Hamptons (Un)Real Estate


‘I’ll trade you 450 square feet for, like, a jillion dollars.’

Even the ad was small. So small I’d missed it entirely.

I’d just passed The Dude the real estate section of the East Hampton Star and he says “Hey, look. The Little House. It’s for sale.”

“Really? How much are they asking?” (The Little House was what we called our much-beloved former ‘Hamptons home’.) Well, when he told me the price, which was as astonishingly large as the house is astoundingly small, I grabbed that section back fast. “You have got to be kidding!”

“Look!” I say, reading from the (very small) ad and snorting coffee every which way, “it says it’s ‘3 BR, 2B'”. Good grief. Are they counting the outdoor shower?

A study in studs. The Dude shows off the ‘great room’ of our then Little House In Progress

Now I’ve written about the Little House before, in a piece called ‘The Perfect House meets the Perfect Storm(s)’ , where I talk not only about how much we loved this house (which we did) but also how it was so ramshackle when we bought it that we basically had to rebuild it from scratch and how it was like living on a boat. Really like living on a boat. For one thing, it was only 450 square feet, which is tiny for a house, but pretty roomy for a boat. But mostly because you could see water in practically every direction. Continue reading

The Perfect House meets The Perfect Storm(s)


‘The Little House that could. For a while, anyway’

A few weeks ago I told you about sharing a very small beach house with a couple of necessarily very small people.

This week’s story is about an even smaller beach house. At 450 square feet (this included the deck), it made the share-with-the-short-people boat house seem like the Taj Mahal. But at least it was ours-all-ours. It was the first house we bought, and we didn’t have to share it with anyone. Well, at least not till The Child came along.

This house was so small (around 20×20; think about it) that the whole thing could fit into the kitchen of the house we have now. And, trust me, this kitchen is pretty much a normal-sized kitchen. But darn it, that Gerard Drive house was cute. And located right on the water. Gosh, it had water on two sides.

Our teensy little house was the second one from the top (right after the squinched-in bit) on that skinny little road running down that itty-bitty piece of land that looks like an appendix. Or a Junior Florida. Or something

How could we afford this waterfront-front-and-back property? Well. The wiring was spaghetti, the insulation was nonexistent, and the plumbing? Well, when you turned on the shower, the water came on just fine — but in the closet. So we basically had to rip it down to the studs and start over. (The studs, incidentally, turned out to be recycled burned timber. Sigh.)

Looking from our bedroom into our kitchen. The good news -- and bad news? That's Gardiner's Bay outside

Looking from our bedroom into our kitchen during our ‘remodeling’. The good news — and bad news? That’s Gardiner’s Bay right outside

Well, every renovation has a silver lining. Or, um, a price that would equal, like, tons of silver ingots. But we ended up with the snuggest little shipshape house you ever did see. Everything was designed like we lived on a boat: no wasted space at all. No room for a closet in the (one) bedroom? Fine. We had a bed built with drawers in it. No room for a second story? Fine. We put a boat ladder up to a ‘loft’ (ten square feet with a futon). Add some skylights and sliders to the afore-mentioned deck, and we had ourselves all the sun-drenched room we needed. And boy, was that house easy to clean (!) Ten minutes, tops, and that included scrubbing the (one minuscule) bathroom. Continue reading

Getting along with the neighbors


‘A landlubber learns to lub the sea. Well, sort of.’

As someone who grew up in the Midwest far from any major body of water — not even a Great Lake, mind you — I have always maintained a healthy respect for the ocean.

I mean, creatures live in the ocean. Big creatures. Sure, lakes have fish living in them. But the odd perch or bluegill or crappie (yes, that’s a fish, pronounced ‘croppie’, in case you were wondering) isn’t really very scary. Unless you’re treading water and one of them, you know, brushes against your leg under the water. Which is pretty creepy.

Me, gamely 'enjoying' Lake Carlyle. Hoping that a crappie won't take a fancy to one of my toes

Me, gamely ‘enjoying’ Lake Carlyle. Hoping that a crappie won’t take a fancy to one of my toes. Note that my hair is not even wet

But ‘creepy’ doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the creatures who frequent the briny deep. I made this deal with them early on in our relationship — sharks, manta rays, jellyfish, are you listening? — ‘You stay out of my living room, and I’ll stay out of yours.’

Continue reading