A couple weekends ago (breaking up the drive back from Maine) we stayed in Brooklyn artists Frantiska and Tim Gilman’s Catskills log cabin, and the place is an absolute dream — especially for people with kids. It rained much of the weekend, but it didn’t matter — our boys were as happy catching frogs in the pouring rain as they were playing board games at the big farmhouse table on the covered front porch. Our last night there, the weather cleared up and we made a fire in the fire pit, surrounded by tree-stump seats, while the boys waded through the stream until we lost the last bit of dappled sunlight streaming through the trees. There were roasted marshmallows and a sky full of stars.
I could go on ad nauseum about the grounds–a stream, three ponds, little trails through tall wildflowers brimming with butterflies, the best climbing tree in the whole-wide-world (direct quote from my six-year-old)–but the actual cabin was just as special. Frantiska refinished many of the well-worn antique furnishings herself, and the walls are covered in pieces that speak to their artistic leanings as well as tell stories about their history. They bought botany and biology posters from a man with a whole cellar full of them in a village in Czech Republic near the Polish border where Frantiska’s father grew up. And the stunning, oversized map in the living room was pieced together by her father who reproduced it from an old 18th-century map he found in the Prague library where he worked as the curator of contemporary art exhibitions. In the living room, an antique glass cabinet is “our ‘wunderkammern,’ filled with birds nests we collect on the property, an ostrich egg, and the bits and pieces of porcelain and crystal services we get from local antique shops.”
They bought the place five years ago and over the years, they’ve replaced the roof, refinished the floors, reconstructed rotting porches, and installed a bathroom upstairs. But they were already working with some beautiful stock: The cabin was originally built using all local materials (red pine felled right on the property and hand-hewn), as well as reclaimed barn wood, which the original owner/builder got from disassembling barns. Other details–like the slabs of local bluestone for the fireplace, a bathroom floor made from reclaimed bricks from a kiln chimney, and a kitchen island countertop made from a barn door–add layer after layer of rustic character.
There are three bedrooms (sleeps up to eight), and it’s extremely kid-friendly. Prices start at $450 for a weekend. The town of Andes is adorable, with lots of little shops and cafes along the main drag, and the area is known for its amazing hiking trails. Rent it at vrbo.com.