August 24, 2017
An Island Idyll on Shelter Island is Full of Nautical Charm
A 1924 Sears Kit House is Chock-Full of Nautical Chic, Celebrating the Halcyon Days of Summer.
by Nicole Haddad photographer Costas Picadas
WHEN MARA AND DAN HOCHMAN saw their 1924 Sears kit house on sunny Shelter Island, they knew they had to have it. The nostalgia of the home evoked a simpler time, when families gathered to listen to the radio, and an outing to the movies was an event to be treasured.
The well-scaled, spacious four-bedroom home—one of a few sought after Sears kit homes left on Shelter Island—is nestled in the Silver Beach community. It is a throwback to an era when you could order a house from a catalog and receive it in the mail—or in this case by railroad, and then by ferry—complete with an instruction book for a carpenter to put together. It also serves as a harbinger of the modern prefab eco-houses on the market now. "Our house is a beautiful getaway," says Mara Hochman. "It is close to the Hamptons, close to wine country, and it sits in the perfect spot—we see the sun come up, the sun set, and the light of the moon over the bay is spectacular."
The Hochmans purchased the home in 1992, with a layout that was already close to perfect for a couple with a son on the way and room to grow. When you walk in, a foyer leads straight into an expansive shared living and dining space, with two roomy bedrooms to the right and a bathroom in the middle. To the left of the foyer sits the kitchen, which also connects to the living space. Two large bedrooms upstairs and a bright, luxurious bath overlooking the bay complete the space.
To take advantage of the Peconic Bay views, the couple set about renovating the space to reflect the surroundings while still keeping the integrity and character of the old house. "These houses weren't built with specific site settings in mind," says Dan Hochman, "so we enlarged the waterfront French doors and built dormers in the upstairs bedrooms to take in the wonderful bay views."
To keep the seaside cottage-like feel, the Hochmans decorated the house with antique signs, old glass bottles, sea glass in jars and bowls throughout, and stacked soda pop boxes. They also installed a 12-by-12 checkered linoleum floor in the kitchen. "We have a certain 1920s/1930s look that we love," says Mara. "It's our hobby to hunt for the house." The old ship lamps, industrial pendants, as well as the buoys decorating the outdoor shower reflect Dan Hochman's penchant for maritime designs, which happen to go perfectly with the yearly white painted floors, found and made pine furniture, and the breakfast table nook and coffee sign original to the house—the former of which they painted a cheerful turquoise color perfect for island life. It is a home that refects that halcyon days of summer, bringing them fully into the present.
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