Cottages of Color

OF THE DECISIONS I’ll be making in upcoming months, the most fun is what color to paint the doors and trim on my cedar-shingled cottage.

The fact that it has cedar shingles is one of the things that drew me to it in the first place. They have been the vernacular cladding material on the South Fork all the way back to the 17th century, and you still see them everywhere, on houses old and new.

Springs Fireplace Road

Springs Fireplace Road, Springs (East Hampton)

I love turquoise against the weathered gray-brown, but do I have the nerve? Perhaps a subtler shade of blue would be the ticket. Or white for the trim and blue for the door.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

Somewhere in the Hamptons, Photo: House Beautiful

Somewhere in the Hamptons - Photo: House Beautiful

Red? I won’t go there, but I admire those who do.

Three Mile Harbor Road, Springs

Three Mile Harbor Road, Springs

Yellow? Definitely not. (That’s an antique store, below, so it can be excused.)

Sag Harbor (it's an antiques store, so can be excused)

Sag Harbor

There’s always classic white.

Old Stone Highway, Springs

Old Stone Highway, Springs

Sage green is what I have now, and it’s attractive and natural-looking, kind of Adirondack-y, but I want to put my own stamp on the place.

Which do you like? Input welcome!

Hamptons House Under 500K

YES, IT’S POSSIBLE. There are more and more listings under 500K in this neck of the woods. The contemporary saltbox below is on 1/2 acre in Springs, not far from me. Unconventional, but I rather like it.

It was highlighted recently on Newsday.com, and brought to my attention by Michael Daly’s frequently updated Hamptons Real Estate Blog, which aggregates South Fork real estate news and notes.

47051441

14 Hollyoak Ave. 11937
$475,000
Info: Elizabeth “Missy” Capozzoli, Town & Country Real Estate, 516-382-4481

It’s All Good

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a day, and a little sunshine, make.

Since my whiny post of 24 hours ago, a slew of encouraging things have happened:

  • I discovered the source of the scary beeping. It was an OLD smoke detector I had found on top of the refrigerator the night before and tossed in the trash outside, never imagining the battery was still good and that rain (?) could set it off. When LIPA arrived (I called but was too late to stop them), I apologized and was told, “No problem – we’re on overtime.” LIPA’s rates are famously high.
  • The dumpster was removed from my driveway.
  • Marcello’s men came to tamp down the muddy mess in the driveway. They’re returning today to continue the battle against the forces of evil wisteria.

    $5 hanging basket

    $5 hanging basket

  • I went swimming at the gigantic, modern East Hampton Y, which is like the gym of a major midwestern university ($37/month!)
  • I bought two hanging baskets of annuals for the front deck for $5 each at a farmer’s market.IMG_0640
  • I discovered the Ladies’ Village Improvement Society (how Victorian is that?) thrift shop and bought a big magazine basket for $10, with promise of more to come.

    Rich pickin's at the LVIS

    Rich pickin's at the LVIS

  • I joined the East Hampton library and discovered they have an entire room of gardening books, including some of my favorites which are packed away in storage. I took out about 10 of them for inspiration and ideas as I make plans to organize the backyard into functional spaces.
  • The sun is out and the house is a temperate 66 degrees.
  • I had a good meal last night at the chic Laundry (restaurant, not laundromat) with my friend Jifat.
  • I’ve been invited to an art opening and a party but am hanging loose — not sure I want to tear myself away from the house and my long to-do list.

    My local beach (Maidstone) reminds me of the Greek Islands in its pristineness and serenity

    The pristineness and serenity of my local beach, Maidstone, reminds me of the (undiscovered) Greek Islands

Not a Happy Camper

IT IS TEEMING, my house is 57 degrees, and there’s a dumpster full of broken wood in the driveway, which has been torn apart by fork-lift tracks and is now an un-navigable sea of mud. I was awakened this morning by a mysterious beeping that sounds like a truck backing up. It seems to be coming from the front of my cottage, somewhere near the electric meter. I called LIPA, the electric company, because I don’t know who else to call. They’re coming but “it could be a while,” because L.I. is riddled with power outages today.

Shed begone!

