before picture of a beach house
Thomas J. Story

The Ugly Duckling

There are fixer-uppers, and then there are complete wrecks.

Determined to put down roots in a desirable beach town, Joe and Kalli Rivers Altieri were somewhat restricted by a tight budget. So they chose an uninhabitable 1920s shack with no studs or insulation that had served as base camp for 39 squatters and a taco truck.

"We were young, poor, and crazy," Joe says with a smile.

before kitchen in beach house
Thomas J. Story

Getting to Work

The first order of business was to erect poles to hold the roof up and to position five car jacks under the house to keep it from collapsing. "I wish we could have demoed a lot, but we couldn't afford to," Joe says.

Instead, he removed mold- and fire-damaged walls and stripped off the exterior wood siding, which he later recycled as beams, baseboards, and door casings.

kitchen after the remodeling
Thomas J. Story

Dream Come True

After a more than four-year process, the footprint of the 800-square-foot original structure remains largely the same. The kitchen and bathroom traded places, and the roof at the back of the house was raised.

office in remodeled beach house
 Thomas J. Story

Room for Everyone

A wall was added between the den and living room to form an office, and a mudroom connects the original house with a two-story front addition.

renovated master bedroom
Thomas J. Story

Adding On

Upstairs is a 440-square-foot master suite; downstairs is a space they call the “lanai,” where a wall of sliding doors yawns open to embrace the entire front garden.

“I created several entrances and windows, so you can come and go lots of ways and always have a view of the garden from inside,” Joe says.

renovated deck inspired by Costa Rica
Thomas J. Story

Usable Space

A once-barren area between the main house and garage is now a deck with wicker chairs, seashell mobiles, and corrugated tin awnings -- a setup inspired by a vacation in Costa Rica. The blue wall adds soothing color.

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