Amagansett Flipper: Before & After

H10985AN ITEM ON CURBED HAMPTONS, the real estate gossip site that is the Brownstoner of the East End, caught my attention this week: a 4BR, 4 bath Amagansett house on 3/4 acre, newly on the market for $2.2 million. It looks attractive enough, with its French doors and patio, but it would not have drawn my scrutiny if the address hadn’t sounded familiar: 1 Cranberry Hole Road, near the intersection of the new and old Montauk Highways — rather too close to the intersection if you ask me <sniff>, but set well back from the road.

I remember well the long driveway, because I went to a yard sale there when I first bought my house a few miles away in ’09. Back then, the house looked like this:


The interior was dark and dreary, and I recall stressed but kind people dealing with overflowing boxes of videotapes and other junk, who gave me a rusted wrought iron bench which now sits on my front deck. I offered a few bucks, but they insisted on giving it to me, so eager were they to get rid of things. That’s why I remember the house at all.

At the time, I most definitely did not think, “Ooh, I’d love to buy this place, fix it up, and flip it for 2 million dollars!” But Katie Brown did, and did, paying $500,000 for it in March 2010, banging out a reno in a mere 15 months, and putting it right back on the market. That’s why she’s Katie Brown.

Katie Brown is a “lifestyle expert” and TV personality, a smaller-scale Martha Stewart, with long-running cooking and decorating shows that have been on Lifetime, A&E, and PBS (I’ve never seen them — as with Oprah, I know her career only through print media), several books, and a line of bedding and bath linen for Meijer, a chain of Midwest department stores. With her husband, William Corbin, a digital media exec, she’s renovated several houses on the cheap and a shade too trendily, including a Brooklyn brownstone, which I’m guessing is their primary residence; a Berkshires cabin that was written up in The New York Times; and another couple of places in the Hamptons which have been covered in sadly now-defunct decorating magazines.

Whether they originally bought the Amagansett house as a flipper is unclear. I’m guessing that was always the intention. In Katie’s own blog from the early spring of 2010, she called it a “weekend retreat” — but apparently not for her own family.

This is how I remember the house looking from the yard sale (these pictures are from Katie’s blog, with temporary furnishings– you can now see the dining table and chairs outdoors on the patio in the current real estate listing):



Here’s what Katie saw in the c.1980 ugly duckling: “Although its grey exterior might appear to be a little drab, I think its what lies inside that matters most. Decades of history embedded in dated wallpaper, beautiful wood paneling in the main living room, sliding doors galore, and a backyard that looks like extends to the depths of eastern Long Island. As the weeks progress I plan on remodeling the entire house, and transforming this place into a summer retreat.”

This is the newly whitewashed, vastly improved main living space as styled for sale:


The enterprising couple hit all the Hamptons real-estate tropes with their reno.

Set down a long private driveway…a chef’s gourmet kitchen with serious appliances…open living room, beamed ceilings with a fireplace… surrounded by French doors… garden courtyard…charming outbuildings, one an art studio…heated gunite pool… lush lawn….

Well, really, what could be bad, when you put it that way?

Former master bedroom, below


New master


Kitchen before


Kitchen after. I just have to go on record saying I don’t like the kitchen at all. Shiny black tiles combined with rustic wood? No! And the placement of the refrigerator looks plain wrong.



New dining room, below. I recognize the farmhouse table and graphic poster from another house.


New bath


Do I sound a little sour grapes? I don’t mean to. I’m full of admiration for clever, energetic, talented people who don’t give a damn about the received wisdom that ‘it’s not a good time’ in the real estate market, and hope they make a tidy sum.

What’s a Hamptons house without a pergola?


I just wonder whether they know anymore: What is real life and what is staging?

12 thoughts on “Amagansett Flipper: Before & After

  1. I think they did a great job. I bought a weekend house about the same time and .. ugh, I’m not this far.

    What do you mean real life vs staging? This looks very “katie brown” to me.

  2. I mean, do they ever actually live anywhere, or is it always with an eye to flipping, eventually re-selling, creating a TV studio (as one of the previous Hamptons houses was), etc. Everything she does is very staged and styled. Which is all fine! More power to them.

  3. Wow what an eye, to have that kind of vision!! I truly wish I did!

    Art by Karena

    I have a New very fashionable Giveaway on my site!

  4. They live in Carroll Gardens. They’ve lived there for maybe 5 or 6 years or so. I’m sure they renovated with an eye to re-selling, but who doesn’t?

  5. Hi! I recently found your blog when trying to find out what a “trinity house” was during my Philly apartment hunt.

    Anyway, I completely agree on that kitchen tile; it’s kind of unfortunate, and not helped by the fact that it makes that non-built in (I’m assuming based on the wheels) peninsula even more cut off from the kitchen than it already is. Something more neutral would have worked better, I think.

  6. Agreed on the tile, and not a fan of jamming that $7K double oven into the corner. Just no flow to the workspace in the kitchen. I guess in theory they got the fridge/range/sink triangle – albeit a tight one – but all your dry goods are on the other side. Amateurish.

    But lots to like about the rest of the place.

  7. I watched Katie Brown on PBS recently and was not impressed with her craft projects. Seemed a bit “wonky”! So, I would hesitate to purchase anything with her stamp on it thinking that it was poorly done. Just my opinion.

    However, I do love your blog and appreciate your continuing with it.

  8. FWIW, while they may still live in Carroll Gardens, they sold the brownstone that they renovated. It went for around 3.2 million, I believe. I remember being surprised to see the listing when it hit the market because I had just read a sweet article in Traditional Home (one of the few shelter mag survivors!) about the renovation and how it was their lovely family home. She renovated it in a mere four months! If only my own renovation could be so brief!

  9. Thanks, Anon. That’s exactly what I meant when I suggested Katie Brown (and her editors) are perhaps just a teeny tad disingenuous. ALL their projects appear in print as their beloved family homes, and then BOOM — they’re on the market after a lightning reno and they’re on to the next thing. Parlay all you want, folks, but don’t expect us to believe you’re nesting when you’re flipping. That’s all.

Got something to say? Please say it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s