Tammy Scileppi


Huntington Bay Compound Offers Panoramic Harbor Views and Gardens Galore

It’s easy to fall in love with this timeless gem, which offers picture-perfect sunset water views across Huntington and Lloyd harbors.

Located at 142 E. Shore Road in Huntington Bay, this sprawling, modern-style, completely updated Victorian built on a one-acre lot around 1893 comes complete with a charming, fully functional, two-story guest cottage; a tranquil stream; and lots of room to roam. The asking price is $1,850,000.

“This magnificent waterfront compound is truly a rare find,” says broker/owner Joyce Mennella of Lucky To Live Here Realty in Cold Spring Harbor. “The sunsets are remarkable from the front porch and the direct water access [to enjoy water sports, etc.] is perfect during warmer months. You can take your kayak and jump right in or enjoy private waterfront dining every night.”

Guests will love the peaceful waterfall and backyard fireplace in the rear patio – a perfect space for entertaining and unwinding. The advantage of having a separate private cottage is immeasurable.

“My favorite feature is the separate guest cottage,” says Mennella. “It has its own kitchen, two bedrooms, [one and a half bathrooms], laundry and rec space — really great when family or friends visit.”

The homeowners, who bought the property 19 years ago and raised their five children there, have enjoyed the stellar views from their wonderful front covered porch. Another perk: They could moor their boat right in front of their home.

The main house offers a whopping 5,000 square feet of living/entertaining space that includes six bedrooms, an en-suite master, four full bathrooms plus one half bath, formal dining room, and a huge family room. Eye-catching interior features include extensive millwork and architectural detail throughout.

Updates include a new kitchen and library complete with wine/beverage fridge, family room, and three bathrooms. They also put in a new heating system, central air, and more.  

By keeping the footprint, the homeowners said they have enjoyed very low taxes. And they emphasized that the proximity five minutes from downtown Huntington, which has some of Long Island’s best restaurants and shopping, was a definite plus for them.

Downtown Huntington offers residents and visitors a cornucopia of things to do and see, including exploring museums, historic places, theater, dance, music, visual art exhibitions, educational programs, and artist workshops.

That’s assuming residents of this gorgeous Victorian can manage to leave their beautiful home long enough for a night out on the town. 

For more information, contact Elena D’Agostino & Joyce Mennella, Listing Brokers/Owners at team@luckytolivehere.com or 631-692-7100

How To Unspouse Your House After Becoming Single

A fresh coat of paint is the quickest way to bring change to a living space after becoming single. (Getty Images)

Saying adios to a significant other is no easy task.

Unspousing one’s space and making the adjustment from cohabitating to living alone — after a divorce, breakup, or someone’s passing — takes hefty doses of courage. 

“Clearing the clutter is both liberating and empowering,” says designer Tonia Omeltchenko of Fox + Chenko Interiors, an award-winning firm based on Long Island. “You are essentially taking control of your life and allowing yourself to facilitate positive change.”

She and her design partner Jen Fox offer suggestions for creating a space that reflects the new you.


They start with tips for women.

“Show off your signature style to create a feminine home,” she says. “Have fun with gorgeous color and a mix of patterns in luscious fabrics such as velvet, linen, or silk on your furnishings, walls, and window treatments. Look for graceful furniture silhouettes, in materials of mirrored finishes, custom metallics, and specialty woods.”

For guys, it’s time to make a masculine statement.

“Choose furnishings of rich materials such as leather, shagreen, or stone,”  Omeltchenko suggests. “Shake up a traditional seating area by centering recliners around a cocktail table. Consider a live edge table in a beautiful wood to impart a modern organic feel.”

They also suggest choosing strong colors and bold patterns to personalize the bedroom. 

The master suite is where the design budget for luxury items should ideally be spent,” Omeltchenko says. “High thread-count sheets, sumptuous pillows and bedding, beautifully layered window treatments, and soft adjustable lighting are both soothing and exciting. So, whether one is looking for self-healing or ready to move on to another relationship, they’ll be ready for any eventuality!”


