Tuesday, October 29, 2013

David Sedaris Buys Emerald Isle Oceanfront Getaway

BUYERS: David Sedaris and Hugh Hamrick
LOCATION: Emerald Isle, NC
PRICE: $825,000
SIZE: 2,640 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: By his own tally, Grammy-winning humorist and author David Sedaris is a bit of a real estate baller with an international property portfolio.The best-selling author, side-splitting story-teller, prolific memoirist, and engaging monologist and his long-time man-mate, painter and set designer Hugh Hamrick, don't maintain a vast stable of over-sized mansions and high-maintenance estates like most of the real estate ballers Your Mama discusses around here but they do, none-the-less, own at least eight relatively modest residences in (at least) three countries.

In addition to their current residence, a 16th-century farmhouse in the rural South Downs area of West Sussex in the south of England, the couple also own: their former home, a rustic cottage in an almost non-existent village in France's Normandy region; an apartment and a house in London; not one but three apartments in Paris;* a house in North Carolina, where Mister Sedaris says his sister lives; and, their most recent acquisition, we learned from Mister Sedaris's latest installment in The New Yorker, an ocean front duplex in Emerald Isle, NC that he and his mister picked up last summer (2013) for—as per property records—for $825,000.

The purchase of a beach house in Emerald Isle, NC, might seem a tetch odd for someone who has, for quite some time, happily lived abroad. But it makes much more sense if you know that Mister Sedaris grew up in Raleigh, NC, spent childhood summers with his parents and five siblings on Emerald Isle, and used to tell himself that he would one day "buy a beach house and that it would be every one's as long as they followed my Draconian rules and never stopped thanking me for it."

Listing details (and other information) Your Mama dug up indicate the unassuming—if downright unattractive, two-story duplex was built in 1978 on a high dune with unobstructed ocean views up and down the shoreline of the slender barrier island. All together, as per digital marketing materials, there are six bedrooms and four bathrooms in 2,640 square feet but, given the exterior symmetry, Your Mama thinks it's probably safe to assume that each of the units has three bedrooms and two bathrooms in 1,320 square feet. One rental listing we turned up online indicates there's a (probably and hopefully double-locked) doorway that connects the two units that each rented for the 2013 season at rates that started at about $1,200 per week.

Our opinion, as informed by rental listing photographs Your Mama dug up on the internets, is that at the time of Misters Sedaris and Hamricks' purchase each of the units was inexpensively (and depressingly) decorated with a mis-matched hodge-podge of cast-offs and other furnishings that look like they were selected not for personal attachment or aesthetic satisfaction but rather for their low cost, long-range durability, and stain resistance.**

As per digital marketing materials, both of the units have upgraded kitchens, a description that translates for at least one of the units to egg-shell toned linoleum flooring, new and average-quality stainless steel appliances, and white cabinetry topped by cornflower blue laminate counter tops. A one- (or maybe two-) stool breakfast bar separates the kitchen(s) from the carpeted combination living/dining room(s). Large windows are filled with beach and ocean views and a door in the dining area connects to a shared, lower deck that runs the full-width of the duplex. The lower deck, shared by both units and shaded by the deck above it, has a handful of rocking chairs and not-rocking chairs, a couple of picnic benches, which we love because we love a beach-side picnic bench, and, somewhere, an outdoor shower area.

A brief and unscientific study of the window placement on the rear façade suggests to Your Mama that four of the duplex's six bedrooms face the ocean and that at least two of them have direct access to a shared, upper-level deck with a sensational and sea gull-ish view. However, butter beans, based on the various rental listing photographs Your Mama perused, we'd bet both our long-bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, that all six of the almost comically bare-bones bedrooms were done up by the sellers with little more than decoratively questionable bed linens and window treatments.

A catwalk extends off the back of the lower deck and descends to another deck with built-in benches that's set half-way down the dune. Although this slightly elevated location would undoubtedly make a sweet spot to view a summer sunrise Your Mama imagines this deck fills up with with a kaleidoscopic tangle of beach chairs and umbrellas, booze coolers, boogie boards and other necessary beach equipment that turns it into more of an ankle-breaking hazard than a serene early a.m. spot to reflect on whatever it is one reflects upon when they staring contemplatively at the ocean.

