In the winter, the cottage shakes so much that the toilet water sloshes in the bathrooms, and Victoria Bjorklund must retreat to her living room recliner to get some sleep at night.
As it gets warmer outside, the windows provide all-encompassing views of sailboat races on Hempstead Harbor.
This is life at Cliff Cottage. Built in 1908, the house overlooks the harbor from atop a steep drop in Sea Cliff.
After Hurricane Ida in 2021, the arts and crafts-style cottage was in danger of collapse after suffering severe water damage, said homeowner Victoria Bjorklund, 71. She and her husband, Hank Bjorklund, 72, moved into the house 15 years ago. She's a retired attorney, and he's a former New York Jets running back.
"Right now, it's a massive construction site," said Victoria. "The middle of the cliff blew out. Since that time, we have been working with engineers and contractors in the village to rebuild the cliff, and it's a massive undertaking."
Concrete and wooden beams line the cliff in tiers, all the way to the top. The patio is also being torn up to add more support underneath the house. There have been delays in obtaining construction materials, Victoria said.
But hopefully, the cliff will be restored in time for the couple's annual Fourth of July party, during which their family takes in fireworks across their 180-degree harbor view.
The house contains three stories, with two bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms. The couple purchased the house for $2.075 million in 2008.
"We had loved this house from the time we were teenagers," Victoria said. She grew up in Manhasset, while Hank was raised in Glen Head. It wasn't until they both graduated high school that they met, as undergraduate students at Princeton University.
"So this was an area we both knew well, and we actually looked at houses in Sea Cliff a number of times over the years," said Victoria. "But when we saw the cottage was on the market, we thought now's our chance, and we bought it."
The Bjorklunds have preserved the home's historic flair. There was once a dumbwaiter that could transport beverages from the kitchen (located on the lowest floor of the house) up to the second floor. The couple hired a contractor to remove the mechanism, but they use the remaining space as a coat closet, and the original door on the second floor is still there. The steep staircase is another original feature.
"We have applied to landmark the cottage so that it's always preserved in its original state," she said.
Glimpses of the harbor can be seen throughout most windows in the house. The most sweeping view is in what the couple calls "the oar room," filled with model ships on display, decorative oars on the ceiling and a couch that can be pulled out into a bed, which is a front-row seat to views of the shore.
Although the cliff is on the road to recovery, the cottage is still full of life: Hank hosts jam sessions with local musicians, and the Sea Cliff poetry club meets there regularly (the setting has inspired some writing by its members, Hank said).
Standing in the oar room, Hank reminisced: "We've been married over 50 years. Victoria fell instantly in love with this house. It was love at first sight, and that's the only time I can remember that ever happening so I knew at that point, we were gonna buy it," he said, as the couple laughed together.