Oceanfront Home – Water Mill, NY

  • A long carved-wood trestle bench beckons to guests in this tableaux replete with Chinese Chippendale tables.

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We began designing this waterfront weekend house in Water Mill, Long Island, overlooking both the Atlantic Ocean and Mecox Bay, over twenty years ago – and we venture to say it has stood the test of time. In fact, like any good house, the design we forged in the early 1990s has demanded change and evolution; but there is a certain consistency of style and predilection–both the client’s and ours–for art, furniture and artifacts, European and American, of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For a Shingle Style house on a grand scale–9000 square feet–our penchant for spareness was challenged by the obvious need for a sense of fullness in the rooms.

East Hampton architect Francis Fleetwood, who built the house for Hirsch, had endowed it with aspects derived from late-19th century sources: porches, facades, fireplaces, shingles and wood paneling. Yet finally the house evinces a late twentieth century simplicity, a subtle drive towards modernity. In furnishing the house, we endeavored to strike a balance between old-fashioned comfort and warmth and modern legibility.

Fleetwood’s design is notable for its many windows–and window seats–giving the house an extraordinary lightness. Therefore we were able to place rather deeply colored, rich furniture in it–Shaker and Mission pieces; Arts and Crafts era antiques; fin de siecle Austrian elements. The result is a house that is welcoming to its many summer guests, yet cozily suited to romantic winter weekends a deux.