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Real Estate: A fixer-upper transformed into secluded waterfront paradise


Driving up the long blue gravel driveway at Nancy and Francis Deegan’s Mattituck home gives the sense of entering a fairy tale garden. 

The roadway is lined with trees and flowers — ferns, impatiens, tiger lilies and other fauna that thrive in shade — leading up to the Deegans’ waterfront home, where their 4-year-old golden retriever, Ridge, bounds out the front door to greet guests.

The light-blue wood-shingled home is 35 feet above Mattituck Inlet, and winding white wood stairs lead to the couple’s dock, which they added soon after purchasing the “fixer upper” home in 1985.

Ms. Deegan said she’s always loved gardening, which is clear from the property’s six gardens, but didn’t have the opportunity to do much of it until she and her husband moved east from Sea Cliff. The house was a originally weekend home, but within a few years the couple moved to Mattituck full-time.

“I knew this was a waterfront property and I liked the seclusion of it,” Ms. Deegan said. “When we first visited I said, ‘This is it.’<\!q>”

One of the most notable aspects of the 2,800-square-foot home, which they’ve nearly doubled in size over the past 30 years, is the “walk-around house” floor plan, where every room on the first floor is connected in a circle. The second floor has a loft style, where a peek over the railings provides a glimpse to the rooms below.

The front door leads into the sunroom — nearly 80 percent of the walls are windows, granting breathtaking views of the inlet — where one might notice a few paw prints in a couple of slabs of the Mexican tile decorating the floor.

“They’re prints from Mexican dogs,” Ms. Deegan said. “When the guy put it down he says, ‘I have a couple of these with paw prints. Do you want me to use them?’ I said, ‘Absolutely!’ ”

The view from Ms. Deegan's second-floor office as Mr. Deegen relaxes in the living room. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
The view from Ms. Deegan’s second-floor office as Mr. Deegan relaxes in the living room. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

To the left is the kitchen, which was originally three small rooms. The Deegans knocked the walls down to create a 20-by-20-foot space that features original wood flooring and a large glass window with a view into the garden room beyond.

“There was a bar in Bayville that had all these kinds of glass [windows] all around … and they were demolishing this bar and these things were in the gutter,” she said of the window that is now a main feature in her kitchen. “They were throwing them out … There were like 10 of them, but most of them were broken, so I took this one.”

Like the sunroom, the garden room is painted a soft turquoise but it’s more dimly lit, with fewer windows, and leads to the “red garden” off to the front right side of the house, often also called the “fern garden” because of all the ferns in that area, Ms. Deegan said.

The couple named their gardens and patios, of which the property boasts about a dozen, based on their distinct individual features. The “red garden” also contains red patio furniture.

“We keep trying to utilize different venues,” she said.

To the back off the kitchen is the deck, which the couple expanded over time. It provides a perfect view of the inlet, especially from the “overlook deck” — a small circular portion that rises above the main deck and allows people to view nearly the entire inlet.

Ms. Deegan found this leaded glass window in the trash in Bayport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Ms. Deegan found this leaded glass window in the trash in Bayport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The main deck is filled with small American flags and numerous varieties of flowers grow in pots and in flower beds that are built into the deck’s railing.

Back inside, the last room to complete the first-floor circle is the living room. Its white brick fireplace is original to the home, which Ms. Deegan estimates is around 70 years old.

One wall contains a bookshelf and the other features windows that face the inlet, similar to the sunroom. There’s also a grand piano in the corner that Ms. Deegan, who has served as a musical director for North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, often plays. These combine to create the perfect serene waterfront atmosphere.

The lofted second floor features a TV room, office, Jacuzzi, the home’s only bedroom and the “summer porch.” The latter is Mr. Deegan’s favorite part of the house.

Ms. Deegan, however, had a harder time choosing one spot she enjoyed the most.

“Everywhere,” she said when if she had a favorite. “I mean it’s beautiful here on a rainy day. Or on a foggy day, or in the snow. It’s just really nice here.”

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