Life’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, the saying goes. Same goes for design. 

“We suggest staying focused and completing the goal of making your home reflect you and your interests as you start a new life,” says Fox. 

Declutter, purge, and rearrange the furniture. Paint fresh colors on walls for an instant change.

“Consider purchasing some key furnishings to update your look,” Omeltchenko suggests. “A modern sectional sofa offers plenty of seating and can replace a more traditional configuration with a sofa and chairs. Custom window treatments perfectly finish your rooms and add a special sense of style.”

Keep spaces bright and airy and bring life and good energy in with plants. 

What about the kids? According to both designers, it’s important that children feel secure, safe, and happy in their room. Be sure to include familiar toys and belongings. Involve your child so they have a say in selecting any new bedding or furnishings.


A breakup can be an incredibly painful experience. 

“Having reminders of your ex-partner around your living space is likely to prolong this period of grief,” says Marisa T. Cohen,Ph. D.,  a local relationship coach and educator. 

She suggests removing items such as photos to avoid reminders. But don’t be too quick to purge everything when in an emotional state. 

“You may come to regret that later,” she says. “Wait until the emotions dissipate a bit and then decide what you want to save. And don’t do anything too drastic (like renos) if you aren’t feeling yourself.”

Having a support system and seeking advice from a coach, therapist, organizer, or designer can make a big difference.


This is the opportunity to focus on what you want your space to look like.

“Take the time to really think about what is important to you and how you want that reflected in your home,” Cohen says. “Use your new space as a canvas to explore your own interests and style. It can be a wonderful time for self-exploration as you decide what you want to fill your space with.” 

Both designers suggest creating surroundings that bring joy. 

“Focus on yourself as you heal and move forward with your life,” says Fox. “Take time to discover what makes you truly happy. Stretch out and fill your spaces with light, laughter, and love!”

Waterfront Estate Offers Smart, Resort-style Living in The Heart of Babylon

That breathtaking grand entry with the sweeping dual staircase is the star of this gated waterfront estate in the heart of Babylon Village.  

“Stunning home with gorgeous views from every room of the Great South Bay. Perfect sunrises and sunsets,” says listing agent Tammy Ramsay of Eric G. Ramsay Jr. Associates LLC in Bay Shore.

Experience 9,329 square feet of high-end, resort-style living, and enjoy tons of entertaining space. All for just $3,695,000.   

This sprawling mansion at 199 Peninsula Drive is nestled in a private cul-de-sac and surrounded by 557 feet of coastal magnificence. 

With easy access to Fire Island, the property graces 1.21 acres and occupies three quarters of the peninsula bordered on the east by the Carlls River. Unique amenities include a deep water slip that can accommodate up to a 55-foot yacht with 18-foot beam. There are two Jet Ski lifts and one 10,000-pound boat lift that can accommodate a 26-foot boat. 

“Nothing competes with life on the water,” says seller Tom Sweeney, who has lived at the home with wife Fran and their family for 19 years. “It’s like living at a five-star resort that you actually own.”

Amenities include a 12-person spa Jacuzzi and 45-foot by 20-foot Gunite pool with waterfall, a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, 800-bottle wine cellar, and 3,000 square feet of custom Saturnia flooring from Turkey. In addition, this smart home offering a cornucopia of special high-tech features is conveniently located less than a mile from the Long Island Rail Road’s Babylon station. 

“Babylon is a great community,” says Sweeney. “It has a small-town atmosphere, with great neighbors. Everything you could ever want and desire is nearby.” 

Walk to downtown restaurants, shops, the theater; enjoy concerts at the gazebo; and visit arts and crafts events and flea markets. There’s even a hiking trail and paddle boating.

The homeowners, now empty nesters looking to downsize, moved into the house as their sons were entering high school and raised them there through their teen years and college experiences. 

The couple purchased the property from Bret and Lynn Saberhagen in 2001. Bret was a professional baseball player for the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets and played one year with the Boston Red Sox. 

