On a sweltering summer day with temperatures soaring well into the 90s and local weather reports of a heat wave, Jovon Tomaselli sits in his library enjoying the views of his majestic gardens. On days like this, he does not mind very much at all that he doesn’t have central air-conditioning.
“The house is made from brick and plaster, they didn’t use sheetrock back then,” laughs Tomaselli. “We have window units. The house keeps everything cool.”
An old-fashioned way of living for some, but for Tomaselli and his wife, Sanam, that’s all part of the charm when you are living in a historic mansion that dates back to 1888.
The home that was once the estate of John Coles Tappan, a prominent business leader has been a labor of love for the couple, who share an appreciation for old-world style. For the last few years, they have spent time restoring the home’s integrity while adding their own personal touches along the way.
“I love that time that takes us way back,” says Sanam. “We have preserved the whole look of the house because you cannot find houses like this anymore. We really wanted to make this house a home.”
And so they did.
Each level of the four-story Victorian Colonial set on 1.5 acres features a different aesthetic with ceilings that soar 12 feet high and architectural details that for many homes on Long Island are now a thing of the past. The main floor boasts a formal living room, gourmet-style kitchen with the original pantry, a billiards room, library and dining room, aka the “tea room,” or “the ladies parlor,” as Sanam calls it.
There’s also an outdoor patio and music room filled with antiques, including an original telephone booth and birdcage. Three bedrooms and a master suite are located on the upper level. The third story features an attic with three additional rooms used for storage and a full basement that Jovon explains “is as long as the house, 100 feet.”
Most of the renovations were done on the home’s interior, says Jovon. That included securing the foundation, restoring the outdoor porches, replacing some of the windows and updating the kitchen with modern amenities.
The gardens are so spectacular that Jovon, a professional photographer, remembers the days when they were often used as a backdrop for photo shoots.
“In 2004, we took more than 300 family portraits here,” he says. “It was before the digital era.”
It is still a tranquil place that brings great enjoyment to the couple.
“It’s really a beautiful haven for us,” says Jovon. “We like to sit outside on the patio and listen to music and look at the pond. It’s our meditation.”
Sanam, who works as a banker, describes her style as eclectic. An admirer of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, she draws inspiration from them and the beauty that surrounds her.
“I love the color yellow,” she says. “I love butterflies. I love rabbits, and I love sunflowers.”
A collector too — she and Jovon enjoy collecting teacups and picking up souvenirs from their travels to display — doesn’t take herself too seriously.
“I don’t follow the rules,” she points out. “I break the rules nicely.”