Tammy Scileppi


Smart, Green Homes Healthier For Residents, The Environment

Healthy, high-performance homes can be attractive as well as sustainable energy producers.

Environmentally friendly and next-generation technologies are making households both smart and healthy as savvy homeowners install devices that simplify their lives and secure their biggest investment.

Home innovation trends include integrative systems that detect leaks, regulate temps, and monitor a home’s security, often with the touch of a smartphone. Such upgrades are often made in concert with cost-cutting renewable energy products, such as photovoltaic cells, commonly known as solar panels.

“I think people are looking at things more holistically now when they undergo home construction,” says Daniel Busi, managing director of the U.S. Green Building Council Long Island Chapter (USGBC-LI). “Due to more information being available to the general public about possible rebates/incentives for innovative systems, people are looking to retrofit with a variety of options.”

Approaches include sustainable construction that maximizes materials, efficient building that uses only the necessary amount of resources, resilient construction that prepares for upcoming natural disasters, and renewable energy production that reduces fossil-fuel dependence. Houses that use these standards are referred to as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified homes.

“These options often cost a bit more upfront, but all lead to significant savings,” Busi says. “People have started to really see the ROI [Return on investment] for geothermal, benefits of innovative and alternative wastewater treatment septic systems, value of solar arrays [panels], etc.”

But Busi doesn’t think LEED-certified homes have caught on quick enough and notes that solar sales have declined since 2016.

“It isn’t the case everywhere, but an industry-wide average ROI is seven years,” Busi says of the up-to-$30,000 cost of installing solar panels. “Energy-efficient upgrades can range, but I’ve heard examples of the payback being worth it after only one to two years.”


Home innovation goes beyond consumer devices like Amazon virtual assistant Alexa.

“The future of housing … is home automation,” says Rick Wertheim, senior vice president of housing and green initiatives for United Way of Long Island. “The newest innovation? How homes adjust their indoor home environment to the occupants. Now a home has the ability to detect things that go wrong, on its own.”

In the past, there was never any device to automatically detect toxins, aside from carbon monoxide detectors.

“The most important innovations coming out,” says Wertheim, “are sensors that communicate with home systems like HVAC and monitor if the air is good or bad.”

For example, the Foobot Indoor Air Quality Monitor connects to smartphones and detects if there are too many volatile organic compounds in the air or if the humidity is too high. If so, exhaust fans turn on.

“The solution to indoor pollution is dilution,” he says. “Dilute with fresh air so toxins are less harmful.”


“Putting bamboo floor in my house doesn’t make it green,” says Wertheim. “Bamboo flooring may have formaldehyde.”

He uses this as an example of a phenomenon called green washing, in which companies sell products that make overstated claims of being environmentally friendly. Real green products are sustainable and renewable, he says.

“We have people asking us for insulation products that aren’t toxic,” says architect JP Lardoux, who works with Wertheim on building green houses. “Instead of fiberglass products, some folks are using cellulose (chopped-up newspaper). Foams can create bad gases. This is a natural recyclable product.”

Cellulose works better on cold air. Borax (boric acid) is also added, a natural fireproofing agent that even acts as an insect and rodent repellent.

For floors, Wertheim suggests strong, economical, sustainable Marmoleum — an all-natural flooring that’s an alternative to sheet vinyl.

Devices like thermal leak detectors that integrate with the home’s water supply systems via smartphones to detect leaks and fix insulation are an efficient way to monitor ducts, windows, and other vulnerable insulation spots.

Wertheim says the next big thing for green tech is the heat pump, an inexpensive, electric plug-in system that can switch between heating and cooling and replace air conditioners.

While most homes here aren’t built to high-level, stringent construction standards, as such building becomes commonplace, more homeowners are taking the plunge.

“Eventually these devices and products will become more economical to incorporate into your house,” he says. “You may not be able to do fully automated systems, but you can try and implement as much as you can.”

“Sooner or later,” he quips, “the house will become more like a machine that’s working for us.”

Tot Spots: Sugar ‘n Spice and Everything Nice

They say that girls are sugar and spice and everything nice, and boys are into frogs, snails, and puppy dog’s tails. And they’re all little angels, especially when they’re napping … in a soft crib surrounded by cool things that mom and dad lovingly picked out just for them.