“Most everyone remembers this as ‘Oh, that’s Saberhagen’s place,’ whereas we remind them that it is now and has been the Sweeneys’ home for 19 years,” Sweeney quips.

Built in 1998, this eye-catching house has eight bedrooms; six are en suite including the master. There are six full bathrooms and three half bathrooms. The traditional-style home embellished with romantic balcony and porch offers a huge eat-in kitchen that was redone with cherry cabinets, new high-end appliances, Miele subzero freezer and refrigerator, Bosch dishwasher, GE Monogram microwave, convection oven and gas stove. There’s a formal dining room and living room as well as a den/family room, office, and amazing gym. 

The Sweeneys have fond memories of the good times they’ve enjoyed while living there.

“Several wedding and engagement parties, multiple birthdays, graduation parties, Fourth of July fireworks; warm summer nights on the patio enjoying sunsets; thunder and lightning storms over the bay; the frozen icicles on the trees after a winter snowstorm,” Sweeney recalls. “And most of all, raising our two sons on the water, fishing for snappers, crabbing, kayaking and sharing great times with family and friends with our backyard BBQs and parties… It is truly a home for making memories.”

While 2012 saw major renovations, the couple notes that over the years, there were too many home improvements to mention. But some big changes included the installation of more than 90 new Andersen windows, WallTech lifetime two-tone exterior painting, painting, and adding 557 feet of docking. Other revamps: the addition of solar panels to heat the pool, the creation of waterfalls, all new LED landscape lighting, new walkways covered with Indiana stone and brick pavers, and a newly paved circular driveway with new gate mechanisms and controls.

Sweeney says he and his family have truly enjoyed everyday life in their marvelous manse, and jokes, “I still have to pinch myself every morning when I get up.”

Contact Tammy Ramsay, Licensed Sales Associate at 516-319-8605.

The Psychology of Renovation: Does Newer and Shinier Equal Happier?

It's important to consider wants vs. needs when planning a home renovation. (Getty Images)

It seems there’s more to remodeling than meets the eye. 

Beyond the desire for a better life, a welcoming and more functional environment, and a higher return on investment, what’s really behind the renovation addiction that has been sweeping the country in recent years?

It’s complicated. But experts agree there’s a strong emotional element that fuels every home improvement decision or for that matter, the decision not to renovate. It’s like the battle of the reno junkies vs. those nostalgic types, who like the familiar and prefer to save their money, only updating as needed — and sometimes even choosing to maintain their home’s original retro vibe.


Krystine Batcho a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, says people have an emotional investment in their homes.

“When a person has some control over their residence, psychologically their home becomes an extension of them,” she says. “More than a collection of things, it’s also the reservoir of some of life’s most important experiences and memories. The table in that kitchen is where people who love one another shared more than food and drink; they shared the joys, successes, disappointments and worries of their lives.” 

Many homeowners seem dissatisfied with the look and functionality of their dwellings. Indeed, a swankier kitchen or bathroom may be breathtakingly transformative. But is it truly warranted? 


Covering up a home’s former self has its plusses and minuses. Like plastic surgery, it should be done for the right reasons. And like a facelift or butt lift, it doesn’t guarantee happiness in the long run. 

“When someone feels stagnant or stuck in their situation, their career, relationship, or their personal growth, they might hope that a major change in their home will be the catalyst to get things moving again,” Batcho explains. “Renos to accommodate changing physical or family needs will be considered successful to the extent that they meet those needs. But the impacts of projects that are inspired by emotional or psychological motives are more complicated.”

For example, a reno that makes a space more conducive to social interaction, or more efficient, freeing up time to spend with others, is more likely to enhance a person’s quality of life, or a new dishwasher that gives a family more time to sit and talk can contribute to healthier relationships.

“Objects do not, in themselves, make people happy,” she says. “Happiness depends more on experiences. How an object is used affects how happy it makes someone.”


A reno motivated by emotional or personal dissatisfaction is less likely to resolve an underlying unhappiness. 

