Volume 50, 2006

Selling or Renting: Maximize Your Returns
The HGTV show “Designed to Sell” always captures my attention. If you are familiar with the show you know that each episode features a house being readied for sale. A brazen and generally ill-mannered real estate agent is brought in to critique a house and yard prior to the house hitting the market. Following the analysis made by the sales agent, a design consultant arrives to specify the work that should be done to get the house in shape and ready to sell.

Simple Solutions for Your Island Home
Brian and I see a lot of Fire Island homes and gardens in every town from Kismet through to Point O’ Woods. So often, our customers, neighbors and friends have come up with simple ideas which make taking care of our homes and gardens just a bit easier. If some of these solutions are known to you, then you are way ahead of most of us.

Questions From The Readers
Lisa in Fair Harbor: I planted my flower pots with these gorgeous red summer annuals and the blooms have already died and it is only the Fourth of July! Did I pick the wrong plants for my containers?
Brian answers: ....

Landscaping, Island-Style
For years, my mother sold flowers in Fair Harbor. She was quiet, self-reliant and she loved those flowers. Over the last few years of her life, once spring came and the flowers were in her yard to sell, she seemed to gain a step. Although not trained as a gardener, she was inclined to keep track of things related to gardening. She kept a yearly calendar and noted the day’s weather. We have framed some of the pages from the calendars because her notes on them sometimes also included some observations about our family, which amuse us still.

Getting Things Done
Recently I had to go the paint store. When I go to places like the paint store, I always feel like I have landed on the moon. Inevitably I purchase the wrong thing. It happened again this time. Our deck furniture had been re-stained and stored last fall. When we brought it out for the season, it looked great. However, the dining table had been left outside all winter because it was too heavy to lift and store and it, too, needed to be re-stained.

Careful Plant Care
Many of our customers want to do some of their own gardening, but do not want to risk being bitten by a tick or getting poison ivy. Given how warm the early season has been, we expect a particularly bad season for both of these Fire Island pests. We encourage novice gardeners to try container planting. Many different varieties of flowers and vegetables can be grown in containers. Successful container gardening requires just a little bit of information and care.

Let the Summer Begin!
Why is it that some Fire Island homeowners arrive at their vacation home for the first time in the spring and in relatively short order, they are sitting down on the deck, reading The Times? In thinking about this as we watch the spring tableau unfold, we noticed four categories of Fire Island homeowners. What’s your style? Homeowners who have paid for everything to be done, so that when they arrive, their house is perfect. The cheese is at room temperature, the wine is cooling and all is well.

Volume 49, 2005

Summer Pests
Had enough of the heat? The summer heat seems to take its toll on everything both inside and out side of our house. No one here wants to be hugged… that’s for sure. Is it the same at your house? Thanks to Nessa Picker in Fair Harbor, we tried a product call “Damp Rid” for the first time. This nifty packet of drying crystals can be hung up in closets, boats or anywhere else that you especially need to control humidity. I purchased this product at a local dry cleaning business, but it can be found at most hardware stores and in some grocery stores.

Foraging for Treasure on Fire Island
Lacking creativity, I have learned to steal good ideas, give it my stamp, and then call it my own. I try to pay attention to the small things that people do which seem to make sense or make life easier. The other thing I have learned is that there are design ideas lurking everywhere. In Lonelyville, for example, there is a cottage which surely must be occupied by some very clever folks. Their gate, featured in one of our photos, is both creative and functional. I feel certain the deer never sail over the gate on to their deck, something that has happened to me at least twice. They have designed and installed wooden renderings of lighthouses on to the gate.

The Small Things Matter
It is blueberry season! Blueberries are in abundance this year and picking them is one of the things that almost any Fire Islander can enjoy. If you have never had the good fortune to enjoy something straight out of nature, blueberry picking on Fire Island may be it. There are so many things on Fire Island that you can enjoy which you may not know about. So many of us are foragers of one type or another. Shopping is one of my favorite ways to forage, hunting for what I need or want. Here on the beach there are yard sales and community bazaars which are great places to find things for your Fire Island home.

