Tammy Scileppi


What Sheltering in Place Taught Us About Home Design

Balancing telecommuting and remote learning requires reimagining home design. (Getty Images)

Shelter has taken on a whole new meaning as everyday life evolves into a different normal, with changing expectations for what one’s home can and should be.

So, what has sheltering in place taught us and how has it transformed our personal spaces? As folks started seeing their dwellings in a different light, lessons were learned along the way about the power of resourcefulness and creativity through DIY projects on a budget, using space more efficiently, the importance of bringing the outdoors in, and more.

“Home became a necessary refuge,” says Jennifer Lock Oman, LISW, BCD, a Des Moines-based psychotherapist with more than 30 years of experience. “The spotlight has also turned to home in terms of functionality and design.”

A Zillow survey found that after spending more time stuck at home, one of the top reasons for considering a move is to get a place with more rooms. And, as people continue to work from home and start online schooling, more private spaces will be needed.

“Rooms have been repurposed,” Oman says. “I hear about a lot of people finishing basements or repainting rooms to create added space or a much-needed sense of comfort and coziness. Putting energy into being home-focused in this way also provides some sense of well-being and agency where there is little of those feelings to be found in the greater world right now.”

Designers and architects have been busy rethinking (pandemic-driven) home design and coming up with great ideas and solutions.

“With so much uncertainty, the importance of home as one constant has heightened,” Oman adds. “When the world feels overwhelming, retreating to what we know is a basic instinct, not just a COVID-mandated necessity.”


Think fluid and multifunctional spaces. Living rooms that transition into work, study, play, exercise/yoga areas or ”stations” for busy families; changes to the “home office” idea, i.e. mudrooms that serve as a temporary office space; adding/upgrading guest bedrooms. Flexibility is key in limited quarters, so a dining room table can become a workspace with flexible partitions.

“While open floor plans soared in popularity in the last few decades, there’s a lack of privacy that comes with these open spaces, and sheltering at home emphasized for many a loss of quiet spaces to work, reflect, and take a break from the chaos of life,” says Haley Johnson, communications coordinator of the real estate and rental marketplace Zillow. 


While New York City apartment dwellers yearned for design elements that merged indoor with outdoor living, i.e.  sunrooms, rooftop terraces/gardens, lots of greenery, Long Island homeowners turned patios and backyards into tranquil sanctuaries.

“This pandemic serves to remind us how important our houses are to our daily well-being,” Vicki Yuan, associate at Lake|Flato Architects, told design and architecture platform Dwell.com. “We delight in natural daylighting, quality materials, healthy indoor air quality, and access to livable outdoor spaces. In many ways, this analog moment is a return to simple living, and in designing future homes, we will think more about what is essential to the experience of how we want to live.”


Thoughtful design and retrofitting homes with technology offer new ways to conserve energy with projects that incorporate solar panels, battery-charging stations, and air filtration systems.

“As the pandemic emphasized the need to keep our homes as clean and germ free as possible, smart home features like touchless faucets, bidets, and self-cleaning toilets will start to become increasingly popular to help maintain a safe and healthy home,” Johnson says.

“Life will be much different on the other side of this,” says Oman. “But a definite constant will be the value most of us place on ‘home’ and what that means both practically and emotionally.”

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Home Spaces Reimagined Due To Pandemic

Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings.

When people have lots of time on their hands, they tend to get creative. 

That has certainly been true during the pandemic when DIY projects have become super popular, with home improvement stores seeing a boost in sales. Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings. 

Working from home and remote learning have meant that families have had to create dedicated spaces in a jiffy, while some parents have been busy repurposing rooms, attics, and basements for their grown kids, who were suddenly leaving college dorms and city pads and moving back home. 

According to a recent survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. homeowners on Houzz, 70 percent reported reported they were thinking about making changes that could help them enjoy their homes more. Outdoor, bathroom, and kitchen projects topped the wish list.

Here’s what design pros have been doing to help homeowners out during the pandemic. 


Haley Johnson, communications coordinator at real estate marketplace Zillow, points out that the pandemic emphasized the importance of keeping germs away from the main spaces of your home. 

“Consider upgrading your bathroom or kitchen with a touchless faucet to limit the amount of areas your family and guests are touching,” she suggests. “Plus, a nice, new faucet can add style to a bathroom or kitchen alike.”

Builders are also considering how coronavirus will drive building decisions in the future. 

“Staying at home emphasized there were not enough quiet spaces to work, and we might start to see the once-popular open floor plans change in favor of more privacy, adding in more doors to separate rooms,” she explains. “As people are working from home now, there needs to be space to accommodate. However, you can also have the best of both worlds by adding barn door features to give yourself privacy when needed, while still preserving the open-concept space.”


During quarantine, folks craved spending time outdoors and quickly learned how to transform any backyard or patio space, no matter how small or boring, into a lovely oasis. And now, it’s a hot trend. 

