Storybook Ending: A Craft Maven Finally Comes Home to a Stone Cottage in Woodstock | House Profiles | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Storybook Ending: A Craft Maven Finally Comes Home to a Stone Cottage in Woodstock 

Last Updated: 08/01/2021 4:34 pm
click to enlarge Linda Facci and Gene Gironda’s home sits on three acres of gardens, winding bluestone paths, and stone terraces. The property sits in the heart of the former Maverick Art Colony, site of the early 20th-century music and art festivals held every summer. - WINONA BARTON BALLENTINE
  • Winona Barton Ballentine
  • Linda Facci and Gene Gironda’s home sits on three acres of gardens, winding bluestone paths, and stone terraces. The property sits in the heart of the former Maverick Art Colony, site of the early 20th-century music and art festivals held every summer.

The crafter is Linda Facci, who, at that time, was working in New York City and visiting Woodstock on weekends. The cyclist was Gene Gironda, the founder and former owner of Overlook Mountain Bikes. The stone Dutch cottage they now find themselves in, complete with 14-inch-thick bluestone walls; arched, hobbit-style entry doors; and steeply sloped roof covered (mostly) with the original slate stone tiles, is called Storybook. Sitting at the heart of the former Maverick Art Colony, the three-acre property is equally enchanting. Winding gardens strung with fairy lights lead to a gazebo and pond; worn bluestone steps lead to stone terranes and garden boxes; tucked amongst oak trees, two tiny stone cottages seem like something one would stumble onto in a fairy tale.

These days Gironda has a local construction firm and Facci now runs Facci’s Felted Friends—a specialty needle felting business creating custom lifelike replicas of people’s beloved pets and other woodland creatures. Built sometime in the 1940s, the 1,100-square foot Storybook cottage had been carefully crafted by an unknown artist but had fallen into disrepair until Gironda and Facci came along. “Now it stands proud again,” declares Facci. However, like the winding paths and stone staircases, it wasn’t a straight line from the time Facci first noticed Gironda around town to the charmed home they now find themselves in. “I love that it’s called Storybook,” Facci explains. “It sure feels like we’re in one.”

Once Upon a Time…

Living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and working in the magazine industry while crafting on the side, Facci decided she needed a tranquil refuge that could also serve as a creative outlet. “Crafting is just a way of life for me,” she explains. “My mind is always thinking of things I can make.” She had begun exploring upstate and soon realized that Woodstock sat at the perfect intersection between mountains and quirkiness. “I always wanted a house in the country,” says Facci. “I thought I’d wait for someone to come along and we’d do it together, but he never came along.” So, in 1999, she decided to do it herself, buying a place in the center of town, an area she loved for its proximity to wildlife and the funky village character (and characters). She fixed it up herself and became an official weekender, enjoying the local nightlife and making friends.

click to enlarge Facci converted a tiny cottage at one corner of the - property into a studio where she runs Facci’s Felted - Friends. She began needle felting animals as a hobby - in her Manhattan living room and in 2017 turned her - skill at it into a business. To recreate the cozy, feeling - of her former work space, she refinished the floors - and ceiling and loves to sit by the working fireplace - while she crafts. “I designed the studio to feel like a - mini-living room,” she explains. “I wanted a cozy, warm - feeling in here.” - WINONA BARTON BALLENTINE
  • Winona Barton Ballentine
  • Facci converted a tiny cottage at one corner of theproperty into a studio where she runs Facci’s FeltedFriends. She began needle felting animals as a hobbyin her Manhattan living room and in 2017 turned herskill at it into a business. To recreate the cozy, feelingof her former work space, she refinished the floorsand ceiling and loves to sit by the working fireplacewhile she crafts. “I designed the studio to feel like amini-living room,” she explains. “I wanted a cozy, warmfeeling in here.”

