This Old House Has Plenty Of Heart

If I made a list of my favorite houses in Westport, Betsyand Dan Kahn’s would be near the top.

It fits every criteria: location (a few feet from Compo Beach). Uniqueness. Beauty. Charm. Funkitude.

Betsy and Dan Kahn's house, at 9 Danbury Avenue.

Betsy and Dan Kahn’s house, 100 steps from the water.

“This Old House” likes it too. The website’s many readers chose it as one of their “20 most loved historical, whole-house remodels.”

Calling it “A Home With a Lot of Heart,” TOH described the back story.

The couple met 10 years ago in Honduras. One night, Dan drew a heart in the sand by her bungalow, and put a conch shell in the middle.

A year later — tired of their long-distance relationship — Betsy moved her interior design business from North Carolina to Westport. Dan had grown up here; now he has 2 kids.

9 Danbury Avenue, before the renovation.

9 Danbury Avenue, before the renovation.

They wanted “a fresh start in a home that they could call their own, so they embarked on a remodel project that could either make or break their bond,” TOH reports. They found a 1930s Craftsman cottage on Danbury Avenue.

Yellow vinyl siding went. So did asphalt shingles. Up and in went stained glass windows, wood floors, cedar shingles.

The couple paid tremendous attention to historical detail, used expert artisans, and incorporated as much recycled material as they could. (They even found huge slabs from the sub-floor of a South Carolina cotton mill.)

The renovation was not easy. “I thought we’d get divorced and we weren’t even married yet,” Betsy told This Old House.

The back yard features stone paving, plants and a 2nd-store balcony.

The back yard features stone paving, plants and a 2nd-store balcony.

But with “love and devotion” to their home — and to each other — they made it work.

And that love theme is not just mushy words. Heart shapes fill the house everywhere (they’re even melded into doors and windows). It’s one part of this old house’s charm. Part of the reason the home — sitting on just 1/10 of an acre — is one of my favorites.

And part of the reason why “This Old House” readers love it too.

(Betsy and Dan’s house is not for sale. However, they recently bought the property across the street — 8 Danbury Avenue — and built a similarly stunning, Peter Wormser-designed, low country beach house, with fantastic water views. It just went on the market. If interested, email betsydesigns@hotmail.com or call 203-222-9693.) 

The kitchen is beautiful, homey, centrally located -- a perfect hangout space.

Betsy and Dan Kahn’s kitchen is beautiful, homey, centrally located — a perfect hangout space.

The front porch is a perfect place to relax -- or have a fireworks party.

The front porch is a perfect place to relax — or have a fireworks party.

9 responses to “This Old House Has Plenty Of Heart

  1. Leslie Smith Clarke

    Morning Dan, I love the article you wrote about Betsy and Dan’s house! It really was a labor of love. Their latest project with Peter Wormser 8 Danbury Ave is a classic beach cottage with modern flair.

  2. Gerry Kuroghlian

    In 1968, the house was owned by Jeanette Hofferman and was rented to local female teachers. Called THE ACTUAL LEMON because of the yellow siding, it was the scene of many weekend juke box parties. Prior to internet dating the LEMON served as the site for at least five marriage starts including my own. The Kahns are to be congratulated for tasteful renovation.

    • Gerry!! Most excellent story–Congratultions!!! Please feel free to revisit any time/ We have met several of the past tenants who shared with Dan and I their outrageous escapades– of parties on the roof top and climbing thru windows when other rooms were ‘occupied…,’ so, we agree– #9 danbury avenue has Fantastic (house) Karma!

      Also! Many thanks to local architect/artist–Hank Morehouse! Hank was a HUGE help in making our ideas=scribbles and photos, into reality=plans that got us thru ZBA and made us what we are today!

  3. Charming. Wonderful. Our community needs more such victories in defense of our domestic antiquity. Thank you for sharing this one with us today!

  4. What a beautiful home. It was worth every minute spent remodeling it! I lived on Danbury Ave for a few month s way back when and it is a great location. I hope you enjoy your wonderful home for many years to come!

  5. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    A gorgeous piece of work. And a revitalized treasure.

  6. Daniel Horowitz

    Hank Morehouse, a brilliant Westport architect, designed this delightful cottage. He deserves full credit.

  7. Sharon Paulsen

    So charming! Superb curb appeal, and backyard appeal, for that matter. Like an old English garden back there.
    I’m guessing this reno was completed BEFORE hurricane Sandy? If so, looks like the super construction held up against the super storm!

  8. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    Ahhh…… 9 Danbury, I remember moving back to town with my new family to 11 Danbury in 1980s next door to this house. # 9 then was occupied by the “boys of summer” Charlie Bacharach, Kevin Clark, Sean Doyle and various visitors. Many of the houses down around there then were affordable off season rentals at that time and local kids of Westport just out of college were able to live in town in what is now some of the most expensive real estate in town. Today there is very little, if any place, for our kids to come back to town and grow unless they come back to live with their families or land a job with a hedge fund.
    Just a comment, no longing for yesterday, just a fond remembrance.