Happy little girls’ rooms and nurseries begin with a dreamy design concept, and these magical spots for little divas can easily grow and change as their pint-sized occupants get older. First, they’ll need a place to play with their toys and imaginary friends; later on, a space to hang out in with real ones and do homework. Just add a comfy big-girl bed, desk, and beanbag chairs.


This one has it all: Cute storage ideas, fun bedding and accessories, and cool wall decorations that spark her imagination.

“The nursery (my little kiddo’s) started with the world map that’s above the [Wayfair] changer — it set the mood — and it built from there,” says Crystal Sinclair of Crystal Sinclair Designs, who lives in Baldwin and works with Homepolish, a unique service that provides clients with accessible design expertise and gives designers access to clients.  

“I knew we needed items to be kid friendly and fun, nothing expected,” she adds. “Takes some sourcing out of the box, meaning I steered clear of kid shops for items that weren’t baby oriented (lights, rugs, dresser, etc.). And I wanted a ceiling paper, so the self-adhesive panels from Chasing Paper were perfect!”

The expectant parents didn’t want a girly room for 14-month-old Mira, but a space that could grow with her — playful enough for a nursery but serious enough for a tweener who would one day make it her own.

Sinclair’s nesting instinct took over and she enjoyed gathering everything she’d need for baby’s new digs: Delta crib from Amazon, Wayfair glider and square bookcase, Ikea floor lamp, and RH Teen rug; the West Elm mobile was modified to fit the space better.

“We painted the walls Chantilly Lace. Floors were great, just needed a rug. We wanted to see the crib as we entered, making it the focal.”

The windows are offset, so she added extra wide custom drapes from Loom Décor to give the illusion of larger, more centered, windows.

“I was careful with lighting placement; you want light for specific tasks but nothing too bright to wake baby at 3 a.m.,” Sinclair explains. “So, we have a plug-in wall sconce by the changing table, a light for nighttime stories/feedings, and an overhead pendant too.”

So, how will the room grow with Mira? 

“The colors and patterns are perfect for a baby to teen,” she says. “Only the furniture needs swapping as needs change.”


C’est magnifique! Gold Coast’s French Chateau a Nod to Versailles

Louis XIV would have loved this splendide French chateau set on eight magnificent acres in Brookville. Asking price? $15,000,000.

A rare jewel, Haut Bois (or “high wood”) was inspired by the king’s hunting lodge, which was to become the Palace of Versailles. And its exquisite formal gardens — modeled after the spectacular gardens at Versailles — were conceived by prominent Parisian landscape designer, Jacques Gréber.

“The home has an impressive provenance and has made an appearance in numerous books which detail the fabulous, grand estates dotted along the North Shore’s Gold Coast,” notes John Messina of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. “Although grand and formal, the house is still warm and inviting. All the main rooms have French windows and doors which are perfectly situated to face south for the very best light, and they overlook the picturesque gardens.”

Designed by renowned architect Ogden Codman Jr. in 1916, Haut Bois was built for Walter Effingham Maynard, a real estate tycoon.

During the Roaring Twenties, Jay Gatsby may have been one of the elite guests at the numerous parties the residents of Haut Bois were known for hosting. Famed author Edith Wharton spent summers there with her dear friend Ogden Codman, who co-wrote The Decoration of Houses, still studied by design students today.

Countless photo shoots have captured the estate’s splendor. It has been beautifully restored to its former glory by master artisans and decorators who specialize in 17th century French architecture and design, to ensure that the restoration stayed true to the home’s origins.

“The original Rouge Languedoc marble, mined more than 100 years ago from a French quarry, was found in Italy and used to restore the entry foyer and one of the hallways. To guide this extensive renovation, the homeowners used photos and pictures from the archives at the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities and from Wharton’s own Massachusetts home, The Mount, which was also designed by Codman [and Wharton] and is today a national historic landmark,” Messina explains.

Modern-day renovations include new heating, electrical, sound, security, building management, air conditioning, septic, well, and irrigation systems. Also, the roof, elevator, and all the windows and doors were replaced.

“Equipped with a tennis court, pool, pool house, children’s playhouses, a reflecting pond, fountains, a golf green, exercise and billiard rooms, and a theater, the home also offers an outdoor kitchen and built-in fireplace, ideal for al fresco entertaining on cooler nights,” says Messina.

