Hamptons Reno: One Month In


A MONTH INTO MY OWNERSHIP of a mid-20th century house needing much TLC on the East End of Long Island, a reader emails to say: “I’m loving your blog posts about your beach house…it is looking much better! You may not realize it, but seeing your posts definitely shows consistent progress.” I’m so glad it looks that way from afar. From anear, things are not moving as fast as I’d like.

Never mind window locks, which is where I left off in my last post. I’m not up to that yet. I ordered a single casement fastener to try before committing myself to two dozen, and it hasn’t arrived yet. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some online shopping, for a “neo-angle” shower rod and a window screen. Again, just a single sample as a try-out, from screenitagain.com, associated with Lowes. If this works, it could be a very good thing: each custom-made screen (approximately 29″h x 36″w — though you need to send measurements to the 1/16″, and I’ve discovered each window is different), with a basic wood frame and plastic mesh screen, plus two spring tension fasteners and a tab at the bottom, is about $36. An upgrade to the ‘clearer view’ material adds about $20 per, so we’ll see.


Did some yard-saling over the weekend, and wouldn’t ya know… A few days after my Tanger Mall sojourn, where I bought new retro fixtures at the Restoration Hardware and West Elm outlets for the dining room and kitchen, I found the genuine articles right here in East Hampton for a pittance. Above, a green metal shade of the type I originally had in mind, an  unusual rounded variation on the typical shape: $10. Naturally I grabbed it, though I’m not sure for where.


At the same sale, I picked up a pair of vintage white glass globes, above, very Sixties, very Pop, perfect for the great room, below, though perhaps a bit too small in scale for the height of the ceiling (the globes are about 12″ across). They were $20 apiece. A friend suggested hanging them together at different heights, which would be fun. These finds only fueled my determination to hunt bargains, of which more in my next post.


What else? I have a whole new room, a whole new building, to think about. On Friday, the previous owner came, as agreed, and cleared out the shed, below — a onetime pool house, now to be… well, I’m not sure what. Garden shed, guest cottage, writing studio, workshop? My goal is to keep it from becoming a storage unit, though that is an ongoing temptation in the absence of a garage or basement.


And thanks to a visit from Eric the arborist, I can now see the forest for the trees. There are more than just oaks here — there are hickories, red maples, and sassafrass, as well as dogwood, wild cherry, and barberry. We’re starting nearest the house on trees that are in imminent danger of losing limbs. Eric is conservative; there are only a few he slated for outright removal. On most, he’ll just “lighten the load,” cleaning them up and pruning out deadwood. I trust him implicitly. At my former home, he eventually removed about eight huge oaks, and the more he took away, the better I liked it.

The saplings are still going to be my problem. It makes sense to pay Eric to climb 100 feet up, but not to take down 5-foot trees with 2″ trunks, of which there are hundreds. That’s something I can handle with a lopper, if only I could decide what to lop. I’ll enjoy watching them leaf out, and figure it out later.

Do you have the patience to wait 
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving 
till the right action arises by itself? asked Lao Tzu in the fifth century B.C.

It’s a tall order for one of my temperament, but I’m trying.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in HAMPTONS, LONG ISLAND, RENOVATION and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Hamptons Reno: One Month In

  1. Mary-Liz says:

    Love the Lao Tzu!! Good luck with that! Your friend is right, slowly but surely you are making visible progress!

  2. I love watching the renovations, keep them coming!

  3. jetsetmodern says:

    Nice progress! Especially refreshing to see the pool room which I think would make an awesome guest room/writing room. I could see myself living there a while, but don’t worry…. I have my own house and acre to maintain and a job to work to support it! Have fun with your house!

  4. Julia Mack says:

    Wow–those are crazy window issues and measuring each to 1/16th of an inch is insane. Isn’t there someone that builds screens onsite? A crafty and enterprising person could be very well employed.

  5. cara says:

    Yes, I have such a person, and his price was a whole lot more than Lowe’s.

  6. cara says:

    Oh, do come live there for a while! I could use a handy guy like yourself on- site;-)

  7. Ellen ONEILL says:

    For random lighting surprises Try Sage St Antiques Sag Harbor before u trudge to Tanger Go rogue

    Sent from my iPhone

  8. caren sturmer says:

    Good advice – wait for yer mud to settle!

  9. Am so enjoying reading about your home renovation.

  10. Just cleaning that little cottage out made a huge difference.

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