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Real Estate: Not just another seaside cottage
Kika Schoenfeld didn’t have to think long or hard when designing her dream home overlooking Long Island Sound in Peconic.
She only had one condition for the kitchen, and it didn’t involve installing granite countertops or picking out stainless steel appliances.
Ms. Schoenfeld, 67, an interior designer and hat maker, just wanted the kitchen located in a specific spot — with several windows positioned just so — to capture the morning sunlight. Some of her other specifications for the house were for more double-pane windows, lots of exterior doors and a bedroom balcony, important design elements meant to grant her access to the outside within a moment’s notice.
“I wanted it to blend in and look as if it had always been here,” Ms. Schoenfeld said of her home, which she had built from the ground up. “I wanted to have the combined sense of the traditional with the ease of the modern.”
And she isn’t the only person who admires the new two-story Cape Cod cottage.
When The New York Times Magazine asked, “If you could have anyone’s house, whose would it be?” Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport answered wholeheartedly that he liked Ms. Schoen-feld’s home best because it “is stylish without trying too hard.”
“When you get there, you just feel like exhaling — you feel you are on the edge of the continent,” Mr. Rapoport said.
Ms. Schoenfeld, who was born in Israel and has lived in Manhattan for most of her life, said she first came across a house on Salt Marsh Lane after searching for “seaside waterfront properties” on the Internet.
“I wanted to be at the end of a dirt road that was off another dirt road if I possibly could,” she said. “I wanted to be on the edge of the water at the end of the world.”
When visitors come to Ms. Schoenfeld’s house, which is secluded in a wooded area recently acquired for open space preservation by the Peconic Land Trust, they’re greeted by the sound of waves crashing on the beach below the bluff.
Inside, Ms. Schoenfeld decided to paint the walls off-white because she tends to easily grow tired of interior colors. When family members visit they like to prowl through local thrift shops and items they purchase are placed throughout the house, along with small groupings of rocks found on the beach.
Comfort, said Ms. Schoenfeld, wearing a hoodie and slippers, is also an important part of her life. The couches and beds are bright and soft.
Although she doesn’t have a dog due to allergies, images and statues of man’s best friend are scattered throughout the living room. Ms. Schoenfeld said she uses them to play a counting game with her 4-year-old granddaughter.
“I move them around before she comes over and I ask her to count how many dogs are in the room,” she said. “Then we snuggle on the couch.”
Ms. Schoenfeld said she fell in love with the location immediately, but disliked the “ugly vinyl” of the old house and decided to tear it down and create a new layout. The house she had torn down had replaced one that had been destroyed during the 1938 hurricane, she said.
“I knew I absolutely wanted to be on the open water,” Ms. Schoenfeld said. “Not a creek. Not a river. I wanted big water. Big sky.”
She also wanted to have the original fireplace, located toward the edge of the bluff, moved into her new home, but said the builders just laughed at her request. Ms. Schoenfeld then had a replica made and painted it white. Slate slabs in the backyard mark where the fireplace had once been. She has since placed a simple bench there — the prime seat to watch a sunset.
“I didn’t know I had a beautiful sunset until after I bought the house,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”
Her advice to others looking to create a similarly tranquil atmosphere is pretty basic.
“Open up the space as much as possible,” she said. “Turn windows into doors and never use curtains.”