The Bennett/ Housolina House Est. 1956
333 Ozone Walk.
I spent my childhood Summers on Fire Island, the Pines for the most part. They are some of my happiest memories: the beach; the dunes; digging for clams in the Bay; and even getting splinters on the boardwalk are the things childhoods are made of. There were no cars (a few jeeps) or even sidewalks in the Pines, I doubt that’s changed even now…
Fire Island Pines is all wooden boardwalks, no concrete at all. My friends, Scott, Jeannie and I decided to build our own boardwalk one day and got to work with our tool chest full of hammers and nails. I learned how to to build things from my Father whom I noticed after hammering a nail would yell “fuck!”, evidently a reaction from either hitting his finger, or just bending the nail as it went in. Not knowing the reasons for his expletives, I figured this is just how you do it, and would myself scream “fuck” after hitting every nail, causing much consternation among the neighbors and my friend’s parents. Out boardwalk to nowhere was eventually demolished as some people bought the lot it was on. Such is the way of gentrification.
In the early fifties, just before I was born and our house was built, my parents and grandparents would camp out in the dunes with their friends. Some of these people, like my father’s friend Hildegarde, built shacks out of driftwood nestled in the dunes just a few feet from the beach. Protected from the winds but close enough for an early morning swim in the Atlantic.
Evenings would be centered around a bonfire where the days catch of clams and crabs would be devoured with some good wine and beer. It must have been a great time to be out there, no houses, no real estate, just endless miles of beach, dunes, sky and water.
The home went through two owners, but maintained its original beach house esthetic. In 2018 it would have new owners who have given it a much needed renovation while still be true to its roots…
By new owners Bruno de Carvalho & Luca Baraldo:
It didn’t take us long for us to find 333 Ozone, which we refer to as Housolina. The house is a 2 bedroom/1 bathroom bungalow built in 1956 and acquired by the Barrons in the 60s. It remained in their family until they sold it to us in 2018.
We immediately loved the straightforward layout and the untouched simplicity of the house. The house had potential although we knew that we had a lot to do as the kitchen was original and the bathroom needed to be gut rehabbed. The house only had a wrap around deck, so we wanted to expand the built area to create a back deck and add a pool and a hot tub.
We are glad we didn’t start renovations right away but instead used the house in the first summer as owners. The more time we spent in it, the least we wanted to change. The most noticeable change of heart pertained the exposed wood ceilings, built-ins and wood paneling which we had originally planned on painting white to brighten up the interiors. We ended up loving so much the coziness that the wood texture gives the house at night that we kept it as in the original. We also didn’t change much of the floor plan; some nip and tucks to make the house more functional but the flow is essentially the same as in the original plan.
In the first round of renovations we completed in the summer of 2019, we updated the kitchen and bathroom in the inside while for the outside we expanded the back deck to include a small plunge pool and a hot tub and gave a fresh, and needed, coat of paint to the house. We knew we wanted to keep as much as possible of the original character of the house but we also wanted to make it feel more contemporary. The streamlined midcentury modernism of the house lent itself perfectly to welcome some more contemporary touches. We painted the outside anthracite gray to make it disappear in the lushness of the surrounding greenery. The feeling of the house from inside and from the wrap-around decks is that of a tree house and we wanted to emphasize that. Yet, we felt Housolina deserved a new voice, so we painted the entry door in bright yellow. People now refer to our house as “the little yellow door house” which we find charming. In the interiors we used materials that have a distinctive mid-century feel and a connection to our own personal life stories: the kitchen countertops are made of black terrazzo, which reminded Luca of his childhood in his grandparents’ house in Italy and the bathroom floor is a green slate from Brazil, Bruno’s home-country. Finally, the white handmaid wall tiles and cedar paneling of the bathroom are a nod to the midcentury interiors of the many beautiful Gifford’s houses.
We are planning a second round of renovation in the near future. We would like to add a second, en-suite bathroom in the largest bedroom and a pool cabana to enjoy a bit more privacy from the surrounding properties. The key aspect of these interventions will be to maintain the house true to itself…