Steve & Rhea’s Renovated Fisherman’s Cottage

updated Feb 4, 2019
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Name: Steve Schappacher & Rhea White of SchappacherWhite
Location: Shelter Island, New York

We bought this 1904 fisherman’s cottage 5 years ago. Originally planning to use the home as a weekend retreat from NYC, we now spend most of our time in the 1,100 square foot house, a block from Cockles Harbor. Originally, we were looking for something more modern but found this and had to make an offer — we’re modernists and have completed several landmark modern historic preservation projects. This is what we did to transform the house and grounds that had been neglected for many years…

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We like to entertain, have guests out all year round, and I love to cook. So, we wanted to have a place we could enjoy with family and friends. The entire ¾ acre site was rethought, so that the property could be used in different ways and in different seasons.

The interior had many misdirected renovations over the years — doors built into the floor that could not open, tiled ceilings, and the house was sinking on rotting wood posts. The yard was unusable condition. There was only one bathroom upstairs and two bedrooms, but we did not want to change the appearance and do a large add on, or alter the shape.

Connections were made to the exterior with new French doors off the dining room, a freestanding pergola was added along with a 17′ freestanding reclaimed brick fireplace constructed at the end of the pergola. This created an expanded living room/dining room area at the exterior, but also helped to balance the house on the site. The bricks were recycled from a former factory in NYC, so we brought part of the City out with us. We even make fires at the exterior fireplace in the winter, since we can see it from the dining area and if not too cold we sit by the fire after dinner.

A custom pool with long cocktail steps was added with an open area for laps. The garage/tool shed was converted into a pool house which added an additional 300 square feet.

The first floor of the house was gutted, new footings to stop the house from sinking, new custom designed cabinetry, new wide plank floors, and a new bathroom added. The new 1st floor bathroom has a door to the exterior for easy access from the pool.

We lightened up the house with whites, off whites and sand colors. Then used black and naturally textured wood as contrast. There are modern pieces, antiques, and found/altered objects. It was all completed with cost in mind, resourced inexpensive materials and furnishings.

The new bathroom has a steel framed glass partition, that was inspired by our former NYC loft windows.

After 5 years we are still making changes and coming up with new projects to work on to make it more enjoyable for our friends and family.

Thanks Steve & Rhea!

Images: Laura Moss

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