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Ranch house makeover

Local builder scores a television series


BETHEL, NY — Try finding a nondescript, some might say boring, ranch-style house on a near perfect setting in Sullivan County, and it’s not so easy to do. But that’s what location scout Jack Thomasson was looking for when he entered the office of local builder Charles Petersheim, owner of Catskill Farms in Eldred ( ).

Thomasson scouts locations for homes to be built for a television program called Blog Cabin, which is shown on the DIY Network. Usually, the program builds a brand-new home in a picturesque setting somewhere in the country. But this time around, the producers decided to do a serious renovation project and chose Petersheim to help with the job.

But finding the right house took about six months. Petersheim said, “Either the house has a bad neighbor, or it’s at the bottom of a hill, or it’s on a main road; there were all these factors that kept getting in the way of finding the perfect boring ranch house.”

But they finally found it on Happy Avenue in Bethel. It’s on a five-acre parcel, across the street from a horse farm, and has great views, including one of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The DIY network bought the house and on March 6, demolition began.

Now the house is pretty much an empty shell, but it will be turned into a fully functioning modern weekend getaway by this July. At various stages of construction, camera crews will return to the house to film the process.

But this isn’t a typical renovation job. By logging onto the show’s website,, members of the public get to add their input about materials or products that go into the house. From March 15 through March 21, for instance, viewers can vote on the style of the shutters, fencing, mailbox and front door, among other things.

And those who get really hooked can check out the progress through two “cabin cams” that are trained on the front and back exteriors of the house. At the end of the project, the network will give the house away in a sweepstakes.

Petersheim sees the project as providing positive exposure for Bethel and Sullivan County. He said there will probably be eight shows that feature the renovation project, as well as five shows that concentrate on specific areas. Those programs are: BATHtastic!, Desperate Landscapes, House Crashers, Kitchen Impossible and Indoors Out.

TRR photo by Fritz Mayer
Builder Charles Petersheim gives a tour of the shell of a home on Happy Avenue in Bethel that he will be renovating over the next several months for a television series to be shown on the DIY Network. (Click for larger version)
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer
The property features a distant view of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. (Click for larger version)
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer
This Bethel, NY ranch house from the 1970s provided the nondescript façade the producers were looking for. (Click for larger version)
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer
The house sits on a five-acre parcel. (Click for larger version)