“People expect newer to be better and that remodeling a space will provide the same type of happiness boost as from a newer model of TV or smart phone,” Batcho notes. “If the final result fails to meet expectations, the disappointment can lead to unhappiness and remorse. It’s important to be realistic about what a shiny new space will provide.” 

Babylon Village designer Sandra Asdourian says her clients fall into one of three “emotional” groups.

“The first group wants to mix their existing furnishings with new, keeping some of the furniture they have for an updated look,” she says. “The second wants all-new ‘everything.’ The third has a hard time letting go of something unless it’s broken or unusable … but there are always ways to update, i.e., chairs can be reupholstered, wood furniture refinished or painted.”   


It’s important to be practical. 

“With my clients, the emotional aspect of doing a reno is the desire to update their décor to be in alignment with their lifestyle,” says Asdourian. “But in some cases, the need is there — maybe the wife loves to cook and the kitchen’s layout doesn’t work for her cooking style or comfort. Or, they have a new baby or elderly parent living with them and need an extra bedroom.  

“My goal is to deliver a space they can call home,” she continues. “It’s a place for their family to not only live in harmony but to be filled with great memories. So, if they have an antique piece that was their grandmother’s, we will work it into the design plan. Because it’s not just a house, it’s your home.”

Historic Woodsburgh Estate With Lush Gardens Asks $4.9M

Understated opulence. It’s what defines this classy Woodsburgh jewel. Originally built in 1913, it offers more than 8,000 square feet of luxurious living and entertaining space.

“This one-of-a-kind Woodsburgh Village historical estate has been beautifully maintained for the next generation,” says broker Inbal August of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Roslyn. “The house is situated on almost an acre of spectacularly landscaped grounds, serenely tucked on grounds with lush gardens, yet a few minutes away from town, and an easy commute to Manhattan.”

According to the homeowner, it was built as a traditional Georgian, and retains many of the original details, including floors, moldings, and columns.

The asking price is $4,998,000.

Steeped in history with a unique and notable past, the mansion hearkens back to a gentler time. In the 1800s, access to new railroad stations meant that during the hot summer months, New York’s high society could travel to Long Island to unwind and socialize. Just imagine those sophisticated gents and proper ladies with their bonnets and long dresses enjoying the tranquil atmosphere and fresh air.

“The focal point of this special home is its majestic entry foyer, which has a grand double staircase,” notes August, who also points out that its high ceilings and extremely bright, large rooms — boasting original custom woodwork, floors, banisters and endless oversized windows — were lovingly maintained to honor the home’s rich past.

“And, the exquisite chef’s kitchen, breakfast room, butler’s pantry, formal dining room, along with the sunroom, living room and three powder rooms, create a flowing first floor which is perfect for entertaining,” she adds.

So, come by and view this magnificent 17-room, partially renovated gem, located at 879 Broadway. It offers eight comfortable bedrooms, six full and three half bathrooms, and ample closet space. Amenities include a convenient office space with conference room, a darkroom, walk-in vault, and an almost 3,000-square-foot basement.

The new owners will no doubt enjoy the beautifully appointed, private master wing, which graces a sweeping second floor. Glam features? His and hers separate master bathrooms and spacious walk-in closets, a sitting room, gym, and private balcony overlooking breathtaking grounds.

And there’s more to love: Four additional bedrooms, of which two are en suite, and another full bathroom; the third floor also has one along with three large boudoirs. Outside is a three-car garage and lovely patio.

“Just look at the photos and you’ll see why our home is extraordinary,” says the homeowner, adding, “Though we’re downsizing, we will take with us all wonderful memories and cherish them forever. From fabulous parties, both indoors and outdoors on the grounds for 350-plus people, to cocktails and barbecues, to major family events. We’ve always enjoyed hosting in our most accommodating home for our many guests.”

The family remembered other memorable moments: “What’s a winter dinner without making s’mores in the fireplaces for dessert, grilling outside or luxuriating indoors?”

And, it was easy to instantly create gourmet gastronomic feasts in their huge chef’s kitchen, utilizing state-of-the-art appliances and ample counter space.