“Activities such as horse riding, fishing, yachting, golf, swimming, skeet shooting and winter sports, such as skating and hockey, are held at neighboring clubs.”

Haut Bois is one of the few great estates still held by private owners. The opulent, 18-room mansion is in diamond condition, boasting seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, formal living and dining rooms, breakfast and family areas, an eat-in kitchen, a finished basement and attached garage. Special features: six fireplaces, wine cellar, and more.

This residence is an easy 26-mile commute to Manhattan and conveniently located just minutes away from the Long Island Expressway. Nearby, superb dining options abound, as well as designer shopping at Americana Manhasset.

“The current owners are both successful, second-generation civil litigators who grew up in Manhasset and chose to return to the Gold Coast to raise their three children. They remained happy in the home for 20 years and are ready to enjoy the next phase of their lives,” Messina says, noting that previous owners include Irving Stitsky, the notorious partner at Stratton Oakmont, who was depicted in Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street. Patrice Munsel, the youngest singer to ever star at the Metropolitan Opera, also lived there; she would often open the French windows overlooking the gardens and sing to the neighborhood children while they played on the grounds.

“Anyone who enjoys the finer things in life would be happy living at Haut Bois,” says Messina. “With New York City so close by, you have everything here that life has to offer.”

Contact: John Messina, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, GRI, SRES – Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, Cold Spring Harbor Cell: 516-241-0761

Moving Season Outlook: Cloudy Forecast For 2019 Long Island Home Sales

April marks the start of moving season on Long Island (Getty Images)

Call it the tale of two Long Islands.

Residential inventory is rising and home prices are continuing to trend upward in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The data suggests the local residential real estate market is getting more favorable to buyers as moving season arrives in April, but a closer look reveals a murkier truth. Competition remains fierce for starter homes, while those who can afford to buy one of the region’s generous selection of luxury homes are slower than usual to sign on the dotted line.

“The market is changing,” says Arleen Goscinski, ASA, an East Northport-based appraiser and former broker who noted that last year was a strong sellers’ market with a low inventory that caused prices to rise and generated frequent multiple offers. “Interest rates are rising, financial markets are volatile, and wages are not keeping up with inflation.”

Nassau reported a $525,000 closed median home price in January, representing a 5 percent increase over last year, while Suffolk reported a closed median price of $380,000, a 5.8 percent increase over what was reported a year ago, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island (MLSLI). The total number of Long Island residential inventory in January was 15,270, a 14.4 percent increase over last year, MLSLI said.

The shift follows a national trend.

“The central storylines in the U.S. housing market didn’t change much over the past few years, but a series of emerging trends is setting up a much different narrative for 2019,” said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. “Certain headwinds — including rising mortgage interest rates, higher rents and stiff competition for housing in the most desirable areas — will only grow stronger over the next year, but that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. A slower-moving market is likely to give more buyers a chance to catch their breath and choose from a wider selection of homes.”

Half of local business owners believe residential real estate prices will increase this year, down from 66 percent last year, according to the 2019 Long Island Economic Survey and Opinion Poll released by the Hauppauge Industrial Association of Long Island in February. Twenty three percent of respondents believe prices will decrease and 27 percent believe prices will remain the same.

Further complicating things is the impact of the new $10,000 cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions and Nassau’s property tax reassessment, which has put tax bills in flux for many local homeowners. Forty percent of respondents to the HIA study are concerned that the tax reform will have a negative impact on the value of their home. Fifteen percent said they will either downsize or move out of state as a result.

“As purchasing power diminishes, a decline in property values generally ensues,” Goscinski says.

Rich Amato, operating principal/broker of Keller Williams Greater Nassau and Points North, remains optimistic.

“We have researched past markets and the current market conditions thoroughly and expect the market on Long Island to remain strong,” he says.

That said, he expects the April market to continue to have relatively low inventory levels, especially in affordable areas of Nassau.

“We have seen some slowing in the luxury market and expect this trend to continue,” he says. “The starter and investor markets remain very strong as demand for entry-level homes is still heated and homes that represent a value still get multiple offers.”

