Joan’s On the Move on the Renovation Road

Joan’s revealing the beginning renovations of her new home!


A Spring closing and awakening! It’s going to be a fun journey making this house my new home.


Part I – Buying | Planning | First Steps

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to find a small home in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. The house I moved to after I sold my property in Ancramdale (5 years ago) was just perfect.  I renovated it and it was featured in our book, Love Where You Live. I had 5 wonderful years there, but sadly, I did not own it, and the owner’s needs had changed and she no longer wanted to rent the house.  So I was on the hunt for a house again!

Mimi Ramos of Elyse Harney Real Estate

Mimi Ramos of Elyse Harney Real Estate

I was gun shy about renting again and taking the time and money to renovate without owning, so I set out with the wonderful help of realtor Mimi Ramos (Elyse Harney Real Estate) to find that perfect small house in either the Northwest Corner of Connecticut or in Millerton, New York.  I set my parameters:

1)  I wanted to be close to a town

2) I wanted a small house, and

3) I wanted something that I could put my own stamp on before someone else had done major renovations I didn’t  like.

Mimi selectively took me to various properties. I found one early on that I loved.  Everything was done and I loved it and I could just move right in.  The asking price was higher than I wanted to spend and what I felt it was worth, but the factor of it being in move-in condition made me go for it.  After a bidding back and forth, I came to my senses, and decided I would be paying way too much for this house, and even though we were just a few thousand dollars apart, I stopped bidding and they would not accept my final offer.  I let it go!


Then in February, I was at Hylton Hundt Salon for a hair appointment.  Just like the salon in Steel Magnolias, Hylton Hundt is not only a hub for the best “hairapy” in the Tristate area, but it’s a place where you meet other locals and dish it up while “getting your beauty on”.   Lucky for me, Pat Best (from Best & Cavallaro Real Estate) was there that day and we started talking about my house hunt.  She knew of a home that was coming on the market and was kind enough to let Mimi work with her office to show me the home.

[click images to enlarge]


This house was not a place where I could move right in and not do some renovating.  I knew, though, the minute I stepped foot in the house, I could see myself living there. My mind was all over it — taking walls down…new kitchen…new paint colors.  But, the most important factors were there:

  • The bones of the house were amazing.
  • It was just the right size (a full bath upstairs but not one the first floor, but I could manage without it)
  • The yard was beautiful and fenced in for Etta
  • The neighborhood was lovely, and
  • The karma of the space just spoke to me.

I do believe in all of this and you can feel it. Within a week I was in contract, and I waited until Spring to close.

What a difference already with the wood floors exposed.

What a difference already with the wood floors exposed.


Since then we have been working on the house.  We started the journey with my wonderful contractor extraordinaire, Bob Williams, and his assistant, Mike Cayea.  As always, I work with a team to help me, and most importantly, Wanda Furman and my daughter Dana, helped me with key decisions.  We are far along enough now that I am sharing the beginning of the journey.



Stayed tuned over the next few weeks as we begin to follow the story of making my house into a “home” and the thought process myself and my team have and are using to tackle this small, but very special space.



  • Cindy McMahon says:

    Love your “new” cozy nest, Joan. Thank you for sharing the renovation process. Looking forward to seeing how it unfolds–excited to see what warm and wonderful interiors you, Wanda and Dana create! Best always, Cindy McMahon

  • Joan…
    thanks for sharing… we are just so thrilled to be on these journeys together… your adorable new home looks like you..
    small, well built and great bone structure!!! most of all and as always we love your generosity and how well you share it all…

    You are truly the BEST ..the most wonderful business woman, friend, client, educator, mom and grandmother..and you always stay high… as Michelle Obama says… “when they go low we stay high” and you always, ALWAYS do… you are a marvelous
    example and mentor for all of us at any age.. Thank you for guiding and making life and living more beautiful thru the sparkle in your eyes….xxxs+p

  • Virginia Louis says:

    Ooh, Joan! How wonderful! Can’t wait for the next installment! Good luck and hang in there!

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