*Private note to Mister Sedaris: You mentioned in this interview that you and Hugh sometimes just hand out the keys to one of your Paris apartments to friends, acquaintances, and virtual strangers. Well, hunney, if you ever feel like tossing them keys Your Mama's way, please do. We just j'adore Paris in the winter and promise not to leave any cut-rate cereal in the kitchen cupboard. Think about it. Seriously, think about it. Anyways...

**These are, to be sure, excellent qualities in furnishings for investment-oriented real estate that is regularly rented out to seaside vacationers who may or may not treat the furnishings in a considerate or even respectable manner. But, believe it children, low-cost, durable and stain resistance does not have to be this ugly. It really doesn't. 

(rental) listing photos: Emerald Isle Realty, FlipKey


WrteStufLA said...

Oceanfront on a NC barrier island? The ocean will reclaim it within 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations David and Hugh, With you, your family, and friends, this house will be filled with love and laughter. I have always enjoyed Emerald Isle, and I'm thrilled that you'll be able to spend some time there.

lil' gay boy said...

I guess they see something I don't (which is probably why they're rich and I'm not) -- but the location & view are lovely.

If it wasn't for their extended family I assume it is a tear down.

Sandpiper said...

My first reaction was ... huh? And then I read the backstory. This place isn't about power washing the lower deck or adding shutters. Hope I'm not being too gushy, but it's about making memories. It's the people that matter.

Anonymous said...

Light from long-expired stars continues to brighten our nights for centuries. Modest beach homes with shabby furniture, purchased to offer hospitality and maintain memories, keeps the love of our departed alive. May Tiffany Sedaris be remembered for all of her goodness and acerbic splendor.

Rabbi Hedda LaCasa

Anonymous said...

If someone has attractive decor in a beach rental, it WILL be stolen. They put ugly decor items in there on purpose. Nobody cares about the decor, anyway, they are too busy having fun at the beach.

FonHom said...

Yeah, a tad fugly, and the exterior paint looks like mannequin skin. But it would be easy to paint & redecorate.
On the Delaware coast, a lot of these classic beach homes were replaced with even fuglier grandiose McBeachHouses with noisy AC and sealed(!) windows. It's a summer - not year round - beach house. You need a free flow between inside/outside, you need floors & furniture that work with sandy wet feet & bodies, and you need a quick'n'dirty outdoor shower. Form AND function, children.

WrteStufLA is correct, on Atlantic barrier islands the word should be rent, don't buy.

Don Juan's Wreckless Daughter said...

very touched by what our dear Rabbi and Sandpiper wrote.


wtf is going on with that bunk bed sitch?

Anonymous said...

Ocean front for $825? It would be 3x that in Fire Island Pines. Of course, it's 50x easier to get laid there, but this is a couple. Nice move.

Anonymous said...

...and 50x easier to catch an STD in Fire Island Pines

Anonymous said...

Emerald Isle is a great beach. Mostly family homes and rental homes and about enjoying he beach and water. Great place to spend a week and unwind. If you have read Sedaris and the story of his brother, The Rooster, getting married, "Sh&& on Tap", that location is just up the beach. BTW, The Rooster is a great Floorman and could come in fix any floor issue DS would have in this house.

Anonymous said...

While I love your acerbic postings, this was no mere real estate purchase. Read his New Yorker story again. They bought a place for their family to trace their past and future.

Anonymous said...

I just saw him live, where he talked about the place a bit. He and Hugh bought it very quickly, while vacationing in the area this summer with brothers / sisters / father. They had to wait for the remaining rentals to finish in October, and Hugh is there now working on it. They are naming it "The Sea Section".

RobRoy said...

This was my childhood summer home. It harkens back to a much simpler time when houses like this were extravagant. A second home was a goal for many.
My mom dad and brother grew up in Jacksonville. We spent every July here playing on the crystal coast. It was idyllic. Days on the shore And waterboggan. Nights at the dairy queen and travlpark.
I hope their family enjoys it nearly as much as my family did. There are volumes of memories there.