Smart mothers know better than to bring their young children on trips to the grocery store. The little ones tend to lobby vigorously for things that, in the end, will benefit no one but the family dentist. And they probe, at high volume, matters that Mommy may not want to discuss in public.
Courtney Henggeler can speak with some authority on this topic. Not long ago, she was wheeling her cart through the supermarket when her 4-year-old son, Oscar, loudly asked, “Why do we have so many houses?”
“People who were listening must have thought we were very wealthy,” said Ms. Henggeler, 42, who co-stars in the hit Netflix series “Cobra Kai,” a spinoff of 1984’s “The Karate Kid.” (She also appeared on “The Big Bang Theory” as Sheldon’s twin sister, and had a recurring role in the first few seasons of “Mom.”) “It’s just that we move around. I film ‘Cobra Kai’ in Atlanta, and we were in a house for three months one year, and the next year we were in another house.”
Oscar may be relieved to know that his family — until recently based in Los Angeles, also in a series of rentals — is zeroing in on a permanent address. A year or so ago, Ms. Henggeler, who grew up in the Poconos and in Seaford, Long Island, and her husband, Ross Kohn, a movie producer who was raised in Westchester, decided to move back to New York and settle there to be closer to Ms. Henggeler’s ailing mother.
The plan: to rent for a few years and then build their dream house.
Courtney Henggeler, 42
In the pink: “It was very important to me to have a soft-pink bedroom for my daughter. Poor kid. She’s probably, like, ‘I just want a blue wall, Mom.’”
“I’d been to a million weddings before I got married, so I kind of figured out what I wanted and didn’t want for my own wedding,” said Ms. Henggeler, who married Mr. Kohn in 2015 and had a second child, a daughter, Georgie, almost two years ago. “I felt the same about houses. I’ve lived in so many that I kind of knew what I wanted.”
What she wanted from a rental “seemed kind of absurd, and my husband looked at me as if I had five heads. But I said, ‘We’ll find it.’”
They found it — and more — in the form of a brand-new transitional colonial in Huntington, N.Y. It had four bedrooms. She would have settled for two bathrooms, but got four and a half. A light, bright kitchen with a six-burner stove? Check. Crown moldings? (In abundance.) Dark hardwood floors? (Be still, her heart.)
“I never knew how important flooring was,” she said. “My previous homes had orange-y wood. I stay up at night looking at wood flooring on Instagram.”
The backyard is smaller than she would have liked, as is the sole bathtub. Family baths, a favorite routine, are now on hold. But those deficiencies were offset by the basement exercise room (“I was like, ‘Who am I, with a gym in my house?’”); the radiant-heat floors in the bathroom (“My children are now, like, ‘I can’t live without heated floor, Mommy,’ and I’m, like, ‘Me, too,’”); the central vacuum system (“What a princess I’ve become; I can’t live without this now, either”); and the kitchen’s instant hot-water dispenser.
But Ms. Henggeler was thrilled practically senseless by the foyer, which she has outfitted with a bench and a pillow. “It’s actually my favorite little spot in the house,” she said. “In the house we left in Los Angeles, you walked in and you were immediately in the living room, and that drove me bonkers.”
But wait! There’s more: a mudroom. “I always wanted one,” she said. “I love what people do with them. A mudroom is a functional space, but you can have fun with it.”
Her idea of fun, in this case, centers on baskets — on coat hooks, under the bench, holding gloves and scarves and grocery bags. “I have a hard time saying no to a basket,” she said. “It’s probably the thing I bought most of for this house. My attitude is: Let’s make it beautiful.”
Mr. Kohn’s outerwear apparently falls well short of that standard. “Ross wants to hang his jacket in the mudroom, and I tell him to put it in the closet,” Ms. Henggeler said.
Another example of their differing views on décor: He likes a modern look with clean lines, while she gravitates toward old houses and feminine touches. “I came into the relationship with a lot of sparkly things,” she said.
Out of regard for her husband’s feelings, she has designated Georgie’s room her “girlie-girl outlet,” painting it a blush-rose and using it as a repository for treasures from her own childhood, among them a mirror, some books and framed pictures. Ms. Henggeler sums it up nicely: “The room looks like my apartment would look now if I hadn’t married a man who doesn’t want to live in a house with pink.”
But she understands the appeal of a different palette. She loves how the slate-gray walls in the dining room set off the collection of Jim Marshall rock-star photographs she inherited from her godfather.
She says her aesthetic is evolving — though how exactly she isn’t quite sure, apart from moving in the direction of the California-chic look embodied by the designer Jenni Kayne.
She is contemplating the acquisition of a chaise longue for the living room. It will take over the spot that was, until recently, filled by a mattress that she and Mr. Kohn bought for the first home they shared. “We didn’t want to take it to the curb until garbage-collection day, so we put it in here. But our kids loved jumping on it, and it stayed for another seven months,” Ms. Henggeler said.
“At the moment,” she added, “I’m in the there’s-nothing-a-throw-blanket-won’t-fix phase of design.”