Home of the Month | March 2015

720 27th Avenue North

   …It’s the Little Things that Make the Difference in This Big House

When Katie and Ben Oshrine took a look at the house on 27th Ave. N.—in the process of buying their first house after years of apartment living in Boston and Philadelphia—they noticed the big stuff right away. Who could miss the distinctive two-toned paint job on the exterior, the soaring ceilings in the great room, or the massive matching refrigerator and freezer in the fancy kitchen? But since they moved in on July 14, 2014, it has been the little things that make the difference and cause them to love their home.

The house underwent a major renovation around 2008 or so, transforming it from a small, two-bedroom bungalow into an expanded, four-bedroom, two-floor space with plenty of room for guest, entertaining, and fun. The original portion of the home is now Ben and Katie’s guest “wing”—a separate hall in the front of their home with two bedrooms and a full bath. Guests can stay in one of the rooms and lounge in the other, all without having to come into the main portion of the house, if they so choose. That’s been helpful, considering that since they moved in, the Oshrines have had a range of guests come to stay, including family from out of town and friends from nearby whose house was being tented.

2015 03 front of house2015 03 pool2015 03 back of house

The kitchen is also from the original house, though little of it remains untouched, featuring gleaming granite countertops and those matching refrigeration units. Katie laughs, noting that though having a full-sized freezer can be convenient, it might be more than their two-person family needs. The four bedrooms also may be more than they need at the moment, though they look forward to growing into their home. As Katie explains, “You don’t usually think of neighborhoods when you think of Florida. But I love that our neighbors have been here for 20 years, and they’ve raised their kids here.” For now though, Katie and Ben are happy to make use of all this space, which is so unlike the 700-square-foot apartment they shared in the past.

2015 03 great room

The house also has loads of storage nooks and crannies, with huge closets in every room and a cove under the stairs that is Sadie the dog’s “zone.” Daisy the cat isn’t left out either; in the master bedroom, a nook features a small shelf, above a slanted portion of the floor. It’s carpeted, so Daisy uses that slope as a scratching post and escapes from Sadie’s inquiring nose by hopping up to the shelf. (Note: Rather like the Waldo character, Sadie likes to show up in pictures. See if you can find her in two of these shots!)

Other “small” things that make the difference include bumpers on the walls behind doors, so that the doorknobs never mar the walls; wall outlets with small nightlights built into them; and a basketball hoop above the unattached, two-car garage—the detail that really sold Ben on the house. There’s plenty of room to play ball, on the huge parking pad beyond the garage. On one side of the garage is the back door to the house; on the other is the gate to the pool area.

The pool is saltwater and beautiful. Because Sadie jumps in to swim in it nearly daily, Katie and Ben have been challenged to find landscaping that works well around the pool: Plants seem to die, and mulch gets tracked into the pool. Their plan for the near future is to add some large planters and stone landscaping, to add both practicality and attractiveness, and then put in some functional, decorative lighting, to make it even more fun to host their friends.

Of course, some of the little things are not quite what the Oshrines would have chosen. Opposite the stairs for example, two wooden shelves with evenly spaced holes remain firmly in place. Katie guesses that the previous owners kept their fishing rods there, but without rods of their own, the Oshrines have not quite figured out what to do with the racks. But such details just reflect their desire to make this, their first house, into their home. There are small things they would like to change, to fit their personalities and preferences, but “We love the house and love the set-up now. It’s the perfect location and such a good fit for us. There are projects we want to do, but nothing so pressing that we have to do it now.”

The light is shining in the huge windows, Daisy is avoiding detection, and Sadie is curled up on the couch. The house is already a home.

—Elisabeth Nevins Caswell
Photo Credits: ©Elisabeth Nevins Caswell

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