“It’s no surprise outdoor space is the top reason people would consider a move due to social distancing recommendations,” Haley says. “Spend this time sprucing up your yard by landscaping, adding a firepit, and overall making your outdoor spaces a cozy getaway you can enjoy safely.”

Design pros Jen Fox and Tonia Omeltchenko of LI-based Fox + Chenko touted some recent “pandemic-friendly” projects that have made a huge difference in their clients’ lives. In one, a multi-seasonal, screened outdoor living space with direct access to the backyard added sizable square footage to a family’s Port Washington residence. 

Careful space planning and selection of all-weather performance furnishings and lighting created both lounging and dining zones. In chillier months, heat from the natural stone gas fireplace will warm the room, while in nicer weather, framed screen windows and an oversized driftwood ceiling fan allow for ultimate cooling and airflow.  

A combination of pendant and sconce light fixtures adds style and function. Tall outdoor lanterns, patterned decorative pillows, a colorful textured area rug, and lush greenery add a relaxed ambiance to this nature-inspired refuge.


In another project, a new home office doubles as a guest room for a client in Great Neck.

“Not only does the user need a proper space for a laptop and cell phone, but other factors, like how quiet the area is for a phone call, how well-positioned the space is to WiFi, or what the background for a Zoom call is, has to be considered,” says Omeltchenko.

“The desk area has to be organized and have storage space,” she adds. “The bed – usually a pullout sofa – should have a comfortable mattress and be easy to operate.”

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17th Century Nissequogue Colonial Built For Smithtown Founder’s Grandson Asks $2.4M

You can’t judge a book by its cover, or for that matter, an intriguing waterfront country house wrapped in layers of history, that can use a good dose of TLC.

In the market for a slice of old-world Americana? Look no further than this rare colonial charmer, which started out as a homestead back in the 17th century and embodies more than five generations of close-knit family ownership at 30 Smith Lane in Nissequogue. For passionate historic home lovers, it’s a rare opportunity to put your stamp on a beautiful estate near the edge of Stony Brook Harbor. 

“The home is on 19 waterfront acres [embellished with ancient specimen plantings] in the tranquil Village of Nissequogue,” notes listing agent Mickey Conlon of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. 

“Originally built in 1687 for Ebenezer Smith, the grandson of Smithtown’s patentee Richard ‘Bull’ Smith, the home has been in the Smith family for over 300 years, only briefly changing hands when the Dixons [Mr. and Mrs. William H. Dixon] purchased the house in 1924 and engaged architect Archibald Brown to supervise its renovation,” Conlon adds. “It returned to the Smith family in 1970 when Malcolm E. Smith Jr. purchased the estate back from the Dixon family.”

The house and property are being sold for $2,495,000 by the estate of Malcolm E. Smith Jr., who was a direct descendant of Smithtown’s founder, serving as trustee of the Village of Nissequogue, and later as its mayor. 

As Ebenezer’s family grew, his dad, Richard Smith II, expanded the original homestead and added a larger dwelling sometime between 1712 and 1742, according to Colonel Rockwell’s Scra-pbook.  

“It was an example of architectural progression in this burgeoning community, whose homes still lacked flourishes such as dormers and welcoming porches,” writes Kyle Marshall in his new book Americana: Farmhouses and Manors of Long Island. “Within a few decades the main section was again expanded to a full five-bay length, bookended by the original chimney stack and a new eastern chimney.”

During the 19th century, a wraparound porch provided a wonderful spot to take in views of the shimmering bay. All else stayed the same until the house was purchased by Dixon, who sought a smart Long Island farmhouse which would echo the style of the island’s colonial-era homestead houses, favoring gentility and economy in equal measure, according to the book.

“He commissioned Peabody, Wilson & Brown to discreetly insert modern conveniences and light Colonial Revival flourishes. The involvement of practicing architects, rather than talented builders or gentlemen designers, was a fairly new phenomenon on the island,” Marshall writes, noting that the home’s simplicity and atmosphere guided the architects, who preserved much of the dining room paneling and created a new sitting room while keeping the unusual, charming staircase in the center hall. And the exterior received a full Colonial Revival touch-up; fashionable and practical dormer windows were also added, he continues.

The house is notable for the mellow pine wainscoting and a built-in cupboard with sunburst carving in its domed interior as well as for its romantic location overlooking the harbor, with a distant view of Long Island Sound and the property’s beautiful box bushes and well-kept lawns, according to Colonel Rockwell’s Scrap-book.

Surprisingly, many of the original details have remained intact, including the great fireplace that was the heart of the oldest part of the house, the dining room paneling, and the hearth and bread oven original to the 1687 structure, one of five working fireplaces, according to Conlon. He points out that the home needs a full restoration.

Picture this: At one time, its cozy rooms where families lived and gathered exuded comfort, warmth, and familiarity. Imagine all the antique bric-a-brac on display, those family heirlooms, and practical period furnishings.  

“Its last major renovation was in 1924, and the bathrooms from that period remain, though other upgrades to the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems have been made since,” Conlon says, adding, “The exterior is shingled with period shutters and a cedar shake roof.”

