A charming little cottage on the Isle of Fire
Have you ever been to Island of fire? The long, thin island is only about 90 minutes from New York City, but it feels like a distant universe. No cars are allowed; people walk barefoot on wooden walkways; the fox and the deer meander along the sand dunes. Here, in collaboration with Maryne, Alex bates and her husband Andrew Hoffman show us the interior of their chalet …
On falling in love with Fire Island: We’re really old, so my husband started going there to visit friends before we met in 1892 [laughs]. We then started to rent houses together. We rented in the village of Saltaire and fell in love. Then, almost 30 years ago, this house became available. Do you instinctively know that when you walk into a place, you fall in love with it?
In the town of Saltaire: There isn’t much here: a grocery store, a tennis and sailing club, a library, a fire department, and a town hall. The young woman who runs the library program is a kindergarten teacher. She created new programs for children and it becomes the core of the community.
On island life: You come here and there is nothing to do. It is a sanctuary. I’m usually knee deep in the garden. I have different gardening playlists, depending on the mood of my week; and we blow up the music and pull out the weeds.
On the perfect painting: The interior of the house is completely painted in Fine Paints of Europe White 0001. I love painting. It’s pure white, not toned in any direction like a painter’s white. We painted the floor, ceiling and walls the same color. We used the high shine, so when the light comes in, it bounces around the room. You have the impression of being in a very small vessel.
At collection: Our collections are taking over at the moment. We organize seashells and stones by color. I comb the beach for oyster shells. We have a basket of antlers that the deer lost in the front yard.
On the accommodation of friends: We have a lot of spontaneous dinners with other families in Saltaire. You walk across the aisle and say, ‘Have you ever had dinner? We are having a party. People just walk through your door. My husband cooks chicken or roasts fish. Local fishing boats deliver right to the dock so you can get scallops, lobster, and cod. Plus, we do corn on the cob, of course.
On the key to a comfortable bed: My husband and I have conflicting views: his preference is for a harder mattress, and I want something softer. In the height of summer when it’s really hot we don’t have air conditioning so it’s just a light cotton blanket.
At bedtime reading: Andrew is a mystery reader – especially Swedish authors like Henning Mankell. I read Paul Hawkin Draw, which concerns solutions to climate change. He’s one of my heroes; I am in the process of inquiring about his work at the moment. My favorite book of all time is No ordinary time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. He talks about those amazing sleepovers they would have with Winston Churchill at the White House.
Wake : Early in the morning is my favorite time. I love to serve a cup of coffee and start my day on the back deck listening to nature. There are so many birds and butterflies at sunrise.
On late stays: We are uncompromising and stay here as long as possible. We need to get out before the pipes freeze, which is usually right before Thanksgiving. We had a snowstorm a year ago on November 15th and it was amazing to be in the house while the snow was falling. It was so beautiful, like in a snow globe.
Thank you so much, Alexis!