With the Woodmere Long Island rail Road station just two blocks away, commuting to the city from Woodsburgh is simple, and there’s no need for a station car. Also, the Woodmere Club golf course is nearby.

“Walking the dog involves much window shopping and retail therapy, with no need to worry about the storage space for all those purchases,” according to the homeowner, who adds, “My wish for the next family will be to live as wonderful a life here as we did!”

For more information, contact Inbal August, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker at 917-957-8111/ 516-629-2219 or Inbal.August@elliman.com.

Historic Centerport Victorian With Water Views Asks $2.9M

In the market for a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1897?  

Consider this storybook stunner located at 17 Idle Day Drive in Centerport, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in New York State. 

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to own one of the most admired waterfront properties overlooking Northport Harbor,” says broker Elena D’Agostino of Lucky to Live Here Realty in Cold Spring Harbor, calling it “a rare find.”

Amenities include a professional eat-in kitchen with radiant heat stone flooring and river rock tiling with radiant heat in the powder room, a backyard oasis with bluestone patio, saltwater pool with waterfall, built-in barbeque, fire pit, basketball court, built-in speakers, a wine cellar, plus much more.

And who can resist sunrise water views?

Selling for $2,989,000, this enchanting property borders the Vanderbilt Estate to the north and sits on a rolling terraced lawn that slopes down to an extensive waterfront. Stone steps were designed to make the walk to the beach and the new sea wall more accessible, to facilitate boating and kayaking. 

“We have felt truly privileged to live in this stunning home,” says current homeowner Tanya Dworjanyn. “We have spent countless hours on the porch overlooking the harbor on beautiful, sunny days. 

“In the early mornings the fishermen head out for their daily catch and the kayakers and paddleboard riders drift by,” she continues. “Throughout the day we see boats of all sizes coming and going through the channel, along with one of our favorite sights — the tiny sailboats strung together and used by the sailing school at Centerport Yacht Club.”

She adds: “We have hosted many, many beautiful events on our porch, from multiple ladies-only cocktail parties to graduation parties to July 4th extravaganzas.”

The shingle-style house with three-story octagonal corner tower was originally built in the late 1800s by Charles Van Iderstine, one of the sons of Peter Van Iderstine, known as the “fat and tallow king,” according to the homeowner.

“Peter’s and William’s (Charles’ brother) homes were both built in the same vicinity but were burned to the ground,” the homeowner says. “Charles’ home [hers] is the only one remaining.”

This six-bedroom, six-bathroom manse (with an en suite master), enjoyed a total kitchen/mudroom/laundry room/powder room renovation in 2008. Additional living space was added to the kitchen. 

Designed by Glen Grayson of Hoffman Grayson Architects LLP, the expanded space embraces views to the north, west, and east, bringing in an abundance of light, and water views that were previously unavailable, according to Dworjanyn. A central feature of this kitchen/great room area is a large stone fireplace, modeled after a 19th century French farmhouse fireplace the architect had visited. Stone elements were quarried in China and bush hammered locally to create this warm central hearth. 

During the reno, the kitchen was also connected to the front of the house via a “kissing stairway” landing, allowing direct access to the front porch and water. The architects also designed the custom stained-glass doors leading to the dining room. 

Cool kitchen features include a professional stainless steel 48-inch Dacor Range, double ovens and double Sub-Zero refrigerators, and a copper farm sink with a second large stainless sink in the island. The cabinets were custom built by Joe Brittman & Son, Northport, and are double height to take advantage of the 10-foot ceilings. And two large skylights were added.

“The kitchen was conceived to be organized around specific functional spaces,” Dworjanyn explains. “Of particular interest is a baking center, complete with custom drawers and cabinets. To accommodate the needs of a busy family, the cabinetry takes advantage of every nook and cranny to keep life organized with minimum clutter. 

“A functional drop zone was created next to a new side entry, to bring 21st century functionality to this 19th century home,” she continues. “The architect included a generous area for desk space, filing, and cookbooks.”