The Tom Postilio & Mickey Conlon Team agree that this special, 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom home — which isn’t far from the main drag — is a true find.

“Nissequogue and its sister village, Head of the Harbor, are conveniently located near the quaint hamlet of St. James, where a variety of charming boutiques and superb restaurants are frequented by locals and visitors alike,” Conlon notes. “More mainstream shopping options are available nearby in Smithtown, and the Smith Haven Mall is only a couple of miles outside of town.”

Recreational attractions include the Nissequogue Golf Club, Silver Oak Stable, and St. James General Store. Long Island Macarthur is the closest airport.

“A long road runs through a dense woods, heightening the moment when a small rise opens up to fields and lawn that cascade down to the beach and bay beyond,” Marshall writes. “A graveled lane rolls down this landscape and passes a scattered village of barns, garages and stables before quickly ending in front of the house.” 

Like a great work of art and its noteworthy provenance, the home’s value is greatly enhanced due to its historical significance.

And, with a bit of imagination and hard work, a maverick, design-savvy homeowner with a vision can gradually transform this old house into an inviting showplace, while creating their own family’s legacy.

For more information, contact The Tom Postilio & Mickey Conlon Team – Licensed Associate Real Estate Brokers of Douglas Elliman Real Estate at 212-350-8008, 212-350-8009, 917-224-7177, or 917-543-0005.

How To Integrate The Kiddos Into Grown-up Spaces

Well-lit, wide-open spaces with book shelves and blankets stored in baskets are among some family-friendly interior design ideas. (Getty Images)

It’s a magical time filled with joys and new challenges.

While making happy memories in a new house that may become a growing family’s home, many savvy homeowners are thinking ahead and creating kid-friendly spaces by mixing grown-up design elements with playful additions — but keeping safety in mind. 

“Think five senses — sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste — when you want to create a home that’s inviting and kid friendly,” says Deborah Serani, a Smithtown-based psychologist, award-winning author, and senior professor at Adelphi University. “Using colors, textures and mindful design can invite well-being in the home that will continue for decades.”


Keep it airy and bright. Install an indestructible floor, use easy-to-clean semigloss paint on walls, and think transitional for a growing family’s changing needs.

Local design pros Mary Middlemiss and Nancy LaCalamita of Twice As Nice Interiors made their client’s family room dreams come true. 

“The current space was a cement basement, so we needed to get very creative and keep it fun, and the parents stress free,” says Middlemiss. Sectioning off concept areas added tons of color and a vibrant, fiber-sealed area rug.  “Everything is kid friendly.”

The furniture was fabricated in super-durable, tot- and pet-friendly Crypton fabrics. One section is a stylish room divider that floated from the ceiling and added privacy. This became the art studio/craft area with homework stations. Down the center, they placed a multifunctional gaming table and added pop art portraits of the children to make it feel like it was their own personal space. 

“Our basement is the kids’ favorite area,” says the client, Lisa Farhat of Syosset. “We have a great movie area, an art studio, small gym, bathroom, fantastic laundry room, and plenty of storage. We even have an area for a popcorn machine and mini-fridge.” 


“Painting walls with light jewel-tone hues creates feelings of warmth and comfort,” Serani says. “So does adding a pop of color throughout with sturdy, textured pillows, patterned and easily cleaned throw rugs, framed kid-made pictures, or playful wall décor.”

Be mindful of the flow, creating open space for easy living.

“Studies tell us that clutter-free environments enhance creativity, deepen relaxation, lower blood pressure, and improve well-being,” Serani continues. “Also, light is vital for a healthy home, so bring it in. Choose lightbulbs that aren’t fluorescent, as their harsh light can cause irritability.”

Serani also notes that studies on well-being and design say that having lots of sunlight enhances one’s mental and physical well-being, as does aromatherapy.

 “Choose kid-safe essential oils and diffusers,” she adds, noting that citrus, lavender, vanilla, and cinnamon are very soothing. But candles, stick diffusers, and potpourri aren’t safe for tots.


Having a designated playroom is ideal for many families, but when it’s not feasible, parents can create safe play spaces in any area of their home by providing open shelving at their little ones’ heights, says certified school psychologist Jacalyn Bruno, Psy.D., owner of Blue Point-based Child Psychology of Long Island.

“When creating a bedroom for your little ones, make the space safe for them to explore on their own, freely and independently, so you can feel comfortable stepping away for a few moments,” Bruno suggests.

She notes that when everything is within a child’s reach — so there’s no reason for them to attempt to climb or stand on furniture — they will begin to learn responsibility and independence at a very young age. 

Consider a “floor bed,” kid-sized chairs, plastic containers, or colorful play rugs. 

“Have plenty of bookshelves in different areas, sending the message that reading is important,” says Meri Wallace, child and family therapist, Psychology Today blogger, and author of Birth Order Blues and Keys to Parenting Your Four-Year-Old.


Childproof your home early on. Lock doors and cabinets, use baby gates, fence off the pool, and secure TVs and unstable furniture to walls.

