After riding the New York subway most of us feel compelled to immediately reach for our hand sanitizer. Imagine visiting a home where you can’t even put your hand sanitizer away. If you haven’t heard about the Grey Gardens house yet, then let me paint a picture to make the analogy come alive.
Exposed wall paneling also exposed the raccoons that lived within them. The floor was half wood and half cat feces. The bedroom didn’t have a single exposed service; littered with newspapers, dirty oven mitts, opened soup cans, and more animal droppings. Surely the whole house was a health code condemnation. And much to my dismay, the surround yard and property was reminiscent of a sad, overgrown but dead version of a Jumanji jungle. Now imagine that decrepitude could be on the market for $20 million dollars.
Yes, Grey Gardens, the East Hampton home made famous by Jackie Kennedy’s relatives has been given a new life. Made famous by the singly named mother/daughter duo Big and Little Edie. Both Edith Bouvier Beale, lived in about three of the home’s 28 rooms during the societal seclusion.
Big Edie was left for destitution when she became a divorcee and botched benefactor of her wealthy father’s will. Little Edie moved in with her willfully secluded mother and the duo inspired the documentary, Grey Gardens. Albert and David Maysles made the film in 1975 and it became an immediate attraction for the public. In other words, the Grey Gardens house became the original episode of Hoarders.
Not only were formally prominent, well-to-do women living in actual shambles, their imprudent and dependent relationship filled the Grey Gardens house with further personality, a somehow enchanting personality. In fact, 40 years’ worth of personality.
The women inhabited the home until Big Edie’s death in 1997. Still financially inept, Little Edie was forced to sell the property that made her and her mother famous. The property sold in 1979 for $200k by Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his journalist wife, Sally Quinn. Little Edie refused to sell the house to someone with the intention of tearing it down; so every potential buyer until the Bradlees.
But don’t worry, according to little Edie, all the Grey Gardens house needed was a “coat of paint” when in fact to rid the house of its feline inhabitants’ odor, the floors and walls needed to be removed while the nearly 2 acres of land essentially needed to all be uprooted. As you can see pictured, a home’s exterior, lawn included, can exasperate a home’s condition. Sometimes a coat of paint also refers to a good weed- wacker!
The actual garden of Grey Gardens is now lush and green. The Bradlee couple added a swimming pool and tennis court to the property. Their restoration efforts since 1979 had amassed to about $600k.
The story of Grey Gardens goes to prove that the bones of a home and its landscape can always be saved when not properly tended to; even abused in the case of Grey Gardens.
If this property once deemed by the Health Department an ultimate violator of all health codes can be restored to be worth $20 million, you can do almost anything with your home. Much like the gardens here, it may take a few years for things to bloom and grow to that healthy overgrowth, you can still plant the seeds now and reap your $20 million-ish rewards later.
It’s suggested hiring a professional to maintain the integrity of your property’s landscape. The Edies have proven that it is much too easy to allow the health of your home to deteriorate without guidance and frequent upkeep.
1. Plant plants and flowers known to grow in your home’s climate. The plants able to grow in East Hampton may differ from those that can be planted in Central Florida.
2. Hire someone you trust to take care of your yard while you can’t. Hiring a professional can catch signs of damage from either lack of care or even pests (much like Grey Gardens).
3. Find a landscape design that is suitable for your needs and expectations. Then, find a lawn service that can meet your needs. You want something that will make you happy but will also not be too much to maintain. You want something somewhere in between the original Grey Gardens house and the $20 million Grey Gardens. Assess your home for your wants and its needs. You too can create your version of a $20 million home.
Maybe all your home needs is some fresh lawn care and a fresh “coat of paint”.