A Ground-Up Home Construction Gives One Family a Great Escape
A local architect gives one family a home away from home in the Hamptons.
Photos by Stefan Radtke
This ground-up construction was built on a previously vacant lot in Wainscott, NY. Westchester architect Scott Hirshson, landscape designers, and interior designers worked together to create a home away from home for an international family who often hosts extended family from abroad.
The homeowners wanted a sophisticated beach house. “Scandinavian pieces in wood pair with contemporary items in metal and fabric,” says Hirshson about the home’s interior. “The home feels comfortable from the moment you enter the foyer onto the sisal rug to staying in a guest suite, where the ceilings are painted a calm shade of blue.”
"It was essential that the house feel laid back, comfortable and bright," adds interior designer Edda Elias. "We achieved this using a light neutral color palette, soft textures, and cozy furniture selections and layered in fun oversized light fixtures, unexpected pops of color, and a few whimsical touches in all areas."
The entire design team worked together from the beginning, which made all of the design choices harmonious. The family hired Hirshson after seeing a house he and his team designed the previous year.
“The first thing we did was sit down and hash out what the average weekend looks like, including number of guests, friends, and pets; where they could gather as large groups; and then [how] to create more intimate spaces to simply relax.”
The team paid special attention to how sound travels through the house, which resulted in a single-story foyer. The staircase was also placed in a quiet spot in the house, so family sleeping on the second floor would not be disturbed by activity in the large, first-floor rooms. (These are details to pay close attention to when designing a vacation home.)
The house is 5,600 square feet of aboveground space and 2,120 square feet of basement, which includes a media room, a wine cellar, recreation room with game tables, and a room with bunk beds. The home also has 700 square feet of balcony space and 700 square feet of covered patio. There are eight bedrooms, seven full baths, and two half baths.
“The entry foyer sets the tone for the entire house,” says Hirshson. “The walls are covered in faux-linen vinyl from Weitzner. The texture of the wallcovering carries from the foyer into the first-floor gallery, up the stair hall, and through the circulation of the second floor.”
“The family, whom we worked on their city apartment with, asked for a relaxed, easily maintained interior,” says Elias. “Our selections reflected their desire for easy living.”
The Dining Room
The dining room and the great room both have a stepped ceiling painted in a deeper blue than the surrounding trays.
“The color distinguishes the subtle architectural detail and provides a strong background for the contemporary light fixtures,” says Hirshson. “A custom cabinet from Bilotta provides storage as well as a serving surface for the large table. Wallcoverings by Phillip Jeffries provide a complementary texture to the vinyl of the adjacent entry and gallery. The furniture, sourced from Janus et Cie, offers ample seating around a modern dining table.”
The Family Room
This space features pocket doors for privacy, a coffered ceiling, and shiplap on the walls.
“Unlike the open great room, this room conveys a sense of intimacy with two sectional couches set around a large bamboo coffee table,” says Hirshson. “We tried to make smart choices that were user-friendly — indoor/outdoor solution dyed acrylic, stain-repellent finishes, texture, and pattern to hide stains or just easy cleanability like the classic linens, wools, and cotton fibers," says Elias.
“We particularly love the kitchen and breakfast rooms where the slightly irregular mottled glaze on the backsplash tiles from Heath Ceramics, the blonde wood and light gray lacquered cabinetry composition by Ciuffo, and the wonderfully figural honed Utopia Pearl stone used on the kitchen island were compounded by the view through the windows and patio doors,” says Elias. “The kitchen strays far from the white kitchens often associated with a beach home yet retains a casual feel through the selected finishes,” Hirshson says.
The Great Room
This room lies adjacent the entry foyer. A NanaWall system allows the owners to open the living space to the outdoor terrace, pool, and beyond. The space also includes a wood-burning fireplace, custom cabinets, and flexible seating that allows the family to engage with guests in the kitchen as well as those enjoying the pool.
Nearly every room in the house has direct access to the outdoors — essential for a beach house — either through NanaWall or French doors opening onto a terrace. “The NanaWall blurs the line between inside and outside living, which is key,” says Elias.
Every room also features something from the homeowners’ beautiful collection of art, which adds splashes of color throughout. “The owners enjoy collecting art. Therefore, having large walls to display some of their favorite pieces was an important element to the layout of each room.”
But Hirshson’s favorite part of the house he designed isn’t structural: It’s the light. “I love the way light filters into the house through the main circulation space,” he says. “Facing north, the light fills the family room and overflows into the entry foyer. There, southern light envelopes the great room, casting additional natural light into the foyer. The effect is amplified by the texture of the wallcovering and soft gray hue of the oak floors.”
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