“This gives your child the message that curiosity and exploration are acceptable in your home, but they must be done in a safe way,” says Wallace. 

She suggests involving children in decorating their room. It helps them feel responsible and connected to the home. 

Now it’s time to enjoy these spaces that the whole family will love. 

The Beacon at Garvies Point Offers Resort-style Living

An extension of their homes: Residents and guests can enjoy beautifully appointed, welcoming common areas designed by Safavieh.

At The Beacon at Garvies Point, a new luxury community being built in Glen Cove, it’s all about location, location, location.

The community’s developers, Uniondale-based RXR Realty, recently took the Press on a tour of the newly finished units.

“The Beacon at Garvies Point, a resort-style neighborhood in Glen Cove, offers potential buyers the opportunity to live a carefree lifestyle,” says Joseph Graziose, executive vice president of residential development and construction at RXR.

The born-and-bred Glen Cove resident has been a passionate revitalization advocate, and says he’s excited about the city’s transformation.

Conveniently located an hour from Manhattan and the Hamptons and nestled within 56 waterfront acres with sweeping views, The Beacon at Garvies Point boasts 167 LEED-certified, one-, two-, and three-bedroom luxury condominiums, and is the first phase of RXR’s massive development.

“RXR’s total investment in Glen Cove — through the Garvies Point and [downtown] Village Square project — will top over $1 billion,” Graziose says. “From the residential buildings, Harbor Landing (luxury rentals) and The Beacon, the project is bringing together a professional workforce with a commercial and retail component that will enhance the surrounding North Shore communities as well as revitalize Glen Cove’s waterfront. It’s been a labor of love.”

The Beacon’s residents have access to a variety of wonderful outdoor spaces, including courtyard terraces, rooftop terraces at the penthouse level, and outdoor balconies for nearly every home. And there’s private parking.

Another comfy, relaxing spot. This unique library is perfect for reading or meditating.

Units are priced from $700,000 to $3 million.

Experience all that Garvies Point has to offer and enjoy Long Island’s biggest playground with 28 acres of green space, sunset views, and easy access to open waters. Other draws: A one-mile waterfront esplanade with outdoor seating; connectivity to Garvies Point Preserve: a 62-acre wooded nature preserve that offers miles of trails and bike paths, as well as playgrounds, parks, a dog park, boardwalk and beach. And there’s more: an outdoor amphitheater, ecology pier, a platform for arts & entertainment, plus space for Glen Cove community events. Also, great schools and golf courses.

Lucky residents always get what they want and need at The Beacon, say the developers, thanks to a cornucopia of amazing amenities that guests can enjoy as well. That includes a lounge, library, club room, game room, screening room, 24-hour fitness center, yoga room, seasonal outdoor heated swimming pool, 23 rooftop terraces, two outdoor kitchens equipped with Viking grills, fridges, and prep sinks, and direct access to a waterfront esplanade.

“Everything will be taken care of for you, and you get peace of mind with 24-hour security,” says Graziose.

A friendly doorman greets you as you enter an impressive wood and stone lobby leading to spacious, beautifully appointed and welcoming common areas that serve as an extension of your home, providing comfy spots for reading, relaxing, or entertaining guests. There’s even a private meeting room.

Expertly designed by Safavieh and echoing their fabulous décor throughout the three model units (also for sale), these unique spaces feature transitional-style, on-trend furnishings, as well as striking accessories and lighting further enhanced by eye-catching artwork.

These elements are reflected in The Beacon’s open layout units — of which 50 percent or so have been sold (buyers have started moving in) — and in the high-end finishes, such as marble floors and glass-enclosed showers with mosaic floors in the bathrooms and Italian-made Siena custom cabinetry with soft-close and drawers in the kitchens.

Entertain guests in yet another bright and airy gathering space.

“The open-plan gourmet kitchen is designed with chefs’ needs in mind, complete with custom-paneled GE Monogram appliances,” Graziose adds.

Other quality cucina features include durable and stylish Super White natural quartzite countertops, marble mosaic herringbone backsplashes, and oversized Kohler stainless steel sinks. Master bath highlights: soaking tubs, custom Siena wood double vanities, white marble countertops, Kohler undermount sinks, and high-gloss tile wet walls. Units have central A/C and gas stoves, and can offer smart technology.

The development also offers worry-free living with no need to keep up with the maintenance of a larger home, such as landscaping, snow shoveling, repairs, and pool cleaning. And there’s a 24-hour concierge.

Garvies Point’s proximity to the Long Island Rail Road’s Glen Cove station 1.5 miles away and access to Glen Cove’s Ferry Terminal and future ferry commuter service to Manhattan is another big plus. Also, it’s a stone’s throw from Village Square’s restaurants and shops.

“Purchasing at The Beacon is a great investment opportunity because of the lifestyle,” says Graziose. “Whether you are downsizing from a larger residence, to the empty nester whose kids have left the house, or a snowbird who has multiple residences, it is the perfect place to live, eat and play.”

