Houzz Tour: Style and Surprise in The Hamptons
Experience a Montauk Beach House That's All About Easy Living and Discovery
Mention The Hamptons, and instantly images of gargantuan beach vacation palaces superimposed on the rolling grassy landscape are conjured. It's almost a farce to call these residences beach houses. Choosing not to fall victim to that cliché, Robert Young Architects opted for understated and casual elegance when designing the primary residence for a family in Montauk. The 4,500-square-foot main home and 1,800-square-foot guesthouse are quietly nestled on a lakefront compound. Practicality and simplicity synonymous with coastal living is the central theme. Modern and unique accents add to the design, resulting in the perfect balance of function and style to create a uniquely livable dream home.
20 Spectacular Beach Houses | Browse beach-house photos
20 Spectacular Beach Houses | Browse beach-house photos
Pulling up the driveway, the first evidence of the home you will discover is the garage, aptly called the barn, on your right. Designed in the same language as the rest of the house, the barn completely opens up on both sides enabling a car to drive through and down to the water if needed. As you make your way through the property, you encounter the smallest structures first so as not to overwhelm your personal experience and discovery of the site. The compound was designed completely with the human scale in mind.
Once reaching the main house, the full scale of the home is still withheld from view. The roofline at the entrance to the main house is lower and more understated, with the larger two-story portion of the home receding to the back of the property. The residence is composed of two properties the owners were able to acquire over time to really create the feeling of a genuine sprawling coastal compound.
The main entry could easily be any other exterior door. There is nothing pretentious or exclamatory about any of the design decisions made for this home. The front door merely serves as a portal between exterior and interior spaces.
The approach and entrance to the house is a game of hide and reveal. There is an intentional delayed visual gratification. Although you are given an idea that the home is waterfront as you drive onto the property, the circulation of the entrance follows a path that withholds any view of the lake until you have reached the core of the home.
Even at the entry of the house, you are forced to walk past a reclaimed driftwood wall, which is the kitchen, on your left and into the living room. It is only there where you get the full experience of the view.
Whether lounging on the PK22 Easy Chairs or napping on the Long Island Sectional, the living room serves as the physical center of the house, but also the psychological core. “The house was really designed from the inside out for the family inside,” explains architect Robert Young. As both walls fully open to connect the view, the sun, and the breeze, all physical as well as social elements converge here.
Custom built-ins at the far end of the living room bring the substantial expanse of the room back down to human scale. The handmade walnut dining table adds a single moment of color to an otherwise monochromatic palette.
The home intentionally lacks color in order to more clearly reveal texture. The "composition of the house creates a dialogue between the different elements — glass, aluminum, steel, and wood. It is a pared-down design, but in no way minimal," continues Young.
Designed to resemble a Swedish barn, the massive structural trusses enable the primary living area to be one open, continuous, and uninterrupted space. With the structure of the home made solely of wood, the natural warping and wear of the planks has been something Young has enjoyed witnessing as the house ages. Young notes that it was quite a struggle convincing a perfectionist contractor that in this case, gaps between floorboards were okay.
Most family meals take place in the kitchen. Stainless steel and White Gioia Venatino marble were carefully selected for the countertops due to their visual and material characteristics. As both materials age, they will visually show the wear of use, and in the opinion of the architect, become more beautiful. It is the imperfections that make these spaces beautiful and livable.
Moving your gaze from the kitchen and onto the lake, notice there is also an open pass-through to a screened dining porch outside.
Material selection is a great way to connect the interior with the exterior of the house. Materials used in the kitchen continue outside and onto the porch in order to eliminate the threshold between inside and out.
The slope of the landscape gives the master bedroom an unobstructed view across the property and out onto the lake. Constantly aware of the home’s proximity to the ocean, Young designed the house in many ways like a ship. Modest built-ins and low-maintenance materials allow the family to really enjoy the home as opposed to constantly working to keep up such an expansive beach house.
Maintaining a balance of traditional and modern elements is as much a part of the theme as the low-maintenance coastal influence. Here a claw-foot tub paired with a modern deck-mounted sink keeps the design fresh and unpredictable.
The outdoor shower is conveniently located just off the master bedroom. The family uses this shower in summer or can use it to rinse off after a swim in the pool.
“Many guests who visit the house would say that the girls' bedroom is their favorite room in the house,” adds Young. These bunk beds were custom designed for three young sisters who share this space together. The furnishings, as well as the architecture and interior, were all designed by Robert Young Architects. The homeowners were very involved, resulting in a collaborative and creative process.
Located at the opposite end of the house, the guest bedroom is more commonly referred to as the guest house due to its seclusion from the rest of the bedrooms. Again, a neutral palette and fuss-free materials are key here.
The constant juxtaposition of traditional and modern continue in the guest bathroom with the rustic painted white-pine planks and the modern sink. The muted palette and the slate tile flooring reiterates the monochromatic theme.
When entering the compound, a single path diverges to create two parallel paths: A direct route leads you straight to the front door of the home — or you can choose the secondary path that meanders along the lake and ends at this mudroom entrance. Once inside the house, the two paths converge once again.
"The landscape was designed to look like it wasn't designed," continues Young. Due to environmental regulations, the first 50 feet from the water has to serve as a natural buffer. The plants found naturally in that area were then incorporated into the landscape design. The vegetation was planted in swaths as it occurs naturally, resembling brush strokes on the landscape.
Robert Young Architects designed the landscape in collaboration with Brady Mitchell Anderson Landscape Architecture in order to maintain a smooth continuity between the structures and the environment. The design is simple, clean, and relies heavily on native plants.
While the massive expanse of the perfectly manicured lawn around the pool sharply contrasts the surrounding vegetation and nautralistic style that dominates the majority of the property, it creates a clean visual landing and also allows young kids to safely play around the pool.
Looking across the pool and lower portion of the landscape, you can just make out the guest house nestled in the right corner of this photo. From the main house to the lawn and pool, there is a grade change of 10 feet; just enough to visibly maintain a comfortable sense of seclusion and privacy for each space.
The ability to lose yourself in one area of the compound while still maintaining close proximity to another is the genius of this design. Passing from the main house to the guest house, you encounter this stone staircase as you move down through the landscape. The approach was carefully executed in a way that cuts off all visual and physical connection with the main house once you reach the guest house.
Upon discovery, you realize that the guest house design nearly mirrors that of the main house, even down to the sliding glass walls and muted materials and color palette.
The boathouse, as the family calls it, gets opened up during the summer for visiting guests. Its close proximity to the pool makes it a very convenient lounge and changing area.
For that reason, while the style and materials mimic the design of the main house, many were left a little unfinished and often cost less. The kitchen in the previous photo, for example, is from IKEA.
Just as swiftly as if never discovered, the compound fades quietly into the landscape as you leave, and will continue to exist in hidden perfection. I thank Robert Young Architects and the owners of this seclusive gem for allowing the Houzz community and me a glimpse into the beautifully concealed realm of The Lake House.
Photography by Michael Moran.
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Ideabook updated on Jan. 10, 2012.
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