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A day at the beach

For Joe and Kathy Curatolo of Clarence, a summer cottage in Crystal Beach, Ontario isn’t just a home — it’s a lifestyle.

The Curatolos’ “Rose Cottage” — built in the earliest days of the Crystal Beach Tennis & Yacht Club development, where Crystal Beach amusement park once stood — sits at the point where the old Comet roller coaster once reached its apex. The original stone wall on the couple’s property, carved with images of ballroom dancers, is the only evidence of the area’s former life as an amusement park; today it’s a vibrant community dotted by adorable Victorian cottages with beautiful gardens, a neighborhood pool and tennis courts, and a sunny, summer-living attitude.

Joe Curatolo humbly describes their own place as a “two-bedroom cottage on a 40-foot-wide lot,” but that’s a bit deceiving; the cottage contains three stories with 3,500 square feet of living space, right along the shore of Lake Erie. Built in 1994, it’s the definition of beach cottage, with a wide-open floor plan and a shabby chic aesthetic dominating the décor. Most of it is a labor of love for the Curatolos, who never stop picking up pieces to add to the beachy ambiance; some high-end, like the MacKenzie-Childs pottery and Limoges china, but even more flea market and curbside finds, like old tables, chandeliers and more, re-painted and given beautiful new life.

Sun room

The Curatolos spend their summers at the cottage, rarely venturing home to Clarence; they host and entertain family and friends, including a slew of nieces and nephews, as much as possible. The cottage sleeps 17 comfortably; but just in case, the couple built “Rosebud” on their lot — a sleeping “shed” that contains two beautifully-appointed queen beds — to make sure they could accommodate the overnight overflow. The couple stresses their open-door policy.

Chalk board“We always set an extra seat for dinner,” said Kathy. “And we always make extra food.”

In the 20 years they’ve lived there, the Curatolos have painted, added and subtracted many times; “It was once brown, and now it’s white,” said Kathy, the former owner of Victorian Romance home store in Williamsville. For her, decorating and repurposing is a passion. Even Joe, who owns and runs Georgetown Capital Group, gets into the action, crackle-painting tables when he’s not advising investors.

“I had no idea what beach life was like,” said Joe, who grew up in the Bronx. Today, though, they’ve clearly taken to the lifestyle; there’s a wall-sized blackboard in the kitchen detailing last summer’s family adventures, which ranged from a beach glass hunt to a poker tournament to a trivia contest and lawn dice.

For Joe, Crystal Beach provides an easy commute to his Williamsville office; for Kathy, who dislikes flying, it’s a vacation close to home. For their family and friends, it’s a place to come together, break bread and relax.

“It’s about time with family and making memories,” explained Joe. “That’s why we bought it.”

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