Twenty years ago, after Del and Karoline Ross got married, they looked at a cottage on Houghton Boulevard in Stony Brook, full of charm and built in the early 1900s. They loved the place, but at the time its price tag of around $100,000 was too expensive for the newlyweds, so they began looking elsewhere.
Five years ago, the Ross family moved into that very house.
"It's funny how things work out," Del Ross said.
The house had become "basically a brand new home," he said. Though a few pieces of the old cottage remain, the home now more closely resembles a four-bedroom, three-bathroom cape. The Ross family bought the home, which sits on a pizza-slice-shaped parcel of land measuring at just under half an acre, for about $700,000 in 2005.
Inside the home, Del and Karoline Ross have filled it with thoughtful details and inherited treasures, including a piano that's over 300 years old in the living room and a church pew from the 1700s in the entrance hallway. An antique telephone chair, recently refurbished, which belonged to Del's great grandmother. Pictures and portraits which are a tribute to their love for horse racing, sailing in Port Jefferson and skiing in Vermont.
"Everything that we have, it's very meaningful to us," Del Ross said.
The kitchen was designed with a viking stove and granite countertops. A table was custom made from the floorboards of an old barn. The family of five does a lot of cooking there, and around the holidays, sometimes 20 to 30 people will visit their home to celebrate.
"It's open, it's warm," Karoline Ross said. "This is where we all congregate."
Upstairs, the keyword is cool. Three bedrooms, a pretty-in-pink bathroom and a comfy common area have been outfitted for Del and Karoline's three daughters, Ali, 18, Emily, 15, and Olivia, 9.
"It's like a sorority house for the girls," Karoline said.
The home's sunroom features a wall from the original exterior of the home, but it has been modernized into a kind of media center, with a surround sound system and flat screen TV. In the study, the walls are lined with bookcases recycled from a home renovation in Old Field and refurbished by Karoline's brother, Dan Mosko of St. James. The bookcases, majestic fireplace, and cello in one corner lend an academic feeling to the room.
"There was a reason to everything that we did and our thought process around it," Del Ross said.