Saving (and Splurging) with Style: Hollywood House Flippers Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen in Upstate NY

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.

a few days after their offer was accepted, amanda flew back from france on her  9
Above: A few days after their offer was accepted, Amanda flew back from France on her own and headed straight from the airport to the house: “Fortunately, I fell in love.” The structure came with 12-panel, wavy-glass windows, original cladding, and a viable roof—”a huge savings.” Formerly pale yellow, it’s now painted Farrow & Ball James White and Benjamin Moore Baked Terra Cotta—colors that wind their way through the house as a way to tie together the update. a few days after their offer was accepted, amanda flew back from france on her  10Above: The porch had a lot of rot—”pillars were dangling”— and required rebuilding; the couple widened it and had it turn the corner to extend off the living room. As for the sky blue ceiling: Amanda says, “It was already there, I just made it more pronounced.”

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.”