A note from our editors: 

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions! Each year, we spend the holidays reflecting on the stories and articles you loved most. It’s the “Best of Rue” and this is one of 2019’s top stories. Enjoy!

Previously published on February 13, 2019:

Megan Pflug wasn’t always an interior designer. She started out studying fine arts at the RISD but gradually found her love of crafting spaces. Having lived several years in Brooklyn, she came across an exciting opportunity to transform a 1950’s era lodge in the Catskills into a contemporary B&B called The Woodhouse Lodge. Using resources like Polycor for the kitchen countertops to give the hotel a unique but high-quality look, she was able to blend contemporary and mid-century design for an Up-State retreat that offers style as well as comfort. We sat down with her to find out about her journey of discovering the property to opening it to the public.

Tell us a little bit about yourself as a designer – how did you start out and how has your design point of view evolved over the years?

I started out in the fine arts and pretty quickly realized that I was as interested in the spaces where art would live as much as the actual pieces of art. In this way, I always had my toe in two worlds. I love interior design because it allows me to make one of everything. I grew up in Missouri, with a grandmother and a mother who were always sewing and making. They have this pioneer resourcefulness and a DIY sensibility that’s pretty pervasive in the Midwest. It was funny to move to the East coast and realize that not everyone is crafty. I always joke that I have pioneer skills.

Did you think that you would one day be the owner of a B&B?

Not really, I have always loved upstate New York. Luckily, in the last few years, it seems that the cultural sea of makers, business owners, chiefs, etc., has exploded to the point where living and working upstate seemed like a viable option. It feels like Brooklyn in my early days, pumping with creative energy and ripe with space for creative people to occupy. Opening this business evolved naturally and aligned with things we were already doing.

How did you find The Woodhouse Lodge and what kind of shape was it in?

Structurally it was fine but it was definitely in need of some refreshing and upgrades. The exterior was painted a reddish brown that did not do the building any favors. We modernized it with ‘Railings’ by Farrow & Ball and had the color matched in a solid stain. The kitchen was the centerpiece of the lodge so we knew it needed to be a showstopper.

You’re right! The kitchen has such a uniquely beautiful feel. Where did you begin its design?

I design pretty intuitively, but one thing I knew going into this space was that I did not want it to be overly mid-century. The impulse with modern architecture is sometimes to decorate very literally with pieces from the era of its origin. I feel like that approach can look cartoonish and ultimately doesn’t let a space evolve. I tried to honor the MCM (mid-century modern) era while mixing it up.

You worked with Polycor on the countertops, tell us about that experience. Did you get to see the actual stone in person, did they make the design and install effortless?

The process was absolutely effortless. They sent me pictures of the slabs and I chose from those. They helped me arrange for the delivery directly to the job site where our contractor fabricated the countertops. Because soapstone is so soft it requires fewer specilized tools.

What are the pros of the Alberene Soapstone? Does it require maintenance or treatment?

I always describe soapstone as being like blue jeans. It definately wears in and get better with age. The only maintenance required is an occasional oiling.

We love your ingenious idea of designing a backsplash with a shelf, all of the same material. Where did you come up with the idea and what was the process like of having it made?

The old kitchen layout was low on prep space, so I reconfigured the existing cabinetry and added soapstone countertops. The ceilings were low so I wanted to keep things feeling light so we opted for the shelf/backsplash configuration rather than upper cabinets. I like that this design straddles the line between a MCM and a more historic feel. It also lets the materials speak for themselves.

The dark color of the soapstone pairs perfectly with the dark cabinetry. What paint color and application did you use for them?

The paint color is Behr I believe it’s called ‘Nightclub’. We primed sanded and painted them with a brush.

Tell us about the other elements of the lodge. There’s a definite retro vibe going on.

I used Shaker rails in most of the rooms. The Shakers were the original modernists, I think, and they lived in this part of the country. I also collected a lot of vintage and antique pieces from the area so even though they are not “modern,” they are regional; I think that helps the mix feel grounded.

Can you share with us how you maintained the lodge’s original character?

The Lodge itself is a 10-room hotel with an A-frame in the center. The first floor of the A-frame is a common space with an open kitchen and lounge with a large fireplace. The second floor of the A-frame is where we live. It’s a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 1-kitchen (which we are renovating) space with a great view. All of that architecture was original and we stuck with it.

Finally, what makes the Woodhouse Lodge special, besides its design, of course – is there a specific area, cocktail, dish that has been popular with your guests?

We think the whole space is special but we are really looking forward to opening our second space on the property it will be an event space and wine bar opening this spring.

Sounds exciting! We’ll be sure to check it out when it’s done!