“The decrease in SALT deductions has not helped the market, especially in some of the higher-taxed areas,” he adds. “We do hear people talking about it, but people who want to buy a home will still buy a home. They will just buy a different home or lease a different car and make it work.”

Mortgage guarantor Freddie Mac agrees, suggesting buyers shouldn’t expect this year’s market to be much easier to navigate.

“While housing activity has clearly softened over the last nine months … ,” the agency said in a recent report, “lower mortgage rates and a strong job market should rekindle demand for the spring homebuying season.”

Beds Take Center Stage in These Divine Master Suite Redos

The bedroom should be a peaceful, inviting sanctuary.

Whether a minimalist, cozy retreat for two or a sumptuous, beautifully appointed boudoir that’s perfect for one, this special space should reflect its occupants’ lifestyle as well as taste.

According to one local designer, these key elements make for a super-romantic, Cupid-approved bedroom: silk, velvet, wired music, and layers of lighting.


With an eye for detail, seasoned design pro Wendy Lepkoff of Wendy Interiors recently revamped her client’s mediocre sleeping space using high-quality materials, opulent fabrics, and rich textures along with elegant vintage-inspired furnishings to create a master boudoir that’s to die for.

In this Rockville Centre redo, the fabulousness extends to the master bathroom as well, as seen in the custom vanity and patterned tile walls. Since this is an older construction it’s not as large as some master baths designed today.

“After my client Freya T.’s husband had passed, she wanted a more functional, feminine and formal master bedroom,” says Lepkoff, who has 25 years of industry experience under her belt.

“With brand-new cream curvilinear furniture, greenish-gray cinderblock wallpaper and damask broadloom, custom bedding for her Queen-size bed and window treatments as well as closet systems, new framed artwork, lighting and accessories, she was given a retreat fit for a queen.”

After creating a design dialogue, Lepkoff fulfilled her client’s wish list, which also included reading, TV and dressing areas, and more storage space.

Pouring her creative energies into space planning, furniture design, and renovations, her full-service design studio took this lucky lady from consultation to “wow” in six weeks for the renovation and four months for the interior design.

“For the bedroom, it is smart to look for bedding and window fabric first and then coordinate carpeting, paint and wallcovering,” Lepkoff explains. “The last step: Select furniture according to the floor plan and be sure to create balance in the space. For the bathroom, select wallpaper and tile first, then vanity and fixtures.”

While making her clients’ visions a reality, Lepkoff also takes time to give back. Working with charities, she helps make other people’s design dreams come true.


A Bay Shore home got a much-needed facelift along with a master suite reno that made both the mister and missus very happy.

Anne Marie Virgilio, of Interiors by Anne Marie, took her clients — a couple with three kids — from inspiration to installation. She transformed an outdated bedroom into a well-designed romantic spot decked out in soft shades of pastel blue and springtime florals juxtaposed against sophisticated neutrals and contemporary elements. Virgilio has worked with these clients since 2003.

“Throughout the years, we have slowly redesigned, room by room,” she says. “As parents, they have put everyone’s needs first. It was finally time to give themselves a beautiful, serene master suite with a walk-in closet.”

A baby blue, custom-made curved headboard completes the desired look, while large, neutral accent pillows sporting crisp blue and white stripes offset the flowery coverlet and add a more tailored spin to the feminine décor, as do the his and hers chaise lounges, which are strategically placed opposite a wall-mounted TV and large bureau.

“At first consultation, we spoke of each his and her needs and created a wish list.  I went to the drawing board and created a cohesive space and scheme,” says Virgilio, whose team moved walls, relocated doors, changed plumbing, etc.

The master bathroom was gutted. Marble mosaic (Artsaics) was used for the shower wall and floor; a custom vanity was built for storage.

“My clients hire me for my expertise in color, design and style and my attention to detail. Therefore, my pleasure is working directly with them, one on one,” says Virgilio. “However, I have phenomenal vendors and trades with whom I work. My upholsterer, my window treatment installer, my fabric workroom.”

To enhance one’s space, she suggests creating cozy vignettes of pictures, books, fresh flowers…always a pick-me-up, especially during those bleak winter months.