The Beacon at Garvies Point will soon become the go-to waterfront destination for anyone looking for exciting activities and attractions close to home. Are you ready for some adventure?

To visit the sales gallery, visit thebeacongp.com or call 516-399-2301.

Open layouts, fabulous décor, and a view of the patio and pool.

Modernized Historic Oyster Bay Estate Offers Luxury Lifestyle

Imagine everyday life at Swan Cove, a fabulous Gold Coast estate fit for a duke and duchess, or a celeb such as former Yankees/Mets pitcher and current Yankees TV analyst David Cone, who once rented the resort-style residence before the current homeowners purchased it.

The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom single family colonial at 83 Cove Neck Road in Oyster Bay’s Cove Neck last changed hands 20-plus years ago. Envision 7-plus bucolic acres of gently sloping lawn and gardens that segue to a sandy beach at the water’s edge, unforgettable western sunsets, and stunning views courtesy of Oyster Bay Harbor. And lovers of water sports and leisure activities will surely appreciate the convenient access provided.

“There are so many special features to this exceptional property, including the waterfront and panoramic water views, the dock, legal three-plus bedroom, two-full bath rental cottage [with three-bay garage],” says listing agent Carol Cotton of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Locust Valley.

“The house itself is a marvel in that the two original structures have been seamlessly combined to create a warm, inviting home [renowned architect James Gamble Rogers directed alterations in 1924],” Cotton says. “The homeowners have thoroughly enjoyed sharing this property with their family and friends and look forward to having the next owners create their own memories.”

During a renovation in 1998, the current owners restored many of the original details that add to the character and are a reminder of the origins of the house. The reno included all new baths, kitchen, and mechanical systems, among other upgrades.

Another great selling point: the home’s proximity to the Village of Cove Neck, where there’s no shortage of fine dining and shopping, access to cultural venues, and more. And, it’s only 40 miles from Manhattan. 

This lavish lifestyle can be yours for just $5,495,000. 


Cove Neck is the site of President Theodore Roosevelt’s home. His estate, Sagamore Hill, is a popular museum and national park.

Built in 1949, Swan Cove was originally part of the Smith Farm and constructed as a farmhouse and barn in 1829, says the homeowner, describing it as a wonderful mix of new and old. There’s a spacious living room boasting an original fireplace with vintage mantel and moldings opposite stunning harbor views, a paneled library/office with a fireplace, and an amazing spa bathroom featuring French doors that lead to a balcony with great views.

The home also has entertaining space that expands out to the great outdoors via five sets of French doors, revealing scenic marsh views from the bluestone porch and patio that wrap around the side and rear of the home, and lots more.


Elements such as the timeless architectural style, historical significance, and quality of construction and renovations, all contribute to the property’s value. 

According to the listing, a cedar shingle roof with a third level dormer sits atop the white-shingled façade. Leaded-glass lights frame the red front doorway and benches flank the welcoming centerpiece columned portico. Next to the inviting foyer with hardwood floors is a coat room and powder room leading to a wet bar area with fridge and ice maker, then into the downstairs library/TV room with another fireplace. 

Additional plusses include a deeded dock (village permits for two deep-water moorings may be obtained on an annual basis), a heated Gunite swimming pool, and adjacent cabin with utilities and pool house potential. 

Aside from its primo location, so many aspects of this 6,826-square-foot dwelling are worth celebrating.

Water views form a backdrop to the dining room’s focal point: a wall of floor-to-ceiling paned windows. More romantic French doors open to the patio dining area. Custom goodies include a family/TV room with built-in banquette adjacent to the chef’s kitchen with custom cabinetry/granite countertops. 

Top-of-the-line appliances include a six-burner gas range with grill and two dishwashers. The breakfast area is tucked into a wide bay with windows. In the kitchen is a wine fridge, pantry closet, and another Sub-Zero fridge/freezer. 

The foyer’s main staircase leads to the second floor, showcasing a luxurious master suite wing and beautifully appointed library, complete with book-lined walls of cherrywood cabinetry, fireplace, and high tray ceiling. There are five more bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Behold a spa master bathroom of Carrera marble with two sinks, heated floor, soaking tub, large steam shower and nice built-ins. 

The entire house can be powered by its own backup generator and has an irrigation system, multizone heating/central AC, landscape lighting, and sound system. 

While enhancing their beloved abode with a host of modern enhancements, the homeowners have always kept its roots in mind. 

For more information, contact Carol A. Cotton, Associate Real Estate Broker, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty at 516-359-7946 (cell) / 516-759-4800 x178 (office) or Barbara Candee, Associate Real Estate Broker: 516-456-0330 (cell)

How To Redesign Your Home With Zen in Mind

While many folks make New Year’s resolutions that revolve around getting a better bod, others choose to look inward and seek ways to find joy and inner peace through meditation and mindfulness.        

And experts agree that it’s important to de-stress after the holidays. 