Outside renovations included rebuilding the mahogany wraparound porch, which overlooks a large double lagoon pool nestled into the hill, allowing unobstructed views of Northport Harbor, Asharoken, and Long Island Sound.

From the upper part of the outdoor kitchen, the view from the grill looks over toward the Northport Yacht Club and south toward Northport Village Dock.  

“Every renovation was completed with careful deliberation, using quality materials, to remain in keeping with the home’s character and history,” says Dworjanyn. “We feel that we are caretakers of the property, as much as we are owners.   

“Living in this home has been the dream of a lifetime, a truly incomparable experience,” she adds. “We feel honored to have owned and loved a piece of Centerport history, and hope that as it passes on to the next buyers, it brings them as much happiness as it has brought to our family.”

For more information, contact Elena M. D’Agostino and Joyce E. Mennella, Licensed Real Estate Brokers at 631-692-7100 or team@luckytolivehere.com.

Unexpected Design Elements Making Bold Statements

Forward-thinking, progressive design diva Robyn Baumgarten of Interiors By Just Design, has a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to incorporating bold and unexpected design elements into her renos. Check out this jaw-dropping kitchen re-dos that got a big thumbs-up from her delighted clients.

While the wow factor is important, Baumgarten says, “You shouldn’t overdo it. I tell clients who ask for amazing this and that, that sometimes, if too much of everything is amazing then nothing is amazing.” 

In any inside job, bold doesn’t have to mean over-the-top. Using the right colors here and there – on walls, with accent furnishings and accessories, and kitchen cabinets – is one way to make a bold statement. 

For added drama, darker colors are another way to go. It all depends on the space.

After gutting a boring, all-white kitchen, the design pro re-imagined an eye-catching, transitional/updated industrial-style, multi-purpose area that was perfect for her 50-plus clients, a Melville couple who loved entertaining. And it had to be super functional because the wife’s passion was cooking. Here, Baumgarten makes a bold statement with her choice of striking black cabinets, special lighting, subway tiles, and more.

A trendy black faucet with gold tone along with a farm sink (both from Fancy Fixtures in Woodbury) completes this interesting design story. These unusual elements create a personalized look that instantly elevates the space, taking it from a typical condo kitchen to va-va-voom.

And during a much-needed reno in Plainview, Baumgarten surprised the homeowners by adding a blue tile backsplash in the kitchen over the stove.

“It added a pop of color and played off of the blue accents throughout their home,” she says.

“I don’t like to do typical,” she says. “I like to give my clients timeless, classic and a bit of a wow factor. And, I know how to put it all together cohesively for an understated look,” she adds.

Interiors By Just Design interiorsbyjustdesign.com 631-680-9691

Adding Value To Your Home In Unexpected Places

Reno fever has been spreading like wildfire across Long Island, but all kitchen and bathroom transformations aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

Remodeling has become a national pastime. In 2015 alone, Americans spent $326.1 billion on renovating, according to Curbed. 

“Your home is an investment, but it’s so much more than that,” says Zillow Lifestyle Expert Amanda Pendleton. “Put your time and money into projects that give you a home you and your family can enjoy and you’re proud of, but recognize that if you’re fixing up your home to appeal to potential buyers, go for changes that have broad appeal and that make an impact.”

Many homeowners are looking for ways to transform their dwelling. But are major renos that end up costing a pretty penny necessary? 

While kitchens and bathrooms may be numero uno, reno-wise, as it turns out, they’re not all that, value-wise. Unexpected spaces that have lots of potential and are just waiting to be discovered can be cool options. And they cost less to transform.

“At any price point, kitchen renovations are among the worst return on investment of the home improvements Zillow studied (Zillow Talk), at about 50 cents on the dollar,” Pendleton says. “You could spend $30,000 renovating a kitchen only to turn off some potential buyers who would have done it differently.”

When reimagining a space, consider whether changing it will enhance its functionality and affect the home’s value. Pendleton points out that creating a family room not only adds square footage and usable living space, but it suddenly opens up your home to a whole new set of buyers — the largest set of new home buyers in the market right now — millennials (42 percent of all buyers).

