Tag Archives: Dan Kahn

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.

A Compo Halloween Houseboat

In the Compo Beach neighborhood — where densely packed houses draw chauffeured trick-or-treaters from across Westport (and waaaay beyond)* — Halloween is not orange.

It’s black or white. You either love it (and embrace it). Or you hate it (and go dark).

“Dark is for wimps,” Betsy Kahn says. “We completely go with it.”

“Completely” is right. Here’s what her Danbury Avenue home looked like before the hordes of Halloweenies descended.

Betsy Kahn house

This is the 3rd year in a row Betsy and her husband Dan have “decorated” their house with a theme. In 2011, the “ship” was buried in snow. Last year, Hurricane Sandy’s surging seawater made the “ship” a little too realistic.

But Betsy and Dan loved the boat so much, they dismantled it and saved it for another (non-rainy) day.

“Halloween at the beach is our favorite night of the year,” Betsy says. No word on whether she and Dan dressed up. If they did, I’m sure they were pirates.

*There’s a reason this story is running the day after Halloween. If I posted this yesterday, Compo would have been even more overrun than usual. Neighborhood holiday-haters would have spewed their venom on me.

A Bright Way To Start The Day

I got this a bit late to post last night — but I hate to let a good rainbow go to waste.

Alert “06880” reader Emily  Chen shot this at the Sherwood Island Mill Pond after yesterday’s thunderstorm.

Sherwood Island Mill Pond Rainbow -- Emily Chen

And Dan Kahn added this, from Danbury Avenue:

Danbury Avenue rainbow

Not a bad way to begin the weekend!

Teardown With A Twist

Compo Beach is a true “neighborhood.” Many homes on Soundview and its side streets have been in the same family for decades.

One of the those old, familiar houses was 8 Danbury Avenue. Teri Klein grew up in the magical cottage — and so did her children and grandchildren. They held weddings and parties there, ran on the beach, and admired the spectacular views.

8 Danbury Avenue.

8 Danbury Avenue.

Unfortunately, the house sat level with the ground. Hurricane Sandy damaged it beyond repair.

Today it was demolished.

(Photos by Betsy Phillips)

(Photos by Betsy Phillips)

But this is not a typical Westport tear-down-a-small-old-house-and-throw-up-a-huge-new-one story.

Two couples living nearby — Dan Kahn and Betsy Phillips,  and Peter Wormser and Liz Milwe — bought the house from Teri. Peter — a very talented architect and artist — incorporated much of the quaint and magical details of the old home into a new design.

The next 8 Danbury Avenue house will be built on a higher foundation than the previous one — new FEMA and local regulations have made sure of that. But there will still be a rocking-chair front porch, a similar look, the same Low Country southern charm.

The new home will be something increasingly rare in Westport: a new but familiar house.

“We’re beach people,” Betsy explains simply.

Once In A Blue Moon…

…Betsy Phillips and Dan Kahn have a wedding celebration at Compo Beach.


(Photos/Diane Cunningham)