Adrienne Truscott's Innovative Camper Home in Tivoli | House Profiles | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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Adrienne Truscott's Innovative Camper Home in Tivoli

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An interior wall of Truscott and Covelli’s garage turned studio/ shed. Covelli built the wood-scrap-insulated walls from pieces he salvaged from the property and donations from friends. - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • An interior wall of Truscott and Covelli’s garage turned studio/ shed. Covelli built the wood-scrap-insulated walls from pieces he salvaged from the property and donations from friends.

Covelli and Truscott didn't quite know the answer. However, years of collaborating on countless shows had taught them the possibility of creating beauty out of remnants and cast-offs. The couple's partnership began with a first date that turned into an impromptu Dumpster dive. ("It was a clean Dumpster," Covelli is quick to clarify, "and it was a really great chair.") "People don't understand, unless they are in the theater, how you can just get stuff for free," explains Truscott. "After events, people often throw everything away. I'm always asking things like, 'You're just using all that lumber tonight?' 'All those curtains, you're just putting them in the Dumpster?'" The couple knew if they looked around they would probably find what they needed, or something they could adapt, as they had always done in their work. "Bit by bit, we've been doing the same thing—using our skills and our artmaking brains to make this beautiful, weird thing out of nothing."

Adapt, Recycle, Renew

The interior of the couple’s studio looks out over the pond. Covelli built the island at the center out of construction netting, leftover wood, and 107 one-gallon containers left behind by the property’s previous owners. - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • The interior of the couple’s studio looks out over the pond. Covelli built the island at the center out of construction netting, leftover wood, and 107 one-gallon containers left behind by the property’s previous owners.

They began by doing "everything backward," says Truscott. Their first push mower resulted in only a hand full of blisters for Covelli and made very little headway clearing the overgrown land. However, a hundred-dollar riding mower—"literally just a seat over an engine"—scored from a junk collector in Hudson, allowed them to cut back the weeds around the willow tree and along the pond until they found grass. The first few summers, the couple were frequently touring, so they just camped out in the cleared space, working on the property the days they could be in town, and then hopping into the pond to cool off at sundown. A neighbor offered to raze the eyesore of a house for free, and Covelli saved the wood scraps, using a few to build his first structure on the property: An eight-foot-square dock at the edge of the pond. A few years later, they found an $800-dollar camper in New Jersey and began to extend their time upstate through the autumn months, eventually adding solar panels to the roof.

With the house gone, they knew they wanted to build a more substantial structure but weren't sure what. When Covelli found a free-standing garage that came as a kit, a more permanent structure felt doable. "It became just like putting on a show," explains Truscott, lapsing into theater jargon. "It seemed like we were getting ready for tech week." They adapted the two-story, 12-by-20-foot structure into a shed with the entrance facing the pond, swapping out the original garage door with a glass one they found. The kit came with two windows and stairs leading to an ample second-story storage area, which now doubles as extra sleeping space. Covelli added a kitchen area at the back of the structure, as well as a bluestone-lined composting toilet and shower off to the opposite side of the building. With a wood stove and added insulation, the studio is comfortable in all four seasons, allowing them to warm over and hatch new ideas throughout the year.

Truscott and Covelli in their open studio space. Truscott began as a hockey player, became a dancer, and then studied circus arts. She now combines her varied skills into provocative, comedic theater. A musician, actor, and dancer, Covelli’s latest venture—a food truck/ record shop called the Vinyl Donut—sells donuts, LPs, and turntables - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • Truscott and Covelli in their open studio space. Truscott began as a hockey player, became a dancer, and then studied circus arts. She now combines her varied skills into provocative, comedic theater. A musician, actor, and dancer, Covelli’s latest venture—a food truck/ record shop called the Vinyl Donut—sells donuts, LPs, and turntables

After being taken over by mice, their camper had to be gutted last summer. True to their talents as recyclers, Covelli and Truscott utilized the opportunity to turn the space into an elegant bedroom, with kitchenette and sitting area. Covelli added new supports to the trailer, and installed a bar top and wood floor gleaned from a theater being demolished in New York City. A metal closet was gifted from friends and cinder blocks from the original house foundation are now used as steps.

This summer, Covelli finally used the last remnants of wood from the razed house. An outdoor shower hidden in a grove of trees utilizes a tankless water heater to run hot water—a far cry from their days of jumping in the pond. The wood was used to build a privacy screen around the shower, which is open to the canopy of beech trees above. As their structures have become more permanent, both Truscott and Covelli have become more rooted in the Hudson Valley. Covelli has been invited to bring the Vinyl Donut to multiple outdoor events this fall at Bard, where Truscott will be teaching a course this semester. "Everything seems to have been leading us here," says Truscott.

Read a transcript of a conversation between Adrienne Truscott and Chronogram editor Brian K. Mahoney about her one-woman show "Asking For It."

Built by Covelli, the outdoor shower features a tankless water heater and wood-and-metal privacy screen. - DEBORAH DEGRAFFENREID
  • Deborah DeGraffenreid
  • Built by Covelli, the outdoor shower features a tankless water heater and wood-and-metal privacy screen.

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