In 2013, when Nick Gavin was still a bachelor, he found a one-bedroom, 1,700-square-foot cottage on Shelter Island that seemed like an ideal personal retreat. The previous owner, Melvin Dwork, a New York interior designer, had created a casually stylish interior with pine-paneled cathedral ceilings and a floor made of lagoon-green ceramic tiles that appealed to the now 39-year-old real estate agent Gavin at Compass in New York.
“It was really a big, open attic with 15-foot ceilings,” he said. “There were no walls.”
Aside from adding a pool to the yard, he saw no need to change anything. When another buyer made a competing bid for the house, Mr. Gavin met with Mr. Dwork to reassure the designer that he intended to keep what Mr. Dwork had created.
That meeting helped, Mr. Gavin said, and Mr. Dwork, who passed away in 2016, sold him the house for $ 675,000. But life can be unpredictable. Shortly before it closed, Mr. Gavin’s solo existence began to change when he met Katrin Thormann, now 33, a model he married in 2019.
Recognition…Sally N. MacNichol
When they met, it wasn’t long before Frau Thormann recognized the appeal of the house. “It was so fun,” she said. “We just put our mattress in front of the fireplace and spent so much time there.”
After the couple had a daughter, Greta, in November 2016, they realized that falling on a mattress in front of the fireplace couldn’t be a permanent arrangement and that having more than one bedroom can help.
About a year later, they hired design firm Workstead to create an extension that would include a new primary suite and make selective updates to the rest of the house, including dividing the old primary bedroom into two rooms: one for Greta and one for overnight guests .
“Nick was just really in love with the house,” said Ryan Mahoney, Workstead director. “They also had a lot of respect for Melvin, so they wanted to treat what was there with a lot of respect.”
Workstead designed a 620-square-meter extension that was inspired by the original structure, but contrasted with it by a glass-walled breeze path. For plenty of sunshine, the designers added four pairs of French doors and tall windows to the new structure and divided the bathroom into separate corners with a vanity, shower and bathtub, all connected by a central corridor. They also repeated details of the original structure, including the pine-paneled cathedral ceiling in the living room and interior shutters.
To expand the kitchen – once just a compact countertop with a small under the counter refrigerator – and make room for full-size appliances, they took space from an adjoining bathroom and converted it into a powder room. To create new cabinets that looked old, they specified painted, rough-hewn pine doors.
“We basically gutted the kitchen but replaced it with something very similar,” Mahoney said.
Outside, they installed a new cedar shingle roof and replaced the old siding with new material. They also copied an existing custom cedar wall sconce to make more outdoor lighting fixtures and added some conical copper lights by Arne Jacobsen that develop a patina over time, just like the wood.
Geoffrey Nimmer, a landscape architect, added new decks and lawns to blend the structure into the landscape, with the goal of making the entire extended home look like one cohesive unit.
To finish the interior, Mr. Gavin and Ms. Thormann pulled a collection of furniture, accessories, and art into the house and mixed pieces they owned with suggestions from Workstead. Her favorites include a vintage dining table by Pierre Chapo, which Mr Gavin said sets the tone for a lot of other furniture, and a precious painting by Ron Gorchov that hangs over the fireplace in her new bedroom.
They also installed a pair of antique diamond-shaped black lacquered wooden slats that Mr. Dwork had long ago installed over the living room windows and left with the house.
Construction work for the extension and renovation began in February 2019 and took a little over a year. The cost was approximately $ 850,000. With the final repairs to the hit list completed, the family moved in for an extended stay when the pandemic hit New York in March.
“It was really a game changer for us,” said Gavin. “Katrin and I carried out this project as a quiet retreat outside the city, as a weekend home and summer home.”
But the moment it was completed it became a full-time home for six months, he said, and the couple learned to appreciate their updated home and neighborhood even more.
“We asked ourselves whether we might be able to live out there and register our daughter for school there because we love it so much,” said Ms. Thormann.
Now that they’re back in Manhattan, they plan to return to the house as often as possible during all four seasons. Ms. Thormann said that it is an obligation that will certainly continue after the pandemic: “Especially now that we have additional bedrooms and can bring family and friends with us.”
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