverse array of textures, to the lighting fixtures had been considered.
Personal Touches We Loved
One of the most luxurious parts of a full-time Airbnb lifestyle is enjoying the small, personal touches hosts have included in their space. And during a month-long stay, these thoughtful details become part of our daily routine. This place was chock-full of amenities that we adored. If you’re interested in any of the items below, we’d so appreciate your support of bnbNomad by using our affiliate links below.
These dragonfly hooks were the very first thing we used inside the space. Here we were, bumbling in through the door after a never-ending car ride with bags sliding off shoulders and coats bunched under arms, trying to take off Odin’s leash. And there were the hooks, ready to free up our hands. We loved this small gesture welcoming us to the space, inviting us to move on in.
Best Chocolate Bar Ever
Ok. So this chocolate bar was sitting next to keys when we checked ourselves in, and after tasting this perfect blend of sweet, salt, chunky, smooth, I realized its value, thanked the universe that Jay could take or leave chocolate, and started rationing it for myself. For two weeks, this was the highlight of my lunch. Turns out you can by them in bulk on Amazon. Yes, I’ve already made an order.
Hand Soap and Hand Lotion
By both sinks were bottles of the most delicious-smelling olive oil soaps, orange blossom in the kitchen and lavender in the bathroom. Such a small thing, but we noticed it every time we washed up. Each night we’d also use just a touch of this rich lotion so conveniently tucked beside the soap. It was a perfect addition as the cold weather started to move in.
Lavender Chamomile Candles
What fabulous candles. One was left in each bedroom, and in the evening we’d often light them as we dimmed other lights to unwind before bed. Between these candles and the cooking we were able to do with their awesome gas stove, the suite smelled oh-so-good the entire time we were there.
When’s the last time you sat in a rocking chair? If you own one, you’ll probably say, “all the time, because they’re fantastic”. And if you don’t own one (and love Cracker Barrel), you might be trying to remember the last time you had a long wait at the country restaurant in nice weather. We haven’t been near a rocking chair in a long time, and both loved this thing. Of course, Karine and Charles have tucked a soft blanket just behind it and nestled it close to the wood burning stove. Doesn’t get much better than this.
We’ve stayed in many an Airbnb without a dishwasher and this drying rack is by far the best one we’ve seen. It may sound like such a simple thing, but especially with long stays, guests typically cook frequently. And that means doing dishes constantly. This drying rack’s design made doing lots of dishes easy, it folds up flat to consume minimal space when stored, and the natural wood compliments the farm kitchen atmosphere. This great drying mat was tucked underneath.
Our favorite personal touch was this beautiful mulitcolored rug. Not only is it big, bright and so comfy, it visually ties the entire apartment together. In fact, this stunning piece was a surprise. It wasn’t included in the listing’s pictures, but it is the undeniable centerpiece of the space. No one enjoyed the rug more than Odin. With the big windows in every direction, there was almost always a lovely patch of sun somewhere on this rug where he’d curl up and take his midday naps.
Clever Tricks for Airbnb Hosts
Karine and Charles were some of the most creative hosts we’ve seen. They had this uncanny ability to set us up for success as guests without needing to be there. If you’re an Airbnb host, take a look at these clever hosting tricks.
1) Leave Your Guests Trail Markers
We arrived to the Retrograss Farm well after the sun had gone down. As we pulled down the long driveway we saw a handmade Airbnb sign letting us know we had found the right place to park. Adding little trail markers like these are a fabulous way to gently guide your guests without having to be physically present.
2) Leave the Outside at the Door
Given that we were staying on a farm, there was plenty we could have accidentally tracked into the space after taking Odin for a walk. But Karine and Charles were one step ahead of us. Just inside the door was a mudroom where we could kick off our shoes and hang up our coats before heading up stairs to their squeaky clean suite. You may not have room for an entire mudroom, but even a few hooks and a mat for shoes helps guests leave the outside at the door.
3) Provide an Entry Table
A little table near the door is such a welcome touch, especially during a longer stay. It gives your guests a designated place to toss keys, gloves and hats, letters to mail, etc. An entry table is also a great place to leave your guest book or house manual while also providing another decorating opportunity. We loved their vase and dried flowers.
4) Help Your Guests Unpack in the Kitchen
As a host, you’ve probably thought about where your guests will unpack their clothes, but have you thought about where they’d unpack their groceries? Adding a fruit stand or clearing a shelf in the pantry can make it easier for longer-term guests to settle in to the kitchen.
5) Protect Your Furniture
These couch protectors were a brilliant addition to a space that allows pets. Karine and Charles had these tucked over their spacious L-shaped couch. Even though Odin never gets on the furniture, his hair still manages to. Every week or so, we’d toss them in the washing machine and then tuck them back over the couch. Highly recommended!
6) Leave a Nightlight on the Nightstand
Retrograss was the first place where a host had left a nightlight on the nightstand instead of already plugging it in. Little tricks like these are a great way to allow your guest to customize their space. This trick made it into our Airbnb Host’s Bedroom Essentials Checklist.
7) Make a Second Bedroom Multipurpose
While some Airbnbs have a second bedroom, most do not have a designated office space. As guests that work remotely, the deep desk, swivel chair, and tall light tucked in the corner of the second bedroom immediately set Retrograss apartment from other nearby Airbnbs. This is a great way to build in flexibility for your guests. Not all travelers need a second bed, and not all travelers need a desk, but you can improve your odds of being the right Airbnb when you create a space that can mold to your guests needs. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to work from here?
Book Your Stay
This is one of the Airbnbs we hope to return to the most. We’ve seen it in the fall, but can only imagine how spectacular it would be in the spring or summer too. The Retrograss Farm Apartment would be a great fit for many guests, but we’d especially recommend it for guests like this:
If you’re looking for a calming place to escape from the hustle and bustle and recharge, Retrograss is the perfect combination of serene surroundings and luxury amenities.
Folks with Kids
The second bedroom would be perfect place for a kids to sleep and the farm animals are just delightful. Plus there’s a great trail to explore on the property.
Got a project you need to buckle down and finish? We’ve yet to find another Airbnb so conducive to productivity. Good work surfaces are abundant, along with incredibly calming views.