Design Lovers: Add This Upstate Town to Your New York Getaway List

By Catherine Dash, Vogue Magazine

The Catskills and its surrounding areas have long been a getaway for creatives looking to escape New York City. The latest such wave of design-minded entrepreneurs and makers—expats from Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens—can be found building a community in Kingston, New York.

Just a two-hour drive from New York City, this Hudson River Valley town (the original capital of New York state) is situated at the base of the Catskills region on the Rondout Creek. Its charming storefront real estate was an initial draw for Michael Drapkin, owner of Kingston Wine Co., who opened up shop in early 2014, causing a snowball effect. In a span of just three years, the town has gone through a bit of a creative revival—now buzzing with fresh design energy. Here, our roundup of where to shop, eat, drink, and stay while visiting Kingston.

Where to Stay:

The federal-style home that is now occupied by The Forsyth B&B was built in the 1830s and was originally used as a shop that stocked ship provisions and an oyster salon. “We found hundreds of oyster shells in the backyard during our renovation,” says Tamara Ehlin, The Forsyth’s owner. The four-bedroom inn has only been open for six months, but it already runs like a well-oiled machine. “I wanted to create a B&B that didn’t feel like a B&B, but more like an elegant home that you had the opportunity to stay at during your vacation,” explains Ehlin, who is also a trained pastry chef. The decor is thoughtful—a mix of found vintage, family heirlooms, and new pieces—but not heavily designed and purposefully uncluttered. Nods to current trends (sputnik brass lighting, globally inspired throw pillows) are mixed effortlessly with mid-century originals, resulting in a space that feels considered without being contrived. The three-course breakfast, prepared by Ehlin herself and included in your stay, is not to be missed—neither are the homemade “end-of-the-night” cookies. Bonus: The Forsyth is in walking distance to town.

Where to Eat:

After nearly a decade of weekending near Kingston (at their home on the border of Woodstock), Tracy and Jamie Kennard decided it was about time they opened a business in the town they were getting away to—and that’s when Brunette was born. “We wanted to create a place that we wanted in our town—a place that we wanted to hang out in,” explains Tracy. The picturesque, light-filled bar specializes in natural wines and offers a small menu of eclectic bites (mixed olives, trout roe nachos, a Vietnamese hot dog), plus egg sandwiches during the weekends. Tracy, a small business consultant, and her husband, Jamie, a graphic designer, worked together on Brunette’s decor, which includes a mix of vintage and new elements. Repurposed milk-glass light shades hang above the curved Carrera marble bar, food comes served on assorted vintage floral-patterned china, and a lone oil painting of a brunette hangs opposite the bar—the only artwork in the space, if you don’t count the pineapple, seahorse, and shrimp cocktail–pattered wallpaper on the back wall. Before you pop in, be sure to check out Brunette’s calendar of events (listed on their site), like the Upstate Soul Club vinyl set that takes place each month.

The low-key eatery Kovo, located in Kingston’s historic uptown district, was opened by local restaurateur Maria Philippis in August 2016 as an homage to her Greek heritage. Kovo’s Greek-inspired fare is made almost exclusively with locally sourced ingredients (exceptions include a few key items—feta, oregano, olive oil—that are imported from Greece) and the menu changes seasonally to reflect what’s available in the Hudson Valley. Philippis is also responsible for the restaurant’s refreshingly clean and graphic design. Portraits of famous Greek women, by local artist Carla Rozman, hang throughout the space, and custom sculptures by local ceramist Andrew Molleur(whose Kingston studio is available to visit by appointment) are stacked on uncluttered shelves. A menu highlight that’s not to be missed: the Avgolemono soup. Its recipe hails from Philippis’s mother, Myrsina, who is originally from the island of Samos and came in to teach the kitchen staff exactly how to make it.

Where to Shop:

The petite, 370-square-foot shop Hops Petunia—opened by florist Kelli Galloway in late 2015—is packed to the brim with home, kitchen, and garden wares, as well as jewelry and, of course, flowers. Her perfectly curated selection of giftable items (Frances Palmer vases, The Object Enthusiastring dishes) mingle with vintage decor pieces and found objects that—along with the shop’s ornate gold-and-navy Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper—give the sense that Hops Petunia has occupied the space for much more than a couple years. Galloway’s inspiration for the store? “A floral shop I worked at in Michigan when I was a teenager and a jazz bar in Japan, with its music and wallpapered walls—it just felt warm and inviting. That’s how I treat flowers and my shop,” explains Galloway, whose artful, organic arrangements can also be found throughout the store.

Next door is Scott Neild and Michael Cook’s nearly year-old store, Clove and Creek, which began as a series of pop-up shops around the region. When the duo decided to find a permanent home for their store, this is where they settled—stocking an assortment of home, apothecary, and artisanal pantry goods. Local designers represented in the mix include Minna home textiles, Theresa Drapkin artwork, and Ippolita Ferrari ceramics, as well as Clove and Creek’s own collection of natural apothecary products. And, if you’re in the mood for a pour-over coffee or cold brew, you can get that, too—the shop doubles as the neighborhood’s best coffee spot. The menu is limited, but it does the trick.

Joshua Vogel’s showroom, Black Creek Mercantile & Trading Co., in Kingston’s midtown neighborhood, is much more than meets the eye. At first glance, it’s a purposefully pared-down space displaying the artist’s locally crafted utilitarian wood wares—spoons, bowls, cutting boards—plus a tightly edited selection of smaller takeaways (artisanal cutting board oil and local shea butter cream) and Vogel’s fine-art sculptural pieces. But this space is just an extension of Vogel’s real passion: the workshop. Just around the corner you’ll find BMTC’s woodworking space where Vogel’s team is busy making everything from serving bowls to dining tables and his wife, Kelly, is keeping the wheel turning with her 4-year-old daughter, Violet, in tow. The workshop is open on weekdays, but if you’d like to pop in, it’s best to call ahead.

The minute you start talking with Michael Drapkin, the owner of Kingston Wine Co., two things immediately become clear: He’s extremely knowledgeable about wine, and he loves wine—as in, it’s a genuine passion for him and owning a wine store is his dream come true. That might be said of a lot of wine store owners, but where Drapkin’s place differs is that a large table in his store is dedicated to bottles under $15 and the description tags that hang around the shop say things like, “The weirdest goddamn thing you’ll have this week,” or “This wine + grilled cheese = warmth.” His passion for wine is equaled by his desire to demystify wine—cutting out intimidating jargon that’s prevalent in the industry. “It’s an ancient beverage. No degree is required to drink it and enjoy it,” says Drapkin. “I want to remind people that you don’t need to spend $50 on a bottle of wine to have a really interesting and profound experience.”

Read more at www.vogue.com/article/kingston-new-york-upstate-travel-guide.