“Take a deep, cleansing breath and re-experience the little things as you go through your day,” says former Buddhist monk-turned-psychotherapist and author Donald Altman, who, along with local design team Twice As Nice Interiors in East Islip, offer creative solutions toward achieving a Zen lifestyle and bringing that relaxed vibe into indoor and outdoor spaces.

Escape for a while and find tranquility at home by creating a peaceful sanctuary away from the concrete jungle of New York City. Infusing your surroundings with positive energy and calming, Zen-inspired design is easy… and therapeutic. 


“Creating a Zen environment either inside or outdoors should be first and foremost, clutter free,” says Twice As Nice Interiors owner Mary Middlemiss. “If creating a space outdoors, pathways lined in greenery and rocks leading up to a quiet space with a water feature are always good ideas. Adding a swing is an extra bonus! 

She offers guidelines while designing our interior spaces.

“Use colors that represent nature,” she says. “Keep it as natural as possible. Textiles that are light and soft are important. Natural light is key. 

“Keep furniture to a minimum but also consider using natural wood or stone products,” she continues. “Today’s furniture industry has changed so much, with too many products being produced in China with toxic chemicals and fibers. We are a green company and are very careful with our design selections.” 

She adds: “Lastly, we always encourage our clients to enhance your space with a natural oils scent through a diffuser to not only add freshness, but calm and balance.” 


Entrepreneur, hip-hop mogul, and best-selling author Russell Simmons believes the most fundamental key to success is meditation. His Manhattan townhouse – featured in HGTV’s episode about Zen-inspired homes – reflects his devotion to yoga and Eastern philosophies in its unique décor and design. Emmy® Award-winning actress Jaime Pressley’s home reveals Asian art and statues of Buddha set against neutral colors. In another episode, designer Genevieve Gorder transforms a boring backyard into a relaxing, Asian-style retreat.


Altman, who’s had years of clinical experience, says his approach with clients then, and with his books and workshops now, is simple.

To cultivate a more Zen approach at home or work, he suggests decorating with tranquil, pleasant, and meaningful objects.

“Objects from our past can have a calming effect and will help you get into the present moment,” he explains. “Photos of loved ones, a family keepsake, religious icon, and even the symbol of a favorite hobby or sports team can invite a feeling of peace and joy. In my own office, I have the baseball glove I used as a teen. It reminds me of my history and something pleasant from my life.”

Altman says that looking for that wholeness within is a journey for everyone. 

“When I had the opportunity to ordain in a monastery headed by a well-known teaching monk, I got some immediate lessons on how the mind works,” he shares. “That’s because in a monastery you don’t get distracted by computers, phones, TV, and a million other things that keep you from watching the mind!” 

Fortunately, one need not enter a monastery to discover that pearl. Altman’s books, 101 Mindful Ways to Build Resilience and One-Minute Mindfulness, are filled with quick, effective practices for gaining clarity, emotional regulation, de-stressing, and accessing the here and now.

“Who wants to live in fear?” he asks. “We are meant to find joy, to find light. That means understanding that stress and suffering is universal. Once we know that, we can recognize that the antidote is love and compassion.”

He adds, “And gratitude is in all my books because it’s such a powerful medicine for overcoming negative emotions and cultivating connection with others.” 

Historic South Shore Colonial Boasting Eye-catching Gardens Sits Between Two Top Villages

Before becoming the nation’s second president in 1797, John Adams built his reputation as a blunt-speaking man of independent mind. He would have loved knowing that this grand East Patchogue John Adams Colonial nestled on almost two acres of beautifully landscaped grounds embellished with a surprising koi pond and amazing gardens was named after him. 

Every home has a story to tell, especially when it’s steeped in history like this one. Constructed in 1918 for the prestigious Robinson family, who were active in the community, this magnificent and very private John Adams Center Hall colonial with four levels located at 149 South Country Road has only housed three families since that time. It is truly a must-see and the price is right at $1,150,000.

“Views of the enchanting gardens can be had from just about every room in the house but are particularly enjoyable from the large screened porch just off the formal living room,” says Anthony Gandolfo, associate real estate broker at Rice Realty Group, Inc. in Bellport.

“This stately home is located conveniently between two premiere South Shore villages – the historic Village of Bellport and bustling Downtown Patchogue — just named one of the Great Places in America 2019 by the American Planning Association,” he adds. “Both offer spectacular restaurants, unique shops and boutiques, and theaters showcasing top-notch talent and entertainment all year round.”

It took years for the current owners, Long Island native Tara Graskemper and her husband Joseph P. Graskemper, D.D.S., to fully restore the interior, exterior, and grounds to reflect the home’s glory days, enhanced by modern conveniences.

Just down the road is an 18-hole bayfront golf course at the Bellport Country Club. Ferries to Fire Island are minutes away. MacArthur Airport is a 15-minute drive and Patchogue’s Long Island Rail Road train station is a mere 1.5 miles from the home. 

The front of this 4,000-square-foot showpiece boasts a large hedge bordered by an expansive lawn. That part of the property housed a nursery at one time, hence, the variety of specimen plantings and trees, all of which have been brought back and lovingly maintained. 

