Turning a Second Home Into a Primary Home


Ned Baldwin has also been making changes to his weekend house, now that his family is spending nearly all of their time there. Mr. Baldwin, the chef and owner of Houseman, a restaurant in Hudson Square, temporarily closed his business in March and relocated to Orient, on the North Fork of Long Island.

“I packed up the entire walk-in and I took everything that was perishable and sent a spreadsheet to friends in Orient,” said Mr. Baldwin, who is also the author of “How to Dress an Egg.” “Everyone placed orders and I packed up 40 shopping bags and drove them out in a friend’s pickup.” He waited at a shuttered farm stand, huddled against the wind, while his friends came by to pick up their food and Venmo payment. “And that was it. It was basically the last time I was in New York.”

Mr. Baldwin’s weekend home, a circa-1968 kit house which he bought some 15 years ago, needed upgrades to work as a primary residence. Chief among the changes was a larger bed for his 13-year-old daughter, Hazel. “The bed was a foot too short. For two weeks she had been sleeping on the couch, or with us, and I hadn’t even noticed,” recalled Mr. Baldwin, who also lives with his wife, Jordana, the director for cultural engagement at Everytown for Gun Safety, and their 15-year-old son, Irving. Mr. Baldwin built his daughter’s new bed himself, then he built her a desk so she could do her schoolwork.

Mr. Baldwin has returned to work at his restaurant, which has reopened, but his wife will likely continue working remotely for the foreseeable future. The family is planning to return to Manhattan in September as the children’s schools expect to open with a combination of remote and in-person learning.

Not everyone is convinced that the fall school semester will necessitate a return and some are contemplating remaining in their secondary — now primary — residence until the pandemic subsides. Joshua Rahn, co-founder of the venture fund Ocean Ventures, his wife, Jessica Contrastano, and their three children have been living in their home in Amagansett since mid-March. “It’s great here. I mean, if I didn’t know there was absolute chaos in the world, and if I didn’t have teenagers who miss their friends, I could do this forever,” he said.

Mr. Rahn’s children were set to attend the Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School and the NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies in September. “So they are all going to high-density environments,” he said. “As owners in Long Island, we pay taxes and the schools are great here, so we will wait and see.” He expects to make a decision on schools in the next several weeks.

Some are taking the changes in stride. “I work on a lot of charity boards with Covid-19 funds, donating and doing fund-raising,” said Jean Shafiroff, a philanthropist who is on the board of the Southampton Hospital Association and is a national spokeswoman for American Humane’s Feed The Hungry Fund, which cares for animals abandoned during the pandemic. “It puts everything in perspective. If we can’t go out for a year, we will survive. It’s fine.”


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