“Family rooms also don’t typically have a lot of custom features or personalization that could turn off potential buyers, like a kitchen could,” she adds. “Nationally, the median cost of a family room addition is $10,000, which is a relatively low investment for a highly desirable space and a larger footprint.”

Another option: new windows that save money on heating/cooling bills and signal to a potential buyer that this home has been well cared for. 

“But don’t go overboard,” she warns. “Investing in a stained-glass fresco is not going to increase the value of your home at the same rate.” 

Don’t forget about the garage. 

“Garage conversions are a great way to add living space to your home,” says Project Coordinator Evan Lewitas of Center Island Contracting, Inc. in Farmingdale. “As the space is both aboveground and already constructed, it is typically an inexpensive addition.” 

His tip: Many families utilize a one-car garage for creating an additional bedroom and/or bathroom, or, create a hotel-room sized suite with cabinets, a sink, and minifridge (in a two-car garage). Carpeting or laminate flooring are commonly used.

“In many cases, this newfound bedroom is great for an older relative moving in, or a child returning from college, or a caretaker,” he notes.

Need extra storage for coats, accessories, household stuff, vacuums, and more? Though not glamorous, mudrooms are au courant, and can add a little value as well. Some designer mudrooms include custom cubbies and closets for storage

“Another [unexpected] feature that buyers are loving are chalk walls in the playrooms or children’s bedrooms,”  says Melanie Mazzeo of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Huntington. “I have seen them in kitchens too.” 

But very specific tastes and customizations decrease value, Mazzeo warns. 

“I have sold homes with murals painted on walls, which has taken away value because it is specific to the seller and does not appeal to new buyers.” 

Scott McGillivray, HGTV Canada’s real estate expert, suggests: If it’s in the budget, put in custom storage and heated tile floors in a mudroom.

Additional tips:

For living rooms: Hardwood floors, large windows and practical built-in bookcases, cabinetry can help add value. 

For dining rooms: Simple, inexpensive architectural details, like a chair rail, will help. Also, recessed lighting combined with a center fixture, and nice flooring.

Homeowners are discovering that all these surprising places can become stylish, functional spaces. While it’s hard to measure return on investment, they do add some value while enhancing a family’s enjoyment factor. And isn’t that what truly matters?

Waterfront Centre Island Dwelling Perfect for Nature Buffs

Most Long Island homes don’t offer views of the Great Meadow, a natural habitat for many bird species and specimen trees. But this modern, one-of-a-kind, estate-style residence does, and it’s perfect for nature lovers.

A captivating waterfront property set in the Eastover subdivision of Centre Island — a 605-acre peninsula with more than four miles of coastline, bordered by Cold Spring Harbor and Oyster Bay Harbor — the dwelling is part of a homeowner’s association, which includes rights to a secluded sandy beach overlooking Lloyd Neck. Residents enjoy great year-round water views along with dining and shopping options at nearby restaurants and quaint stores.

“The house and property are truly unique,” says Associate Real Estate Broker Carol A. Cotton of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Locust Valley. “The house is an extraordinary example of mid-century architecture and is sited on almost 20 acres of magnificent inlet waterfront that leads to Long Island Sound with fields of specimen trees [including hickory and red oak] and plantings, offering a peaceful refuge from the outside world.”

“The seasonal water views are magical,” she adds.

Architect and former homeowner John Mooney, who worked with renowned architect Alfred Easton Poor, designed the estate, which is also named Great Meadow, for his own growing family. It was completed in 1965.

This 14-room, two-story home with soaring ceilings is characterized by a master plan that encourages connection with the unspoiled sanctuary of nature.

Cotton points to the home’s celebrated mid-century modern design elements incorporated into the façade, and notes that the house is composed of poured concrete, brick and glass, and topped by a lead-coated copper roof.

Thanks to the homeowner’s thoughtful design plan, the first-floor formal living and formal dining rooms offer floor-to-ceiling French doors overlooking Great Meadow Creek. Wrapped in handsome wood paneling, the library also features floor-to-ceiling French doors that invite views of the outdoors. All three rooms have wood-burning fireplaces, perfect for chilly winter nights, as well as herringbone-patterned Brazilian rosewood floors. 

