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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Love The Smell of Spray Paint In The Morning

Pssstt. . . Wanna buy a beach house?

Yes, we are selling the family beach house
on eastern Long Island's North Fork.  

And you know what that means: it's all hands on deck to make 
a family-friendly house look as if no one lives there, or ever did.

Weekend before last, we 4 siblings and our spouses 
gathered and cleared out any remaining stuff.

We eight are rarely all in one place at the same time, as we are 
scattered along the East Coast, and it was great to be together.

Selling this property, which our parents bought in 1969, isn't easy.
But sometimes you have to do what's practical and logical.
That's just how things are.

This past holiday weekend, Howard and I were joined by
my sister Peggy and her husband Bill, as we set the stage for selling.  
Goodbye old porcelain knobs, hello brushed nickel.  A new look for the kitchen cabinets.

Staging a house for sale is a strange process.
You erase most of what made that house a real home.

Gone are the photographs, the mementos, the little cards tucked
into picture frames, the worn or threadbare towels and bedding,
the mismatched china and gas station drinking glasses,
and all the quirky, bizarre stuff that every family acquires over time.

Enter, Pottery Barn.
You get as close as you can to a generic, pared-down, 
won't-offend-anyone style. This is just good common sense; 
the house looks fresh, and pretty, and anonymous.
 Prospective buyers can visualize their own worn out junk in the rooms.

Now, what is Howard doing on the floor with sharp pointy things?

This heron knows what's going on.

 "Look Ma!  I'm a padded headboard!"

Having neither artwork nor a headboard for the master bedroom,
we brought out plywood, spray adhesive, batting,
fabric, and (of course) staple guns.  Ta-da!
It bothers me that the heads of the upper birds are "cut off"
because I had to wrap the fabric to the back, and their little
birdy heads were too close to the selvedge.  Gotta fix this.

I added a heavy white cotton matelasse bed cover, extra pillows,
and silky-smooth high thread count sheets in a deep sandy tan.
I need to add lamps, and tweak this room, but it's getting there.
(All bedding borrowed from guest rooms at That Old House,
so don't come visit us till the beach house is sold!)

Up until Monday morning, the bedside tables were dark mahogany.  
2-1/2 coats of Rustoleum's 2X spray paint in semi-gloss white,
much of which is lining my lungs, and they are transformed.
The nightstands that had been there were in fine condition, but very dated in that old 60s colonial
style.  These now-white tables are less of a dark solid presence, more airy and light.

I did not get pictures of all the rooms.  (You're welcome.)

Two twin beds, both wearing vintage cotton matelasse coverlets 
that I got at auctions; one from eBay, one at a house auction.

Simple and sweet.
Can't you see two little kids cozying in to sleep in this room?

Across the hall, what used to be called the crib room 
no longer has a crib, but it has a new bed, and like all the guest rooms
at the beach house it has an empty chest of drawers, an empty closet,
and a chair so you don't have to sit on the bed to tug on your socks!
The cotton cover on that fresh-washed comforter is
too wrinkly, so I'll replace it with another one
from TOH next weekend.  Hey, it's a process.

This room, the former sewing room, is looking a bit sad.
I brought a king size coverlet by mistake.
Have you ever put a king size spread on a twin size bed?
It is hi-larry-us.  And, it does not work.
This room has a fabulous view across Corey Creek
and Laughing Waters, out to Peconic Bay..
No shabby bedding can take that away from it!

At the front of the house, on the second floor, there's a family room.
We cleared out any extra furniture, hung a big vintage nautical chart,
my comedian husband "staged" 3 decoys having a pow-wow
on the coffee table . . .

and we arranged a simple tablescape in the corner
by the stairs to the loft, 

and hung a small painting as part of the vignette.

Very simple and plain, no frills up here!
The view is the star on this level of the house.

Well, that's enough for today's tour!
Anne and I will be out to Southold this coming weekend,
to finish the last of the prep, and get this show on the road.

Thank you, Mom and Pop, for providing this wonderful refuge
for our family for so many years.  I'm especially grateful that our
daughters got to know what it's like to live at the shore, tuned in
to nature's rhythms and magic; there's no place more wondrous.
-- Cass

Link Parties!
Yes, it is not Monday, but I didn't have computer access yesterday, so I get a Do-Over!
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch is the brains behind Metamorphosis Monday.  Here!
. . . and because it is actually Tuesday . . .
Marty at A Stroll Thru Life has Inspire Me Tuesday to motivate us!  Here.


  1. It is very bittersweet, Cass. We did the very same thing a few years ago. I still have a bit of ache in my heart that MY grandchildren will never know the unmitigated joy of just BEING-of escaping from the "real world". xo Diana

  2. I guess I am not like most people. I like to see the odds and ends of people's lives in a house. Maybe I'm just nosy. I like to think of myself as a sociologist.

    It's sad to sell a family home. I had to sell my great-grandparents' home where they had lived for over 50 years and where I had grown up. I don't regret it, but often wish I could just go back for a visit.

  3. It is probably bittersweet for all of you. At least you and your family will have the memories of vacations, family gathering, etc. that took place there.

  4. Cass, so wonderful that your parents enabled you all to have such lasting, wonderful memories...nothing will ever take those away. Im not sure about this house staging thing either, surely most of us have the imagination to see how we would live in a place. Puts me off ever trying to sell our house!I love seeing how other people 'live' in a house. Love to you all xxxx

  5. What wonderful memories you have of this great house. I know it's sad but time moves on... Looks like the house is really coming together and I am sure it will sell quickly.

  6. have made it too beautiful even for me to leave. sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    You must have your reasons though.
    Someone is going to be veryyyyyyyyyyyyy happy with this purchase.

  7. It's a time of life, isn't it? A little sadness, lots of laughter as you work, and a lifetime of memories.
    Your hard work will pay off in a QUICK sale!

  8. That's sad that you all have decided to give up the beach house Cass. You will all have wonderful memories of your times there to keep in your hearts. Hopefully another young family will purchase it to make their own memories.

  9. Cass, I know it must be hard to put it up for sale. The headboard turned out beautifully! What a fun piece for a beach house! I bet it will sell quickly...such a nice location! XO

  10. Perfect weather this weekend for lookers! It looks like a great house, I Love Southold! We were over yesterday to buy some mums. Don't stress too much about fixing, they are buying the view! Most of the people who buy here end up knocking it down anyway. We did!

    Good luck with it, I know it isn't easy! But you have the Jersey Shore! As long as I am near a beach!

  11. Hi Cass,
    My Mom and Dad signed the cottage over to me and my brothers more than twenty years ago. Two brothers signed off because they never used it. Now my brother and I share it. Our daughter and her boyfriend spent six weeks there cleaning up the landscape and beach and getting it ready for the next generation. We have thought of selling it but just haven't been able to let go yet. Our first grandchild arrives next month. Now I am glad that we haven't sold it. I am looking forward to lazy, hazy sultry summer days by the river with grandkids splashing in the water and catching frogs.
    Thanks for sharing your story and pics.
    Kind regards, Laura in Ontario Canada.


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