Original interior details include push button lights, oak and mahogany flooring with inlay, solid mahogany interior doors with crystal knobs, original picture molding, and much more, according to the homeowners, who moved to the area from San Diego in 1996 and raised their three children in the home. The couple, who decided to downsize, has been very involved in their community. And the property has been used as the backdrop for charity events in the past.  

The family has enjoyed four comfortable bedrooms, including a luxurious master with private deck. There are three full bathrooms and one half-bath as well. Both the fully finished third floor and finished basement have heating and plumbing. 

An inviting foyer showcases a dramatic staircase. To the left, a focus wall in the formal living room features a cozy fireplace. Walk through the double sets of French doors and discover a relaxing screened-in porch with slate floor that looks out on stunning views of the surrounding gardens. 

According to the homeowner, the elegant formal dining room right off the kitchen has seen many holiday feasts and intimate dinners. She points out that meal prep is a breeze in the gleaming, stylishly designed and thoughtfully planned kitchen, which boasts premium appliances including a six-burner Thermador gas stove, Sub-Zero fridge, and Viking dishwasher, while still maintaining the original integrity of the room. This space gracefully flows into a sunny dining area with views of the yard and gardens. 

Every summer, lucky guests and family members have taken dips in the large in-ground swimming pool recently redone with Diamond Brite Coating, and sunbathed on the patio where tall hedges maintain privacy. Just beyond, there’s a lovely Cape Cod-style guest/pool house and fully functional Lord & Burnham greenhouse, made of cypress and glass to last a lifetime. 

Notable features/upgrades include a four-car garage, full security system, upgraded heating system, and steel beam construction, as well as hidden fencing for the pool and fencing around the immediate backyard. All gates are custom made.

“149 South Country Road is a perfect home for those wanting classic charm with the best of Long Island just outside their door,” Gandolfo points out. 

“We spent the best time of our lives in this house,” adds Ms. Graskemper, who says she also loves the sense of community. “It’s been a great home; very good to us, and a labor of love.”

“The house feels alive to me,” he continues. “It feels like I’ve been here only as a guardian, taking care of it til the next family moves in. And now it’s time to move on.”

Contact Anthony Gandolfo, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Rice Realty Group Inc.:

Direct: 917-975-5646 / anthony@ricerealty1.com  

Danish and Japanese Interior Design Trends Take Hold in U.S.

Hygge, a hot decorating trend rooted in Danish culture, is all about creating a warm, welcoming home, such as this Laurel Hollow living room designed by Sandra Asdourian. (Photo by Brian Berkowitz)

Embrace life’s simple pleasures by finding joy in the warmth, beauty, and comforts of wellness décor. 

Anyone can create comfy, cozy-chic, uncluttered living spaces that promote emotional and spiritual well-being. So, why not do like the Danes — who may be the happiest people on the planet — and change things up in 2020?  

Declutter and cozy up to hygge (pronounced HYOO-guh) and discover what some say are healing benefits. This hot, Danish-inspired contemporary design trend, which goes well with a laid-back lifestyle, is based on a culture that believes in providing a warm, welcoming environment, finding contentment in everyday life, and being in the moment, as well as living with less. But adopting that philosophy can be challenging. 

“You have to live with intention and practice mindfulness every day, knowing that you have a goal,” says Certified Professional Organizer/Feng Shui Consultant Cynthia Braun, who has been helping many Long Island families find calm through order for years. 

“My clients say they would like to achieve a minimalist lifestyle, but most people have an emotional attachment to their stuff and can’t let go,” she adds. “There’s also a need to fill up empty spaces.”

And that’s a big no-no in wellness design. 


Sophisticated and eye-catching, hygge decor can be seen everywhere these days and is reflected in warm, sunny living spaces that feature a neutral color scheme mixed with earthy hues drawn from nature, streamlined furnishings (mid-century modern styles, etc.), furry accent rugs and snuggly throws, natural materials, and decorative pillows in a variety of textures, including faux fur.

At the heart of these spaces sits a cozy gathering spot where everyone feels welcome and families can unwind together. 

“More and more of my clients have been asking for cozy, comfortable hygge spaces in their homes,” says local designer Sandra Asdourian. “They want a room to relax in, something less formal. They may be having an elegant cocktail party in their living room, but want a family room that’s relaxed. 

“Big sectional sofas with lots of pillows in neutral nature fabrics and textures,” she continues. “A place to sink into and put your feet up while reading or watching TV. Also, room to play board games or cards with friends and family.”


Scientists have found a connection between acquisition and unhappiness.

A great way to jump-start your wellness journey at home and find more inner peace in the new year is by getting rid of things that don’t bring joy, clearing surfaces, creating more space, and moving furniture around to free up the circulation flow. Find a relaxing nook near a sunny window; reboot with a Zen meditation/yoga corner. Bring the outside in with nature views or greenery like spider plants and bamboo palms that purify the air (or use a room purifier); add an indoor fountain.

