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Zillowing Out

A $700,000 House Where We Can Go Creek Mode

Chris Thompson/ Defector

Last year, I was too busy to plan a true vacation. Usually, I spend weeks looking at flights and restaurants and planning a big adventure that I will certainly get food poisoning during because of my constant demands to eat street food. I love it! I love to make my little book full of places to go and things to eat. I love to see a new city. I love to find treasures to buy as souvenirs and bring back to my house to gaze upon.

But last year, we moved and the podcast took off, and I looked up in May and had no vacation time on the books and no vacation planned. I was so tired! It is very, very important to take your vacation days. But because I had not planned, and because I always, always, plan, I didn't want to take them. I fell into the classic trap of hoarding days (which is ridiculous since we have a lot of days here) and then my brain started feeling very bad. And so at the last minute, I decided that instead of my big plan and my little book and the street food, we would go to a cabin in the Adirondacks and do nothing except read books and eat pasta salad.

This turned out to be a great idea, which I highly recommend. I read six books. We made weird, complicated cocktails. The sun was up until 10 p.m. every night, it felt like. But the best part was the creek.

There was a cold mountain creek on the property, long and broad and shallow. The house came with beach chairs that could be carried down to the creek and propped up between the slippy rocks. Because the water was cold and the sun was warm, we brought a cooler bag down into the water and sat in the creek for hours. This is how I became addicted to Creek Life.

But sadly, in my real life, I have NO access to Creek Life, which is why when I saw this week's house, I was ready to trade everything for it.

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. Look how close you are to that stream. Streams are just little creeks so you can still go creek mode there! I love it.

This house is in Shandaken, N.Y., which is a cute little town in the Catskills that I have visited because my friend lives there. To be honest, $700,000 for a house in this area seems wildly over priced to me. I don't care that it's very cute and has a creek. It's only 1,600 square feet! Interest rates are the highest they've been in years! This house is cute, but it's far! It's not near a grocery store! $700,000 for the woods is just quite a hefty fee.

Luckily for me, resident Catskills expert Tom Ley is editing this blog. Tom, please weigh in here on whether you think that $700k is a reasonable price for this house. [Tom: There are regular-ass houses all over this fucking valley selling for stupidly high prices because the real-estate market is still totally bonkers here. I regret to inform you that $700,000 for a 1,600 square-foot house is just how it goes up here now.]

Great. OK. Here is the house. It is very cute:

Screenshot: Zillow

I like this little porch. I like that the wood all looks new. I like that the roofing is so light. That's a nice touch. Everything outside looks to be recently redone, which could be adding to the price point. None of these adorable schoolhouse design outdoor lights are cheap. In fact, a quick look at the price history shows that this house was bought in 2021 (at historic interest rate lows) for $480,000, and is listed at $700,000 two years later. A 48-percent price jump. Very interesting.

Let's continue. Here is the living room:

Screenshot: Zillow

This is a perfectly lovely living room. I like the built-ins. I like the window seat. I like these textured floor boards.

I am not sure if this style of design that we will see in this house has an official name, but I've taken to calling it New American Amish, and I invite you to join me.

New American Amish is very similar to AirBnb-chic. The difference is that New American Amish places an emphasis on: one wooden antique. Every room must have one wooden antique AT LEAST, and these must appear to be something you could have bought at a garage sale, but which is actually worth thousands of thousands of dollars.

This room is a perfect example of New American Amish. See how we have the white-washed vertical wood, the brick, the brass curtain rods. Notice how everything, and I mean everything, could be described with the word "shaker."

Screenshot: Zillow

What's also funny about this kind of design aesthetic is that it is essentially a furniture showroom. Without the furniture, it's ... well ... drab. The houses themselves are plain, the features are mostly plain. But I do love that built-in china cabinet. That is great to me.

Do you hear that scraping sound? It's the little soap box I have pulled out. It is time for me to climb on top of it to talk about this:

Screenshot: Zillow

Some of you may not be brain-poisoned by Pinterest. You may be living in bliss, enjoying your lives. You may never have heard of the brand DeVol Kitchens, and for that I envy you. I truly cannot recommend you keep reading. Maybe just go to another article. Knowing about DeVol Kitchens can only make your life more difficult.

