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Pretty in Pink

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:20
It took a lot of thought and a little getting used to, but now David Steckowski wouldn’t have his pink house any other way. Above, he’s seen with his three dogs, Romeo, a Pekingese, Midnight, a Pomeranian, and Cali, a miniature pinscher. The rooster is said to bring luck and money.

It’s a hearty pink, vibrant, almost the hue of those Hostess Sno Ball snack cakes, if you’ve ever dared to indulge, or a flamingo fresh from its latest inhalation of shrimp.  

“After work it just makes me happy to pull up to my nice pink house,” David Steckowski said the other day, standing in his tight semicircle of a gravel driveway and looking up at his 1,100-square-foot, one-and-a-half-story domicile — small, but not too small — on 7,000 square feet of land, which is plenty, really, just a few strides from East Hampton’s Cedar Street, with the houses close by on either side lending a snug, neighborly feel.

Painting a house pink might seem like an impulsive or even defiant move, but here the homeowner took a full four years to commit to it. He got to work in August last year.

“It was my husband’s idea. He wanted that color,” Mr. Steckowski said of Ong Chaikhran, who is from Thailand. “I’m still getting used to it. The first sunny day after I finished, I pull up and go, ‘Whew! Hope I didn’t make a mistake.’ Now I can’t imagine it any other way.”

Sorry, Carl Fisher, this isn’t Miami Beach, so pastel was out. The winter sun will darken a color. “I wanted the cleanest pink I could find. I didn’t want it to look dirty,” Mr. Steckowski said.

He considered Pink Chintz among the Pittsburgh Paints samples before going one shade darker: Muted Magenta. It’s a solid pigment stain over cedar, to be technical about it, though the light gray, Steel City, color of the trim is actual paint.

“With the white window moldings it looked too Barbie. The two shades of gray trim masculined it up a bit.” The front door got lost, however, so he slapped some almost neon Lemon Grass paint on it “to make it pop.”

And the neighbors? You know how they can talk. “A lot of people were surprised they liked it.”

“I was worried the town was going to shut me down, so I started in back to see how it went, then did the sides.” No one said anything.

The house dates to 1885. Mr. Steckowski bought it in 2010 and since that time has done all the work on it himself, other than the roof. “You open up the walls and it reads like a book,” he said, referring to the evidence of historical progression from the days of coal stoves and floor furnaces. In one wall he found charred two-by-fours — but not from a past fire; they’d been reused for a repair, salvaged from some other structure’s misfortune.

Mr. Steckowski engages in a kind of recycling of his own. He works in excavating and construction for Mike DiSunno’s company in Amagansett, and will salvage what he can from demolition jobs. 

“All the windows are reclaimed. So is that rock,” he said, motioning to one big enough to require a pay-loader to place it in front of the house. “I wanted it for its moss.”

Nearby, spared the scrap heap, decorative leaves made of wrought iron run the length of the wood fence.

With the job he has, he has seen his share of Hamptons excess — like the mansion that drew more natural gas than the pipe from the street could supply, requiring supplemental propane, generators, you name it. In contrast, he considers himself part of the “normal house movement.”  

“A house like this, it’s got history, it’s got character. You almost feel it’s got a heartbeat. You can think of all the families who lived and died here.”

He even believes there’s a ghost in residence, seen walking down the driveway, haunting a bedroom. “But the ghost has been quiet since I painted the house pink.”

It must be happy.

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