Cold Spring Harbor Beauty Captures Views, Breezes

Long Island’s awe-inspiring homes should be celebrated for their majestic beauty. One swoon-worthy lovely in Cold Spring Harbor patiently awaits its new owner. The asking price is $4,700,000, for this gem with an impressive array of irresistible features and a cornucopia of wonderful offerings.

Nestled on 6.07 acres in a setting reminiscent of a true Gold Coast estate, this French provincial home is called “Belvedere.” It was built to capture the beautiful light and breezes of an east-west exposure, along with a picturesque view of the valley and blue waters of Cold Spring Harbor and Long Island Sound beyond, according to Kathryn “Cottie” Maxwell Pournaras, associate real estate broker at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.  

“The current owner, a Wall Street businessman (and only the second owner), values the privacy the property affords along with its proximity to the Long Island Rail Road for easy commuting to Manhattan,” says Maxwell Pournaras. “The family moved here full time in the 1980s, enjoying the peaceful lifestyle yet close to all that the community offers.”

Designed in 1933 by Auguste L. Noel, a graduate of the Beaux Arts School of Architecture in Paris who designed the original Whitney Museum of American Art and other buildings, Belvedere was built for Dwight D. President Eisenhower-appointed Ambassador to Australia Douglas M. Moffat, who used the dwelling as his summer residence.  

Visitors enter via a half-mile, tree-lined driveway surrounded by protected parkland. The grand manor is graced with a white washed brick façade, slate roof and terraces of cast stone and old-world forged-iron work.  

This stunning residence offers unparalleled craftsmanship from a bygone era, and the unique property reveals moss-covered walking trails, a favored sledding hill, lighted sports court, and a special treat: a replica of the thatch-roofed playhouse from Old Westbury Gardens. Within tall brick walls and iron gates lies the gunite pool with bluestone terrace and bucolic gardens.

Refined interiors boast 11-foot ceilings, original walnut floors, French doors, elegant woodwork and pleasing proportions in all rooms. The living room, formal dining room, and paneled library, each with imported fireplaces, open to the bluestone patio. A renovated country kitchen features original glass cabinetry, polished oak countertops, and top-of-the-line appliances. Additional sink, dishwasher and china cabinets are found in the butler’s pantry, adjacent to the spacious family room and sunny breakfast area.  

Another surprise: A bridal staircase from the great hall opens to the second floor, revealing a master suite with a curved window wall and western water views, fireplace, dressing room with cedar closets, and double doors that open onto a private terrace. In addition, there are three bedrooms with renovated en-suite baths, and three boudoirs that share a hall bath. The third floor offers two more bedrooms and a rooftop overlook with panoramic water views.

And there’s more. The lower level boasts a gym, full bath with sauna, laundry, and storage. The heated three-car garage has a two-bedroom guest apartment with living room, kitchen, and bath.

That is to say, Belvedere lives up to its Latin root: “beautiful sight.”

For more information, contact Kathryn “Cottie” Maxwell Pournaras, Associate Real Estate Broker, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty 516-759-4800 x131, or kathrynmaxwell@danielgale.com

Cupid-approved Home Settings To Spark Romance

Chocoate-covered strawberries are a fitting centerpiece for any Valentine's Day table setting. (Courtesy Elegant Eating)

Valentine’s Day has evolved over the years and isn’t just about a couple doing dinner any longer.

Love and togetherness can be celebrated anywhere and in many ways: by a group of friends, twos, or just solo — and some rebels even throw anti-Valentine’s Day parties. But for that ever-popular, traditional experience, Chef Jonathan (Scinto) shares his tips for setting up the perfect romantic table a deux for V-Day or any special occasion.

“I do match it up to the client’s taste and really try to keep it as classic and refined as possible, with a little chic thrown in,” he says.

That said, for Ooh la la table settings and room décor that spark romance, DIY creative and a bit over the top works great as well. (Check out some inspirations – à la Etsy – below.)

“I use special plates that are based on the menu to set it all up like it’s a canvas,” Scinto explains. “So, let’s say it’s a seafood dish like oysters Prosecco; I’m using my really good White One idea: china plates that have a texture to them. It really sets off the color of the oyster shells.

So, be mindful of what your serving first, then use that as your paint and the plate as the canvas.”

And finish the meal with decadent desserts and chocolate.

Another element to keep in mind is that all-important mood lighting. Scinto suggests: Dim the lights and light beautiful candles for the table.

