The Day – One-level living in a private-beach community

The “House of the Week” is 482 Maple Avenue in Old Saybrook, a four-bedroom ranch with an attached two-car garage. It’s part of the District of Fenwood, a beach community with a variety of architectural styles and many homes built between the 1930s and 1960s, according to Sue Cohn Darmon, the listing agent for the property and a Realtor with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex.

“The beach is right across the street. It doesn’t get much better,” Darmon said. Lest prospective buyers think that having an entrance to the beach directly in front of the house might be noisy or distracting, Darmon pointed out how the house sits high, across Maple Avenue, and that the beach is actually nestled down below a formidable sea wall and staircase. The positioning has some visual benefits for the house, as well, for rather than looking out to a bustling neighborhood beach, there is a panoramic view of the water and Old Saybrook’s historic lighthouses, the listing agent pointed out.

“Truly, the views are picture perfect,” she attested. “I was there yesterday, sitting in the living room, and what’s incredible is that all you see is the water and the lighthouses and other parts of the coastline.”

The ranch-style house has broad appeal for today’s buyers, who may not want to navigate steps and prefer the intimacy and connected sense of a one-level floor plan. Yet, this home also has a finished lower level, which adds some bonus space and flexibility for a buyer.

Christina and William Gautieri — Chris and Bill — are the homeowners. The couple were enjoying an afternoon on the private neighborhood beach, steps from the house, when Welcome Home spoke with Bill Gautieri about the home they’ve listed for sale. They’re asking $1.995 million for the property.

They bought the property in 2016. He recounted how the previous owners, who he believed had the house custom built in 1957, were the owners of the enduringly popular East Side Restaurant in New Britain and Dock and Dine in Old Saybrook — Steffi and Eddie Walters. When the Gautieris bought the house from the couple’s estate, the previous owners’ rich history in the restaurant business was on full display. For example, there was diner-style booth seating in the eat-in kitchen, and the house was immaculate and clean, he said — a well-loved home.

The late-1950s décor and design had been preserved, as well, so the Gautieris embarked on a grand-scale renovation of the home, to freshen the interiors and upgrade the systems, including all new electrical and plumbing throughout the house. Many of the fixtures and interior finishes were reclaimed during the renovation.

“Hardly anything went into a dumpster,” he said.

The new owners also replaced all the original windows with Marvin-brand high-efficiency models, including a near wall of glass in the living room, framing the water view.

They even changed the floor plan.

“There was a staircase in the kitchen that you’d find in an older house, where you’d come in from the garage and walk into the kitchen and have this awkward staircase that brought you down into the basement,” he explained. “We closed that off and increased the kitchen by about 40 square feet and added a pantry, and then relocated the staircase into the center of the house — an open staircase that created a sense of the lower level being brought into the flow of the rest of the house.”

The interiors have some special little details, including two wood-burning fireplaces — one in the living room and one in the lower level. There’s also a lower-level retro-styled wet bar.

Darmon explained that the main level has approximately 2,152 square feet of living space, but the lower level adds roughly another 1,400 square feet to that figure.

The house is sited on a 0.29-acre lot, with a stone patio that steps out to level lawn. The Gautieris, who fostered dogs, appreciated the fully fenced backyard.

“Fenwood is a smaller community,” the sellers said. “There are only 150 homes, give or take, in the community, and everybody pretty much knows everybody here. … It’s big enough to keep down the cost of the beach, which we share, but it’s small enough that you’ll know everyone. It’s a great vibe.”

According to the listing agent, the beach is maintained by the association, but residents pay a common tax to share the cost, rather than a typical HOA fee, and this year, the annual tax is less than $900, she explained.

There are picnic tables at the beach, and a fire pit.

On any given weekend evening during the summer season, you’ll find residents congregating there, eating and drinking and feeling a sense of community.

“It’s more like a lifestyle,” Gautieri said. “It almost feels like a beach club.”

Property: 482 Maple Ave., Old Saybrook

Bedrooms: 4

Baths: 4

Square Footage: 3,552

Acreage: 0.29

Asking Price: $1.995 million

Seller’s Agent: Sue Cohn Darmon, William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, Essex brokerage; Mobile: (860) 707-6879; [email protected]

Photos and Captions: (*all photos contributed by William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty)

Photo: Aerial


: Located in the private-beach community of Fenwood in Old Saybrook, the four-bedroom ranch at 482 Maple Avenue is currently listed for sale, with an asking price of $1.995 million. Sue Cohn Darmon, a Realtor with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex, is the listing agent. Photo: Dennis Carbo

Photo: Back patio


: The house is situated on a 0.29-acre lot. The backyard is fully fenced and appended with a stone patio. Photo: Dennis Carbo

Photo: Beach


: The District of Fenwood is a waterfront community of approximately 150 homes, which share a private beach. Photo: Dennis Carbo

Photo: bedroom


: Three of the four bedrooms at 482 Maple Avenue are on the main level of the ranch-style home, including a primary suite. The fourth bedroom is in the finished lower level, which also has a bonus/rec room with a wet bar, a den/family room, an office, storage space and a partial bath. Photo: Dennis Carbo

Photo: Front View


: 482 Maple Avenue offers panoramic views of the water and two historic lighthouses. Photo: Dennis Carbo

Photo: kitchen


: The sellers of this home oversaw a grand-scale renovation of the late-1950s home, including running all new wiring and upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems. Inside, they redesigned and reconfigured the floor plan, including creating this inviting eat-in kitchen. Photo: Dennis Carbo

Photo: Living – 2


: The seller installed new Marvin-brand windows, including a “picture window” in the living room. Photo: Dennis Carbo