This 'Floating' Farmhouse Might Be the Most Beautiful Rental in the Catskills

It's the perfect blend of old and new. And it's waiting just for you.

The exterior of the Floating Farmhouse
Photo: Lawrence Braun/Courtesy of Floating Farmhouse

If you're going to take the time to go on vacation, you might as well ensure that every element of your getaway is the best of the best. That includes your accommodations, too, which is why, if you're looking to take a break in the Catskills, there's nowhere better than the Floating Farmhouse.

The famed vacation rental, located just two hours north of New York City, is known for its gorgeous architecture and light-filled spaces, designed by its owner, former advertising copywriter and self-taught designer, Tom Givone.

The living room inside of the Floating Farmhouse
Derek Walker/Courtesy of Floating Farmhouse

"Having just restored my first home, a derelict 1882 Victorian row house in historic Harlem, a friend tipped me off about all these marvelous 1800s farmsteads going to seed in Sullivan County, on the western edge of the Catskill Mountains," Givone tells Travel + Leisure about his renovation journey. "So, I started poking around."

By 2007, he had resuscitated several old farmhouses in the area, experimenting with different designs and materials, before stumbling upon the Floating Farmhouse, which he says was "a rambling wreck perched at the edge of a pristine Catskills creek, lapping against the crumbling manor home like an ancient moat." So, he left a note on the door, asking if the owner might be interested in selling.

"This one called me back," Givone says.

The dining table at Floating Farmhouse
Marlene Rounds/Courtesy of Floating Farmhouse

Upon beginning the renovation, Givone discovered the home had plenty of issues. Rotted siding, missing windowpanes, and three feet of water in the basement, just to make a few.

"Floating Farmhouse was literally a sinking ship when I first discovered it," he says. "But I had a hunch that the good stuff was lurking beneath all those layers."

Givone brought his vision to life by combining what he calls "primitive and industrial architecture" to both enhance and contrast one another. He mixed ancient hand-hewn beams, wide-plank floors, and original wavy-glass windows with swathes of skyscraper glass, corten steel, and polished concrete.

"The design process was hands-on and intuitive, and very much rooted in 'place,' directly inspired by the home's uniquely spectacular setting and history," he says. "Hence, a towering wall of glass was conceived to best capture dramatic views of the creek, meadow, apple trees, and barns."

A bedroom inside the Floating Farmhouse
Mark Mahaney/Courtesy of Floating Farmhouse

Speaking of the great outdoors, it found its way inside the house, too. Givone says he felled 11 ancient pine trees on the property, but used every piece to create something in the home, including beadboard ceilings and the home's wainscoting. The interiors also include pieces by Resource Furniture, who worked hand in hand with Givone to round out his vision of creating a country farmhouse that contrasts with industrial, commercial materials. The pieces include the home's rather popular wall beds, complete with scannable QR codes to instruct guests on how to use the furniture.

"People love the wall beds," Givone says. "They're excited to see these new pieces and how they work in an old place. They're modern, but they're not too modern. They're very clean, and that's the key. There are enough modern elements here that Resource Furniture is just at home in the Floating Farmhouse," says Givone.

A table on the floating porch at Floating Farmhouse
Marlene Rounds/Courtesy of Floating Farmhouse

Start to finish, Givone says it was a five-year labor of love transformation.

"As always, the intent was to rescue the home and property from oblivion, restore the original details, and reinterpret it with a modernist sensibility," he shares. "What I did not anticipate was how rewarding it would be to share the Floating Farmhouse, and by extension my life's work, with others in such a personal way. It truly is a joyous place, and having guests experience that same joy I felt upon first discovering it is a gift that keeps on giving. As guests see it for the first time, so do I, again and again."

See more about the home and book your stay here.

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