“If your lights don’t dim, then close them and use stem candles to give that glitter in the sky ambiance,” he says.

Oh, and don’t forget to put on some sexy music. It can set the tone for that entire romantic evening. Barry White, anyone?

“If it’s an Italian-inspired menu, I’m playing some classic Italian opera; or, if the menu is a fusion, I’m playing like, Billy Joel’s ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,’” says Scinto. “It really depends on the food, though, because I play music based on the menu.”

He adds: “For my clients, every dinner experience is custom tailored to their palates; no menu is ever the same because they’re paying for their own individual culinary adventure. Maybe it’s about a romantic vacation; I would make the table setting theme resemble that experience, from the tablecloth to the silverware.”

Chef Jonathan (Scinto), who was nominated in the 2019 Bethpage Best of Long Island contest, can be reached at 516-428-6968, on Instagram and Facebook via @chefjonathans

V-Day inspirations for décor, table settings and gifts (à la Etsy):

Themed pillows; table runners/toppers and placemats, napkins (red or themed); wreaths and banners, heart doilies for hanging; garland; centerpieces with red, pink, white faux or real flowers; foliage; and hearts and LED lights.

Candle rings made with bows and lace over wire; red tableware and decorated wine glasses (vintage = romantic); place cards, napkin holders.

Clear vases or bowls with red floating candles; heart soaps; a bowl with red, pink painted pine cones.

A Taste of Instagram: Sea to Steak

Chef Jonathan suggests this sumptuous four-course dinner with a cocktail

Cocktail: Strawberry Mint Chocolate Martini

First Course: Asian-Infused Oysters Prosecco Mignonette

Second Course: Seared Scallops and Mango Puree

Entree: Grilled Prime Filet Mignon, Purple and Yukon Potatoes with Spicy Cole Slaw

Dessert: Black and White Chocolate Mousse Cookie

Strawberry Mint Choc. Martini

Laid-Back Spaces That Welcome Family and Friends

These days, living spaces are made for chilling. No longer formal and stuffy, they’re all about comfort, and are cleverly designed for casual entertainment and family fun. Special kid-friendly spots that are nestled within inspire creativity.


Check out this bright and inviting finished lower-level family room that merges multipurpose elements with unexpected features.

The eye-catching layout was conjured up by partners in design Jennifer Fox and Tonia Omeltchenko of award-winning Fox + Chenko Interiors Ltd., for a couple with two active school-aged children in Port Washington.

“They envisioned a cozy space to build Lego creations and have fun with art projects, as well as an area where they could all watch TV, catch up on their iPads, and entertain friends,” says Omeltchenko.

So, the savvy design team carved out a beverage/snack area, anchored a large sectional sofa with chaise to define the TV/media area, and defined a separate spot with a table for Legos and art, as well as a C-table for computer work.

Omeltchenko suggests: “Create distinct zones for all the activities you enjoy, maximize the space by carefully selecting the size and scale of your furnishings, and allow for proper egress.”

The original space was narrow with inadequate lighting, and had an uneven concrete floor and builder’s-grade hardware. A support column was awkwardly positioned, and low soffits enclosed the HVAC ductwork.

That meant the lower level had to be waterproofed and the subfloor leveled. New exterior and interior doors and a window were installed. The support column now defines egress to a play area outlined by another soffit.

Modern solar shades on windows and an exterior door were installed for streamlined coverage, allowing daylight to filter in while providing privacy.

A cool custom bar features a glass tile mosaic backsplash and boasts multiple refrigerators to separate adults’ from children’s beverages, a sink, niches with electrical outlets for small appliances, and solid surface countertops for easy maintenance. The low soffit with recessed lighting is integrated into its design.

Soothing neutrals enlivened with cheery accent colors enhance the laid-back vibe.

When the kids are finally asleep, this space can easily transform into a private sanctuary – perfect for hosting late-night, adult-only parties.


Teals and turquoise and neutrals…oh my! Pops of refreshing colors and eye-pleasing contemporary pieces mixed with touches of traditional styling merge beautifully to create a sophisticated and relaxing great room designed for entertaining, trumping the formerly blah space. The living room takes front and center in this reno.

