A Family Takes on Mirrored Walls and Pink Bathrooms in a 100-Year-Old Beach House

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Introducing Brownstoner’s first-ever reader renovation diary based in Sea Gate. It will document the renovation of a 100-year-old oceanfront home on the edge of Coney Island. Our intrepid blogger can also be found at Brooklyn Beach House.

A Coney Island beach house. Yes! They exist.

I know, because we bought one a year ago. If you start at Nathan’s in Coney Island and head west toward the baseball stadium (keep the ocean on your left), in about a mile you will find that the boardwalk and Surf Avenue dead end into gates in the water and the street.

This is the beginning of Sea Gate, a 120-year-old gated community that boasts tiny bungalows, apartment buildings, mega-mansions, and everything in between. And the cool part is — despite the gate — anyone can live here!

After spending a delightful four years in a Park Slope brownstone on 6th Street just off the park, followed by an even more delightful seven years raising our new family in a large Queen Anne in Ditmas Park, I can honestly say THIS is Brooklyn’s best kept secret.

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The living room features a carrara marble mantle from Carrara, Italy, which a former owner had shipped over in 1950

We bought our third 100-year-old home (why go easy on ourselves now?) last summer when an itch to be near the water led us through a few corners of Brooklyn. (We almost pulled the trigger on a tear-down in Mill Basin on a canal with a private boat dock.)

But when this oceanfront home in Sea Gate — a corner of Brooklyn I’d never heard of before — came onto our radar, we were hooked on the view alone.

Our new home was untouched since the 1950s. It is a study in all things midcentury and ancient plumbing: cement walls and flocked wallpaper, mirrored rooms and hidden beams, pink bathrooms and cloth wiring (seemingly installed by Edison himself).

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This is one of many pink bathrooms in the house. This one has a wallpapered ceiling

It stolidly stood its ground during Hurricane Sandy, but did receive water damage. So this, coupled with the crusty stuff, led us to the easy conclusion that a full-gut was in order.

Exactly 12 months since buying, we are finally nearing the finish line, and I am excited to share the juicy details with you, and many, many before, during, and after photos.

Let’s get started!

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A view of the beach from the enclosed patio off the master bedroom

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The second floor landing

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A third floor bedroom features metallic blue wallpaper and a view of the ocean

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This is the master bathroom, with a view of the bedroom beyond

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Clash of the wallpapers: The gold paper on the right was throughout the home, but the pink was a surprise find when we removed a floor-to-ceiling mirror

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