But we must discuss it because immediately upon seeing this image my brain went "DeVol Kitchen," and sure enough, the listing on this house says it has a DeVol Kitchen. So that is exactly where all this money went because DeVol Kitchens are extremely expensive.

DeVol Kitchens is a fancy kitchen brand made by cute English people. It is a "design led manufacturer" which means that ... um .... they are designers who also sell cabinets you can buy and pulls for the cabinets that are very expensive. DeVol is maybe the brand in New American Amish.

But Kelsey, you may be saying, how can a British brand be the forerunner in New American Amish?

Thank you for asking. 1) Because I said so. 2) Because the thing about New American Amish is that like many American design trends it is mean to be vague: to recall some nondescript European village that rich British people vacation in. Nondescript place design is a key feature of American design because, famously, all this land is stolen so designers here have forever been transplanting watered-down designs from other places.

And also, I don't care about facts. What I care about is that big chunky antique island made of wood in the middle of this kitchen. That's New American Amish, baby.

Screenshot: Zillow

Now, listen. I admit that this is a lovely kitchen. I would like to cook there. It is very bright and very clean and very pretty. But one of the most interesting things about New American Amish as a design feature is that it is incredibly expensive to make something this simple look good and not boring.

Everything in this kitchen is nice, but unlike a true top-to-bottom designed DeVol Kitchen, it isn't quite seamless. The fridge doesn't quite fit into its cubby. The floor-to-ceiling cabinet doesn't have a molding around the top. The floor looks cheap. The tiny decorative shelf is too tiny, and the appliances are all shiny. In real DeVol Kitchens, they do the fancy thing and make the appliances disappear.

Let's move on to a New American Amish bathroom:

Screenshot: Zillow

I'm cackling. It's too perfect. The green Clé Zelige tile. The clawfoot tub where the claws are decorative and the actual basin has to be supported by a block. The very expensive side table next to the tub. The BRASS. Always with the aged brass! This is a gorgeous bathroom, and part of the reason that this style is becoming more and more popular is that it is infinitely replicable and genuinely pretty. Details, New American Amish understands, matter.

Here are the stairs:

Screenshot: Zillow

See how the wood is left raw? See how it matches the big plank on the ground floor? See that nice buttery white? These are beautiful cliches and I love them.

Here's a bedroom:

Screenshot: Zillow

I truly cannot stop laughing at the fact that, in this $700,000 house, with all of this flip work, the bed is on this dinky little frame. Please! Have some self-respect! Get a four-poster! That's the design standard here! Get a rug that fits!

Here's another room:

Screenshot: Zillow

Gorg shelves and window seat, I love it. But on the whole there is not a lot to comment on in this house. That's intentional. It is a form of flipping that is for rich people. This is still staging. This is still made to sell. It's just more expensive than gray floors, and much better.

Here's another bathroom:

Screenshot: Zillow

Just to be a bitch: why the fuck would you spend so much money on these Zelige subway tiles that are made to not lie flat and to refract light, and then grout them with the exact same color, completely demolishing their character? Why not pay someone to use the tile inside that cubby instead of propping in that cheap one?

That said, I love the classic black and white floor, and I love the sink on top of the little table. I'm a sucker, what can I say!

Here's a fire pit:

To be honest, I would love to go sit by the fire pit and make a hot dog or a s'more. I would love to stay up late with my pals. The aesthetic of New American Amish is one made to be unplugged, to have long, lavish dinner parties with whole roast chickens, and a dozen bottles of skin-contact wine. New American Amish is for Instagram. But unlike a lot of other design styles, it's easier for me to support because New American Amish values a few nice things, almost always thrifted, over a million cheap Wayfair purchases. That seems good.

But do I think it is worth $700,000? Even with its own creek? No. Not really.

This week's house has been listed for $699,000 on Zillow for 29 days. If you buy this house, please invite me up. I love the Catskills!

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