And, none of it was easy. "You can't just slap up new walls," says Helgesen, referring to opening up the house to graft on additions. "When you renovate an old house you have to take care of the basics first"—starting with the roof and foundation. Helgesen enlisted veteran contractor Marty Mahar, who also foresaw complications. Houses in this part of Amagansett, built from the 1940s to '60s, "were meant to be used as summer places," Mahar says. "When you start to work on one, you never know what you'll find." The kitchen was widened just 2 feet, but with white cabinets swapped in for the old cherry cupboards (which were reused in the garden shed) and the addition of white marble countertops and backsplash, the room appears twice its former size. Helgesen's simple, clean-lined moldings and trimwork—all, like the beamed ceilings and walls, finished in white tones—contribute to the sense of spaciousness.
Shown: A custom mantel hides the range hood and gives cabinets a finished look. A wall came down to create room for a peninsula and open up
the kitchen to a new breakfast area. Marble counters, a pro-style range, and a walnut-stained top on the snack bar play off cottage-style beadboard and vintage-look cabinets with old-fashioned polished-nickel hardware.