The Cool House: property
Showing posts with label property. Show all posts
Showing posts with label property. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Landscaping or revealing the Cool House

Yard after landscaping
Those Cool House readers who follow me on instagram, Facebook or the twitters will be aware that the past month has involved a lot of heavy work around the yard. Six months after the big tree came down we lost a couple of large branches of the plum tree in the front. This was a sad and a shock but it did open up the view to the south west. We saw dogwoods beginning to bloom, pretty specimens that we hadn't appreciated before. We also noticed how forlorn and frankly tatty the border in front of the kitchen patio had become.  The Guy spoke to the landscaper and before I knew what was happening they had decided to demolish half the front yard.

Front yard after landscaping

I had my own issues with the landscaping but they were round the back. I'd never felt the bridge fitted in with the architecture of the house, and although we'd had it mended three times it was again in serious need of repair and I was ready to see it gone. I also hated the mess of a pool and collection of debris that ran along the dry bed that was supposed to be a gentle bubbling waterfall and stream. If the front yard was getting a facelift I was determined the back would have a boost, too.

Backyard after landscaping
The process was not without out its challenges. You cannot imagine my face when I realized that I'd be without a privacy screen of plants for at least two weeks. Staring at soil is not at all therapeutic, plus most of the work was done in sweltering temperatures. The removal of the old barbecue base involved some serious power tools and moving the stones atop the waterfall drew blood from at least one landscaper. But at last it was done, the new lawn grew, the plants-mostly hollies, azaleas and rhododendrons-went in and the sprinkler guys added new zones so everything would be happily watered and ready to grow.

Yard before
Let's look at where we were a month or so ago . Above is a collection of photos taken in the yard over the past 12 years. Below is the front yard on demolition day. The house was hidden and lots of  trees had passed their best. At least one was completely fried. Although I lost some of the layers of privacy in the short term, in the long term we gained so much more.

Yard awaiting demolition
Of course the greatest benefit of all this yard renovation is that we can now appreciate the
unique Andrew Geller architecture of the house.  Remembering what it was like when we first viewed the house in 2003, when there were so many trees enclosing the house that we thought we had been misled by the realtor's flyer, it's a completely different reality.  Now the house can shine in all its glory, for us and every passer-by to enjoy.  This little video below encompasses how I feel now I can relax and kick back, reveling in this glorious Indian summer in the yard. Total and absolute bliss.

Friday, September 18, 2015


We are in mourning today for a part of the landscape, for what the tree surgeon described in April as the best tree in the Incorporated Village and for the core of our view every day for the past eleven years. When we moved in to the Cool House the previous owner explained the house's unusual design was conceived in part around this enormous mountain spruce tree in the front yard. Its beautiful fringed, dark green arms seemed to offer our home an enveloping hug, protecting it from the harsh Long Island winters, providing shade from the relentless summer sun. Each morning we have stood in front of the kitchen windows, sipping coffee, watching the birds and squirrels among the branches, marveling at its magnificence.

We took every opportunity of good weather in Spring, Summer and Fall to enjoy lunch al fresco on the patio beneath its branches until, sometime after the Fourth of July celebrations, we noticed the needles on the bottom branches were falling off, even though they were still green. Over the course of the next couple of weeks the phenomenon worsened. We googled, consulted the landscape and the tree experts and came up with a diagnosis of severe needle drop. We crossed our fingers and hoped it would be a temporary problem but the needle drop persisted, leaving only brown fronds; some days it seemed as though it was raining pine needles. 

While we still had tiny, green pinecones on the ends of the branches we could still hope for a recovery but when these too started falling and the branches turned brown and bare farther and farther up the tree we knew we were facing a dying tree. By mid-September it was all over. Even the uppermost tip was dry and the ground beneath covered in a couple of inches or more of desiccated needles.

For the last month we haven't been able to sit outside on the patio, everything has been covered in pine needles. We couldn't bear to drink our coffee looking at the tree, it was too depressing, and most telling, the birds and squirrels abandoned it. Finally, we knew it could no longer be saved and made a called the tree guys to remove it. Today they spent 8 hours taking down its 150' skeletal remains. 

I'm trying to look on the bright side, the west facing rooms will have more light, the front lawn will have less stress, we can replant the dell but all I can see is negative space, a pivotal part of the landscape gone. It's still a shock that it happened so quickly: two months from the first sign to complete failure. All that remains is a stump, a truck load of wood chips and an aching heart. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

We got tagged

Living out in the alternate universe of the Incorporated Village doesn't mean you don't have to suffer spray-painted graffiti all over your property.

It just means you know exactly who the perpetrators were. Thank you Suffolk Water.

And if you have two water meters in the yard, one for your house and one for the house next door, that you are "tagged" twice.
I'm luckier than one neighbor, whose beautiful moss stone retaining wall now has an accent of bright blue!
File under: Grrrrr.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How $$$$$ much?

Here's a little segment I'll be calling "You have to be freakin' kidding me", subtitled "Denial: How some sellers are bucking the downturn in the housing market".
This pretty gatehouse went on the market this week. It's an "exclusive" which I've learnt means "Anyone else would be embarrassed to ask this much for this house, so let's keep it our little secret". People who really want to sell list their houses on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of Long Island so they can reach as many potential buyers as possible.
So anyway, it's gorgeous, but is it $3,000,000 gorgeous? $3,000,000 is a staggering amount for a house that is on a busy road. Right on the road- you can see it in the photo. It is technically a waterfront property but you have to dodge the traffic on that road to get to the water. And there's a lot of inventory in the Village right now. Although it isn't the most expensive or even the most ridiculously priced, the square footage per dollar ratio is pretty high. Zillow has it valued at $1,053,332, although their values don't necessarily sync with the real estate prices here. I mustn't forget either that the real estate market is local and the value of any house is what the buyer pays for it. So maybe while other sellers are dropping the asking price, this one is correctly positioned to attract buyers. Good Luck to them. I'll let you know if it sells.
And I have to give them props for going for the straight $3 million. None of that messing people around with a faux-bargain $2,999,000. Kudos.