Each of the first-level rooms are unified in design with waffle ceilings (made of concrete that has been poured into square forms) and each repetitive square has a light fixture that reflects light up to the ceiling, so when illuminated, the rooms glow with soft light that casts no shadows, Cotton points out. 

“This unique element is continued outdoors to the broad overhang that surrounds the home, architecturally blurring the lines between the indoors and outdoors,” she explains.

The second floor has an atrium landing offering wonderful views of Great Meadow, with changing seasonal views that captivate. And the master suite, with wood-burning fireplace and spa bath, has access to balconies with even more views of Long Island Sound, Lloyd Harbor and beyond. Six additional bedrooms and four full baths comprise the second level. In addition, the home offers an inviting eat-in kitchen with pantry, as well as a comfortable porch designed for total relaxation, and detached garage. 

With approximately 6,600 interior square feet of luxury surrounded by nature, the property, which includes the possibility to being subdivided, offers so much beauty and functionality for just $6,000,000. 

The real estate agents listed for the property are Vera J. Wiedenhaefer and Carol A. Cotton of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. Wiedenhaefer can be reached at 516-662-2500 and Cotton at 516-359-7946.  

Photos by Kevin Wohlers & Carol A. Cotton

Bringing Spaces Back To Life With Green Walls and Vertical Gardens

Every month should be Earth Month.

As more people realize how sacred the environment truly is, some are choosing to bring nature into their homes with aesthetically pleasing living green walls or vertical gardens that add wellness and beauty while energizing interior and exterior spaces.  

The trend towards greening built environments and transforming rooms or outdoor areas with lush accent walls made of plants or artistic living murals is growing. Since plants are natural air purifiers as well as mood, creativity, and productivity boosters, the benefits of having a living wall at home or in a workspace are obvious.

“Green walls have been designed in many forms — with soil, hydroponics (lacking soil), air plants, or some combination — to create their green designs,” says Stevie Famulari, a green design specialist and professor in the department of urban horticulture and design at Farmingdale State College. “Living walls, living murals, or living sculptures can be created for any site.”  

On Long Island, green walls are usually installed in public spaces. But homeowners can also transform patios or backyards into relaxing retreats with a unique vertical greenscape that fuses elegant form with amazing function.

The New York City-based green design experts at Urbanstrong have been creating healthy, sustainable and captivating spaces everywhere, and are available for home projects locally. Their team built an eye-catching living wall at 1 Third Avenue in Mineola in the lobby of a luxury apartment building.

Famulari offers living design ideas that anyone can use in her new book due out later this year, Green Up!  Sustainable Design Solutions for Healthier Work and Living Environments.

“In design, what I enjoy is telling a changing story in the works, based on the site: its materials, lighting, people, scale, use, etc,” she says. “The story is also based on time and change. Plants show time and change in unexpected, beautiful ways, creating moments of sheer amazement and beauty that are wondrous.”

For exterior design, Famulari recommends using plants that are appropriate for the light, drainage, and location. The same applies for interiors, with just a different set of plants.  

“The applications are endless: small/large scale; flat and 3-D; low/high light, natural sunlight, artificial light; office, house, apartments; exteriors…everything is possible,” she adds. “Be creative and the green design solutions will come.”

Maintenance is taken into account when developing the design.

“Early maintenance — the first year — is the most extensive,” she says. “The second year is easier and less. And by the third year, usually everything is figured out and it is merely yearly maintenance of the pumps, lights, structure and plants.”

With lots of TLC most green walls can last indefinitely. Famulari points out that some of her early designs are still growing today.  

“For exterior walls, though some plants may be flowering or leafing seasonally, they are still designed to last for an extended amount of years,” she says.

“Plants allow healing, mental soothing, and easier breathing,” she continues. “And something to grow in front of you with visible change in a time frame. That reminds us that all things change and heal and can be wondrous.”