Pier 1 accessories and a stylish Wayfair bar in the dining area, along with a couple of interesting side-table vignettes strategically placed here and there, take this revamped gem to a whole new level for a couple in their ’60s who had been living in their Babylon Village colonial cape for two years.

“They downsized from a larger house in Nassau and yearned for a home they could entertain in comfortably,”  says design pro Sandra Asdourian of Sandra Asdourian Interiors. “Crown moldings, high ceilings and a waterfront view from every window inspired us to go with a coastal transitional mix in this inviting great room.”

She took advantage of the open floor plan from the kitchen, dining room, and great room with French doors opening to the balcony. Her clients use the combined spaces, with the dining room as a buffet and bar area, for their guests.

Neutral colors were used on walls, the floors were refinished, and beautiful area rugs were put down in the living room where classy furniture pieces spruce up the outdated décor.

“So many times, when designing a space for clients, there are several family members using the room for different functions,” Asdourian notes. “The large sectional sofa is positioned across the room from a large TV for easy viewing. In addition, the arc lighting illuminates the sofa area perfectly for reading.”

She adds: “Working with a beautiful view from the French doors, we wanted the seating to capture the outside, too.”

The “wow factor” is obvious in this unique revamp.

United Way of Long Island Builds House Of The Future in Patchogue

United Way of Long Island’s Housing team, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, center, and Suffolk County Landbank volunteers gave hands- on help to build a house that they hope will be a model to local developers.

The new year promises to be an awesome one for one lucky homeowner who will be enjoying all the features that an innovative house of the future offers.

Located at 23 Furman Avenue in East Patchogue, the 1,360-square-foot abode on a 10,000-square-foot lot is a new build scheduled to be completed this month. The modest Farm Ranch-style dwelling may seem like an ordinary three-bedroom, two-bath home with a yard, although it’s anything but ordinary. It’s a certified Zero Energy Ready Home featuring advanced energy savings, comfort, health, durability, quality, and per- formance that can be expected to stand the test of time.

“Homeowners will benefit long term and save money on electric, heating, and gas,” says Rick Wertheim, senior vice president of Housing and Green Initiatives at United Way of Long Island, which has been involved with innovative building projects since 1996. “That’s the transformational thing about this house. We’re building these houses to educate and make communities aware of what is a terrific resource when you’re building or remodeling.”

The nonprofit, which has won U.S. Department of Energy awards for similar high-tech homes the group built on LI, follows recommendations from the federal agency on how to build energy-efficient homes. Most Long Island homes aren’t built to such high-level stringent construction standards.

This is the first time that the Deer Park-based nonprofit is teaming up with Suffolk County Landbank to sell a home for struggling first-time home buyers who would otherwise be unable to afford one.

“The work of the Suffolk County Landbank is vital to our operations, helping to fight against blight and abandonment,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “I want to thank our partners at United Way of Long Island, whose commitment and investment have made this project possible.”

The new structure replaced a boarded-up abandoned house that had been a blight on the community. The price of the new home is $375,000.

“One of United Way of Long Island’s goals is to develop quality housing and to ensure that families and individuals are living in healthy and safe environments,” says the organization’s President and CEO Theresa Regnante. “Our organization is not new to housing development…we are simply doing more of it and taking advantage of the latest technology in the industry, such as using tablets to control room temperatures.”

So, what makes this ‘little house that could’ so unique and ahead of its time? According to United Way of LI, such homes have pre-engineered components and advanced insulating materials.

“We build the house as a system,” says Wertheim. “Every component complements the other. Everyone works together for the same goal.”

Key features include:

• High vaulted ceilings and an open-plan living, kitchen, dining area
• Generous-sized covered porch for outdoor living; a drainable driveway
• U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home certified
• Solar panels provide low- or no-energy bill
• Healthy home with continuous whole-house ventilation and advanced air filtration
• State-of-the-art heating and cooling system
• Energy Star certified
• Water management system to protect roof, walls, foundation from water damage
• Advanced exterior wall system consisting of air sealing, quality insulation and high performance triple-pane windows
• Smart home technology
•Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and interior finishes
• Water conservation fixtures
• Energy-efficient lighting, appliances
• Advanced septic system protects local groundwater
• Drought-resistant, native-grown landscaping

“This is our recipe for all homes: healthy, super energy-efficient and bright,” says Wertheim. “You live better, feel better in them.”

