North Fork Chapter 1
As I mentioned in my North Fork prologue, there were lots of things that were right about our weekend home. We spent many weekends and weeks there throughout the years – entertaining, hosting family and friends, visiting the beach, riding bikes, swimming – in complete relax mode. My ten-year old daughter would say chillaxing - which is the perfect term for our time on the North Fork of Long Island. Much of our time was spent outdoors, and when we were inside, we basically ignored the interior. (A tough thing for a designer to do.) But there were some serious design, décor, and layout issues that were always in the background, and no amount of moving the furniture around or purchasing new items was going to significantly change these issues. Additionally, after 7 years of doing almost nothing to the space – we didn’t even paint when we moved in – the need for repairs was starting to add up.
Here are just a few highlights of what was wrong -- or “challenging” about the space. You’ll see that we furnished the space with an almost blind eye to design. Only a bare minimum of furniture was in place – moved from old apartments, purchased over a weekend from immediate delivery/clearance options at furniture outlets and Ikea; there were even pieces left from the previous owners.
Living Room Layout and Circulation
Where to begin…? The Living Room fireplace was a significant focal point but also served as the wall forming the circulation between the two main bedroom wings – both of which were immediately off of the entry hall. The few times we had a fire, we would pull floor pillows around.
The Living Room was fairly large and long. The top end was anchored by the bedrooms and fireplace and the bottom was anchored by a dining room, but the placement of windows and circulation across the house (from bedroom to dining room/kitchen) meant the logical seating area was squished into a corner.
Views and a Disconnect to the Outdoors
We had a beautiful plot of land and loved our time in the yard, on our deck, or in the pool. About two-thirds of our property - including the pool area, the kids’ tree fort, and our favorite ball playing area - is situated on the western portion of our property. The only views of this space were from small windows in our bathrooms and bedrooms. The living room and kitchen views were of our very large driveway.
We had renovated our deck and screened porch, but were required to basically leave these in the same location where they had been placed by a previous owner. We used the deck frequently, but the screened porch had no connection to the kitchen or dining area, so whenever we had outdoor dinners (a pretty great thing in summer time!), we would travel quite a distance from our kitchen, through the dining room, and through the living room (with its off-white carpet) to reach the porch.
Did We Really Need a Dining Room?
The dining room was nicely connected to the kitchen and the deck with the gas grill, but most of our smaller family meals were taken in the kitchen. We did use the dining room quite a bit for entertaining, but always said, “If it was easier to use the screened porch, we’d rather be there.”
Overall Less Than Great Fixtures and Furnishings
As mentioned before, the furnishings were either blah, mismatched, misplaced, or limited in usefulness. The wall-to-wall oatmeal carpet was surprisingly functional, but not our style and definitely showing wear. The fireplace doors, built-in lighting, and trim throughout required some serious updating. The kitchen cabinets were generally in good shape, but a few pieces needed to be replaced due to rot, the appliances required upgrading, and the wood and dark counters resulted in a fairly dark kitchen.
The bathrooms needed some serious upgrades. The fixtures were extremely old and of not great quality. Frequent leaks were becoming more frequent and intense. The guest bath was depressing. The two main bathrooms had square footprints with a diamond shaped tub that was really uncomfortable and of a style I’ve only seen referenced in outdated interior design texts. There was no powder room for guests.
All of these items led to us ponder and stew all of the options. A renovation was the easiest answer. We needed to determine the scope of work – small, medium, or large? To expand or not? And was there an option that would stay true to the location and original style of the home – essentially a modified ranch house – while also connecting us to the outside that was such an essential element of why we purchased a weekend home in the first place?
Stay tuned, comment and please feel free to ask questions!