Vlasta, Boomer and Midnight
You are either a cat lover or a dog lover, generally not both. We happen to love dogs. When my children were young, a dear friend of ours who happened to be an ex-patriot from Czechoslovakia, bought my son and daughter a charming yellow Labrador puppy. He purchased the dog at an auction. The proceeds of the auction were to be used to protect the fly ways of migrating waterfowl and these puppies were expected to grow in to great hunters. Labs are known for loving the water, an affinity for hunting, and for their gentle disposition. This puppy, who we named Vlasta in honor of our friend, was in our lives for seventeen years. That is a long time to own one pet.

A Guide to Being the Perfect Guest
At the end of every weekend, especially the holidays, I hear horror stories about Fire Island house guests. The complaints never change and the offending house guest never reappears. In order to afford houseguests and visiting family member a chance to understand what a house guest needs to know in order to make a return visit we offer the following information, and guidance. The most important thing to remember is that your host is on vacation. Your host is not here on Fire Island because they want to work, they want to relax.

Summertime Celebrations
Here on Fire Island, like in many towns across America, people celebrate the Fourth of July in different ways. My happiest times have been with my family and friends, always at the beach. I cannot remember ever having a summer where we weren’t at the beach. Parades, hot dogs, hamburgers, lemonade, watermelon, flags, sparklers––these are the props in the setting for all of those celebrations. In some of our Fire Island towns, there are parades. I remember when my children were in Fourth of July parades. Like so many little boys, my son always loved fire trucks. Naturally the opportunity to ride in one was a thrill. So when he was invited to participate in the local parade and ride with the chief––it was just thrilling.

Fire Island or Suburbia?
Last winter there was a budget vote for some capital improvements at the Fire Island School in Ocean Beach. Although almost everyone on the school board is known to us, because our children are grown, we are not involved or familiar with what goes on at the Woodhull School. Furthermore, we know the board members and these are not people prone to spend money unwisely. If they felt that the money was needed and the assessments were proper, we were inclined to support the measure. When this vote came up, what we wanted to know was how the proposed spending measure was going to affect our tax bill.

You and Your Contractor…A Match Made in Heaven or Hell?
Keeping a Fire Island home maintained is a daunting task. Most homeowners do not own tool belts, rakes, shovels, hammers or sets of wrenches. Owning tools is one thing; knowing what to do with them and when to use them is the other. I don’t know the difference between a ten penny common nail and a six penny finish nail. They may even be the same thing for all I know. Every time I need to go to East Islip Lumber, a local supplier of homebuilding materials, to pick something up for Brian, I am completely intimidated. In fact, every time I go there I threaten to retaliate and send Brian to Victoria’s Secret for some lingerie for me. I assure you that he would rather have his finger nails pulled out than have to make that trip.

Volume 48, 2004
Maximizing Returns on Rental Property
As a Fire Island real estate broker, I hear some of the comments prospective tenants make about your houses. It is my job to bring you responsible tenants who will pay top dollar for your rental property. You can make my job easier and your prospects substantially better, if you improve your house in ways that are not terribly expensive.

Compare Your Lease Here
Owners want considerate tenants who will pay top dollar for their vacation property. Tenants want to find the best property at the best price. On the west end of Fire Island in the communities of Kismet, Saltaire, Fair Harbor, Dunewood and Lonelyville rents ranged anywhere from $250 per day to $550 per day during the season ending on Labor Day. Since there is no central source of information about rents, what follows is a compilation of information from a variety of real estate brokers on the season’s characteristics.

Touring a Piece of Heaven
From whitewashed wood floors to marble shower tiles, bright blue bathroom walls to bamboo window shades, Persian rugs to plaid couch cushions, beach houses are as individual as the people who own them.
“It’s funny how everyone has their own piece of paradise,” said Joyce Segal, Saltaire homeowner and one of nine Saltairians who shared their celestial abodes with the community at the Saltaire House and Garden Tour on Saturday, July 17. The tour showcased the different definitions – and decorations – in these personal paradises, beginning with a blast of color at stop number one – the home of Concha Mendoza and Cesar Perales.

The Only Game In Town
Getting a contractor to appear on your doorstep to initiate or complete work can sometimes be a terrible hassle. Whether you live on Fire Island or any where else, competent, professional contractors are not easy to come by.


Fair Harbor
Robins Rest
Ocean Beach
Point O'Woods