It was time for Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen to move—again. After years of living in LA, the multi-talented actors—Amanda is now a full-time designer and Corbin has serious carpentry skills—were newly settled in their upstate New York farmhouse (see Hollywood in the Hudson Valley) when they decided they liked the scenery but needed more space.
In California, the couple lost count of their joint house productions at 20: they purchase, overhaul, stay a while, and then flip. The practice continues upstate, where, Amanda says, the cold climate calls for “wallpaper, sexy colors, lots of layers,” and others elements of her English upbringing.
Their new 1880 property came on the market while the couple were at their Family House in the South of France, the only property they say they’ll never sell. Two of their four sons did the touring and inspecting, and they bought the farm from afar. In addition to five bedrooms and a pool, this one had original details lurking under the carpeting and paint: “It was promising,” says Amanda, “but very, very tired.”
During the eight months of construction, the couple assumed their roles: Corbin is the space planner, cabinet designer, and fence builder. She orchestrates the overhaul, selects the finishes and furnishings, and does the bargaining. Together they scour auctions, architectural reclamation yards, and appliance stores in Paramus, New Jersey: they’re willing to drive hours for a find and are of the “walk away if the price is too high” school of shopping. “Don’t madly fall in love with every piece,” instructs Amanda, “keep looking and ask to try things at home.” She invited us in for a tour, and was happy to share where they shelled out and where they saved.
Photography by The Lillie K. Team (@buyingupstate), courtesy of Amanda Pays.
The contractors on the project were Hudson Building and Restoration: “I saw their sign in Germantown, called them, they came over and started work the next day. I’m now on my second house with Mike and Joe.”
Corbin bought the burl walnut round table from Finch Hudson, a favorite shop of Amanda’s on Hudson New York’s Warren Street: “Owners Andrew and Michael posted, ‘Be in the alley at 9 am on Friday for our unload.’ I went to the optometrist and sent Corbin. He texted a photo when only the base was visible. The price was in the three figures; it seemed reasonable and exactly what we needed for the front hall; we bought it before we’d even seen the top—with no regrets.” The antique candle pendant light came from Luddite Antiques in nearby Germantown—”we had to pay more than we’d like for that.”
Note the wall-to-wall woven carpeting: this was the only room that lacked its original wooden floor due to a long ago fire, so as an affordable remedy, Amanda went to a local carpet store and requested “the basic, original seagrass—it’s the cheapest; it’s what we had in England in the seventies and is great for layering.”
Above: The kitchen cabinetry was built to Corbin’s design by local carpenter Ross Brown of Romberworks. It’s painted Behr’s Black Bamboo and the backsplash zellige are from Zia Tile. The appliances are all KitchenAid and were bought as a bulk package from P.C. Richard: Amanda advises “do your research and see if they can match another deal you’ve found. And buy appliances as a package–it saves a ton.”
The mod stools are from West Elm, “they were originally bought for the flip house we did in LA during Covid.” The woven bull head is a souvenir from their place in France.
Decorative vent holes—”a very British thing”—front the drawers that hold root vegetables and bread. “I had to teach our guy what they are and how to make them.”
Previous designs and remodeling tips from the couple:
- 11 Money-Saving Strategies from a Hollywood House Flipper
- Rehab Diary: Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen Air Their Dirty Laundry
- Backyard Bunkhouse, Hollywood Royal Family Edition
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