“These homes are so energy efficient — you only need 20,000 BTUs — that all or most of their annual energy consumption will be offset with renewable energy, like solar panels,” he adds.

Workers have been schooled at United Way of Long Island’s E3 SmartBuild Training Center, which also offers residents free Healthy Home Energy Assessments. But best of all, this is a rare case of a builder not trying to make a buck on the deal.

“The Patchogue house is new construction and will be completed February 2019,” Wertheim says, noting that a lottery for qualified applicants will be announced at a later date.

Individuals who are interested in first-time homebuyer counseling or education should contact Elaine Kaleta, United Way of Long Island at 631-940-3721 / ekaleta@unitedwayli.org. To view more images & videos visit; unitedwayli.org/homeofthefuture

BEFORE: The new house replaced an abandoned home, which was demolished.
Professionals and volunteers joined forces to build the house.
AFTER: An artist’s rendering of what the completed house will look like.

How To Get Organized And Declutter in 2019

Many people use the new year as motivation to get organized.

’Tis the season to get organized. The new year means new beginnings, so it’s a perfect time to start fresh, declutter and create more space.

That means out with the old stuff! Here’s a suggestion: Give back by donating some items, sell others at a yard sale or online, and just trash the rest. After all, those newfangled toys, gadgets, tchotchkes and other gifts are going to need a home now.

“Organizing is not rocket science, but it can be hard work,” says Cynthia Braun, a certified professional organizer and feng shui consultant on Long Island. “ So, roll up your sleeves and just make a start. Most importantly, I teach my clients how to maintain order after we’re finished.”                                                                                

Occasionally, Braun visits clients’ homes to conduct an in-depth feng shui assessment using the bagua energy map, five elements theory and other tools and techniques. She offers step-by-step guidance to make personal feng shui adjustments, including organizing ideas, furniture recommendations, room-by-room color and art selection, and more.

Here, she offers tips and suggests solutions for reining in the mess and creating calm from chaos.

“My approach is, first know the goals of the space or room,” she says. “Then declutter. Get rid of items that don’t work for the area. Next, decide what needs to be there to make the tasks of the room function smoothly. Know resources that can build closets, shelves, etc. or purchase items like furniture, organizing supplies that will help maintain the room’s function.”

Finally, add decorative touches that will enhance the space without cluttering it up again.

“After the holidays, it’s important to return decorations to organized storage,” she says. “This will make next year’s decorating simple.”

Use clear, labeled containers and sort, organize, and store by groupings of like items or by area where displayed. For example, containers labelled “fireplace mantel” should hold stuff like candles and stockings.

Get rid of old or unwanted toys and clothing. To avoid paper clutter, set up a paper management system and keep holiday recipes in a binder or recipe box.

Design pro Sandra Asdourian, of Sandra Asdourian Interiors in Babylon Village, injects organizational elements into her renovation projects, based on her clients’ needs.

“Great design starts with the floor plan, organizing and understanding how the family will be living in the space,” she says.

For example, in a well-used guest bedroom she designed, the clients entertained a lot of overnight weekend guests. They required extra storage for additional bedding and linens. So, she installed a storage bed. The bed frame easily lifts with a hidden hydraulic mechanism. This way, they could organize the extra linens without sacrificing closet space.

“We also needed to organize an easy space to entertain, so the clients and their guests could move from the kitchen to the great room to the balcony with ease,” Asdourian explains. “They used the combined spaces with the dining room as a buffet and bar area for their guests.”

Braun’s longtime client Pam, of Commack, says she realized she wasn’t staying on top of the clutter in her house. Her worst enemy was paper. The dining room table and home office desks were always piled high with catalogs, mail, and other documents.

“I wanted to invite friends over but was postponing that until the house was back in order, but that never happened,” Pam says. “I found Cynthia, thank goodness, and just the first day she accomplished what would have taken me weeks…She taught me a new way to think. I realize now that a lot of people have the same issues, so I don’t feel alone. This has been a life changer!”


  1. Identify why you want to get organized
  2. Write it down and keep it visibly posted
  3. Make a plan
  4. Mark a date on your calendar
  5. When done, reward yourself