DIY hygge design ideas are easy to achieve. 

“It all ties into great feng shui,” says Braun, who’s a wiz at transforming spaces by bringing in positive energy, good fortune, and tranquility through the magic of furniture placement and symbolic colors.


Rooted in Asian philosophy dating back 5,000 years, another popular trend celebrates life’s imperfections, authenticity, and a lived-in feeling. 

The antithesis of a ‘too-much’ society, Japanese-inspired wabi-sabi is the search for timeless wisdom. In decorating, the key attributes are asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, and modesty. Choose natural-looking pieces that show wear over time, such as leather, wood, and linen, and simple, modern furniture. Highlight old elements; objects with patina add charm and excitement. Honor ceramics; mix styles and finishes; avoid bright colors.

Both hygge and wabi-sabi philosophies promote a sense of well-being and value quality of life over material things.

So, celebrate the true meaning of family and snuggle up with loved ones, break bread with good friends, and reimagine your living space.

Fully Restored Floral Park Victorian Boasts Original Details, Modern Upgrades

This eye-catching, storybook Victorian is getting a big thumbs up from delighted neighbors and visitors. 

Nestled against a picture-perfect autumn scene, on a quiet tree-lined street, the recently renovated and oh-so-charming historic residence awaits its new owner. The property is located at 285 Lowell Avenue in the Village of Floral Park in Nassau County, which neighbors Floral Park, Queens. Built around 1894, the home’s original owner was an animal lover and veterinarian named Dr. William Van Nostrand.

“It’s a perfect mix of classic and new,” says broker James McGuire of Andron Realty Group, who points out that all the original architectural details and woodwork on the exterior and interior have been lovingly and meticulously preserved and restored by the current owner and local contractor Gregory Kelly of K & B General Contracting, who has lived in the area for 50 years. “The homeowner really admires old-world craftsmanship and has taken great care and pride in restoring this home to its original glory.” 

Boasting both practical and beautiful “bells and whistles” features, this striking 2,269-square-foot, single-family home, which graces an expansive 7,020-square-foot lot, has been completely updated and improved for modern living with top-of-the-line kitchen and bathrooms. Yet it maintains its charming character, as evidenced by the wonderful wood trim and moldings, the original oak hardwood flooring with mahogany border throughout much of the home, pine floors in the second-floor bedrooms, and original pocket doors. A cozy, wood-burning fireplace with an exposed brick accent wall above, serves as the focal point in the den and is perfect for those chilly winter evenings and roasting marshmallows.

Curious residents have been visiting the popular Victorian and marveling at its new look. While exploring the first and second floors via two staircases in between, check out the comfortable living spaces: The first floor has a convenient half bath and the nice-sized living and formal dining rooms eagerly await those merry holiday guests who may soon gather round for drinks, festive meals, and good conversation. The modern eat-in kitchen has special features, including a farm-style sink and a pot filler/water spout at the stove — nice perks for the avid cook — low maintenance (heat- and bacteria-resistant) quartz countertops and island, as well as Frigidaire Gallery appliances.

On the second floor is an impressive master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and walk-in closet, three more bedrooms, and a full bathroom. One flight up, discover a full walk-up attic with bonus room and a cedar closet. And down below is a partially finished basement with a full-size pool table, washer, and dryer. Outside it has a detached two-car garage.

Kelly purchased the property one year ago and is selling it for $998,000. Thanks to his amazing skills and know-how, the house is in mint condition. Modern improvements include updated systems, a new furnace, and a new 50-gallon hot water tank.

The exterior has been completely restored, including all the original finishes, according to McGuire, who points out that the original wood siding was preserved and painted in colonial blue with a complimentary accent color scheme, while the copper exterior gutters/leaders provide another finishing accent.

“This home is not a historic landmark, so there is no restriction on future renovations/color changes, if the new owner wishes to customize the house,” McGuire explains.

Folks who visit may wish to take a few minutes to enjoy the inviting front porch which has a romantic swing and bench seat, then take a walk around the nabe and see why Floral Park is considered such a safe and desirable area.

“Floral Park’s motto is, ‘a great place to live,’” says McGuire. Some of the reasons: the recreation center with newly renovated, residents-only pool, as well as a children’s park area with athletic fields and courts. 

“There’s a small-town community feel, and so many restaurants and shops — all within walking distance,” he adds. “And historic Belmont Park is only a mile away.” 

More plusses: The home isn’t far from the Long Island Rail Road station, making for an easy commute, with only a 35-minute ride to Manhattan. And the village has a private police department and its own fire and sanitation departments. In addition, its elementary and high schools are highly rated.

“Generations of people have come back to look at the home — former residents and neighbors who grew up in the area,” says McGuire. “Some even recall Girl Scout meetings there. This home is now ready for the family that will write the next chapter of history in the Village of Floral Park.”

Contact James A. McGuire, CBR, Associate Real Estate Broker at 516-662 4657/JamesM@AndronRealtyGroup.com