My property, 4/10 of an acre stretching into Town-owned woods, now stands ready for my gardening ministrations. I should, I’m told, remove a foot or two of soil, dig out ALL the weed roots, and bring in yards of topsoil and manure, but I can’t face it. I’ll work with what’s here, which looks like pretty rich soil, and there’s a nice compost heap about 12 feet long and 3 feet high, conveniently located right in the middle of the yard.

 

I’m going to need a lot of patience, which is not my forte. There’s not as much good plant material here as I hoped, now that the junk is cleared away. Last night I had a mini-revelation: I need shrubs. I don’t know much about them. There are gaps to be filled and structure to be created in that middle area between the trees and the perennial beds that will one day cover the ground.

Glad I kept the cherry - 2/3 of it, anyway

Glad I kept the cherry - 2/3 of it, anyway

This weekend I’ll dig out most of the barberry, and I’m thinking about moving a few shrubs and small trees from the rear of the property to the front, where they’ll look pretty and help abate road noise. I’ve never moved a tree before (there’s a 10′ or 12′ tall conifer in the ‘wrong place,’ as far as I’m concerned, blocking the view from the porch to the woods), but I’m sure it can be done.

Going out shortly to get away from this infernal beeping, join the library (hope they have a good selection of gardening books), and go for a swim at the East Hampton Y, which has a huge, sparkling, uncrowded pool:-)

Can’t wait to get that car heater on full blast. Is it really almost June?

House Progress

DAY 2 OF GARDEN CLEAN-UP by Tri-R Services, otherwise known as Marcello and his crew. There’s been a lot of sawing, chipping, weed-whacking and leaf-blowing – in other words, noise. They seem to be doing a wonderful job of reducing my overgrown Eden to a pared-down version of itself, minus a few dead trees and the wisteria that had, in some cases, literally strangled trees and shrubs to death ($800 just for the wisteria).

My overgrown Eden

My overgrown Eden

Of course some of it will come back. They can’t have gotten it all. But I can deal with wisteria from the ground – I can’t reach 100 feet into the trees.

Tomorrow the shed goes. It’s actually kind of romantic, like Robinson Crusoe’s hut, sheltered by an old low-hanging cherry tree (not the flowering kind, apparently), which I’ve been agonizing over. First I asked Marcello to cut it down, since one of its three trunks is broken and with just two it will be hopelessly asymmetrical. Then I decided they should just prune it, because it’s graceful and dramatic and the well-established bed of ferns underneath — my favorite feature of the garden — won’t be happy suddenly exposed to full sun.

Last day

Last day

(Re the shed: I went to the Town of East Hampton Building Department and, on the advice of locals, looked up my property┬á records to make sure the shed was on the survey they had in their files, so that I can replace it in future with an equal size structure if I want to. It is. I hoped to find out when the house was built, but all I discovered was that it was erected “before adoption of zoning,” which happened in 1958, I was told. Also found out that the previous owners were here nearly 40 years. I hadn’t known that. Somehow, it makes the house feel more loved.)

Somebody loved this house

Somebody loved this house

Inside, I’m puttering around, making things looks homey on a budget of zero. I counted 15 existing pieces of furniture I’ve kept and am using. A surprising amount of the rest is things I found on the street in Brooklyn.

Zero-dollars decorating

Zero-dollars decorating

Table and chairs were here

Table and chairs were here

I ordered a stove and fridge from Sears. I was salivating over the blue Smeg for $1,700 but decided on a white Whirlpool for $400. It’s small — 9.2 cu. ft. — but I didn’t want a monster in the room. I’ll paint the lower cabinets blue instead. The stove is electric, a first for me. But there’s no gas in the house and I don’t want to bother with propane – where to put those bulky tanks? It’s a Kenmore with a radiant glass cooktop, black, no beauty and $1,100 by the time all is said and done.

IMG_0546

Randall Rosenthal, a well-known artist who lives across the road, painted my porch ceiling, I'm told

Randall Rosenthal, a well-known artist who lives across the road, painted my porch ceiling, I'm told

Note the rhododendrons, not the condition of the roof

Note the rhododendrons, not the condition of the roof