A year after buying her place, she first noticed that cyclist from the bar out and about. She didn’t know anything about him, but saw him often on weekends—including that night in the bar. Then one day, a friend suggested she meet “the guy who owns the bike shop,” she remembers. Facci walked in and realized it was the guy she’d been eyeing. “If I’d known he owned the bike shop I would have become a biker,” she says. Gironda was selling the shop and planning to move to Alaska, but a rock climbing accident delayed his plans. Facci nursed him back to health and he decided to stay in town. They two were married in 2004 and lived together in Woodstock—but only on weekends, since Facci kept her city job, returning to Manhattan every Monday for the workweek.

A Path to Somewhere

Even though they weren’t looking for a change, a 2014 listing caught Facci’s eye and eventually blew them in a whole new direction. “We weren’t planning to buy a house but sometimes I’d go online to see what was out there,” she explains. “When I saw Storybook, I was blown away.” 

click to enlarge The home’s living room was completely redesigned and rebuilt by Facci and Gironda in 2015. They rebuilt the walls, refinished the floors, painted, and added the fireplace insert.The space is decorated with an eclectic mix of Facci’s craft work. “I’m an avid crafter andmy mind is always looking for things I can make,” she - explains. Facci created faux birch logs in the fireplace out of old pizza boxes. She created the fireplace’s centerpiece mirror out of - garden sticks painted black and white to look like birch - WINONA BARTON BALLENTINE
  • Winona Barton Ballentine
  • The home’s living room was completely redesigned and rebuilt by Facci and Gironda in 2015. They rebuilt the walls, refinished the floors, painted, and added the fireplace insert.The space is decorated with an eclectic mix of Facci’s craft work. “I’m an avid crafter andmy mind is always looking for things I can make,” sheexplains. Facci created faux birch logs in the fireplace out of old pizza boxes. She created the fireplace’s centerpiece mirror out ofgarden sticks painted black and white to look like birch

Facci had always been drawn to stone houses and she loved the arched doors and winding pathways—some of them leading to absolutely nowhere. “You could see the love and attention that was put into the house in the 1940s,” says Facci. “But over the years it had been neglected.” She knew that with her and Gironda’s combined skills they could uncover its original beauty. They took a leap and bought the home, and in 2015 began a major rehab.

They began with the living room and kitchen. Painted in bright pink, blue, and green, the open concept space was dominated by a curvy, bluestone fireplace at one end—its shape reminiscent of a potbellied stove. Exposed beams ran along the ceilings and original oak planks ran throughout the first floor. The couple tore out the painted walls in both kitchen and living room, exposing bluestone walls. Facci took a week off to sand and stain over 100 pine boards, which they laid into an interlocking diamond pattern along the fireplace wall. They painted the adjacent walls white and refinished the oak floorboards.

click to enlarge The open-concept kitchen required a complete remodel. Facci laid most of the subway tiles herself. The couple added open wood shelving, stainless steel appliances, and a farmhouse sink. In the process of the gutting the space they uncovered the arched back door, which they incorporated two the kitchen’s design. “We were very happy with the overall result,” says Facci. “I love the contrast of the wood trim against the white tile.” - WINONA BARTON BALLENTINE
  • Winona Barton Ballentine
  • The open-concept kitchen required a complete remodel. Facci laid most of the subway tiles herself. The couple added open wood shelving, stainless steel appliances, and a farmhouse sink. In the process of the gutting the space they uncovered the arched back door, which they incorporated two the kitchen’s design. “We were very happy with the overall result,” says Facci. “I love the contrast of the wood trim against the white tile.”

The kitchen required a complete re-do, but their hard work yielded some buried treasure. After gutting the space down to the studded bluestone walls, they uncovered a long forgotten back door. Plastered over by a previous owner, the arched, Dutch door led to a stone staircase and the back gardens. The couple painted the back door and wall blue, adding white trim and black hardware to the design. Facci covered the remaining kitchen walls in white subway tiles and trimmed the walls with wood along the ceilings. “I distressed the wood by hammering holes, banging it with a chain, staining it dark and then using a torch to burn areas,” she explains. Black-and-white penny tiles line the floors. Open wood shelving and wood counters hiding an undercounted refrigerator and cabinets complete the look.

Adjacent to the kitchen, the home’s dining area looks out over the front garden and steps. Here, the couple left an entire wall of exposed bluestone as well as exposed bluestone wainscoting under the windows. They painted the remaining walls and window trim white and added a metal chandelier.

click to enlarge Gironda and Facci suspect their dining area was once an outdoor porch that was eventually enclosed. They left one of the bluestone walls exposed and accentuated the stone walls and trim by adding an iron chandelier. A cut-out in the stone wall serves as an ad hoc bar. - WINONA BARTON BALLENTINE
  • Winona Barton Ballentine
  • Gironda and Facci suspect their dining area was once an outdoor porch that was eventually enclosed. They left one of the bluestone walls exposed and accentuated the stone walls and trim by adding an iron chandelier. A cut-out in the stone wall serves as an ad hoc bar.

Exposed bluestone walls are also featured throughout the first-floor bedroom suite. They expanded the ensuite bathroom by capturing space from a closet. After finishing the space with white subway tiles in the shower and black and white penny tiles along the floor, they left one stone wall. A trim of rabbit printed wallpaper completes the eclectic mix. A second-floor bedroom and bathroom, with Douglas fir floorboards, is enjoyed by guests.

At Home in the Woods

The pandemic provided another turn in Facci and Gironda’s path. With New York City under quarantine, Facci decided to try living upstate full-time. With both on the premises, they got to work, expanding the property’s gardens and pond and refurbishing a stone terrace together. Facci also turned her eye to a small cottage at the corner of their property. The tiny space included a full stone fireplace and more bluestone walls. “I think whoever built the home lived here while he was building it,” says Facci.

click to enlarge The downstairs bedroom was part of an addition added to the home sometime in the 1970s. In reworking the space, the couple could tell the difference in craft between old construction and new. “All the real problems were in the newer construction,” says Gironda. “The original construction has really stood the test of time.” To create a main bedroom suite, the couple tore out sheetrock and recovered the walls. They added a colorful mix of antique wooden drawers and an refurbished armoire with an iron-framed bed - WINONA BARTON BALLENTINE
  • Winona Barton Ballentine
  • The downstairs bedroom was part of an addition added to the home sometime in the 1970s. In reworking the space, the couple could tell the difference in craft between old construction and new. “All the real problems were in the newer construction,” says Gironda. “The original construction has really stood the test of time.” To create a main bedroom suite, the couple tore out sheetrock and recovered the walls. They added a colorful mix of antique wooden drawers and an refurbished armoire with an iron-framed bed

They decided to refurbish the space as a home for Facci’s craft business, Facci’s Felted Friends. Facci learned needle felting during her time living in Manhattan and then begun crafting small woodland creatures with the technique. When a friend asked her to felt two squirrels as a wedding topper, she opened an Etsy shop selling cake designs and individual animals. Then, to challenge herself, she created more lifelike designs. In 2017, a viral video accelerated her needle felting from hobby to business as orders for her creations picked up. Now she runs the business full-time, crafting replicas of pets from her studio. “I just love the joy it brings to my customers,” says Facci. “I enjoy creating the fine details. I try really hard to get all the markings and features right.”

click to enlarge Facci and Gironda captured space from a closet to expand their en suite bathroom. After completely revamping the bathroom with a tiled shower, wooden vanity, and new mirror, they finished the space with whimsical wallpaper. - WINONA BARTON BALLENTINE
  • Winona Barton Ballentine
  • Facci and Gironda captured space from a closet to expand their en suite bathroom. After completely revamping the bathroom with a tiled shower, wooden vanity, and new mirror, they finished the space with whimsical wallpaper.

The quarantine didn’t just bring Facci new business opportunities, or the chance to enjoy country life full-time. After living with her husband full-time, for the first time, it brought a happy realization. “We really like each other!” she says.

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