At the Water's Edge

"Rooms with a View." Hayden, Sally. New York: Ryland Peters & Small, 2013
see project page here





Situated in Montauk, the famous fishing and surfing town perched at the tip of New York State's Long Island, this lakefront home is what architect Robert Young refers to as a 'hybrid'- it has elements of a traditional design crossed with clean, modern lines. The three elements of this home are carefully integrated, using materials that are common to the area. Cedar shingles, gabled roofs and white painted woodwork give a barn-like feel to the buildings, while large expanses of floor-to ceiling glass, exposed trusses and steel introduce a contemporary twist.

The brief the owners gave their architect was to create a house that would accommodate a growing family and close friends. They also wanted to make the most of the marvelous water views to the north, as well as the southern sun and breezes. The challenge was to design and position buildings on the site to maximize both.

The compound is made up of three separate buildings with distinct uses: the main house, the guest house- which doubles as a pool house and the garage. The overall architectural style remains consistent, and each of the buildings is based on the concept of one large central space that t is open to both the north and south. Occupants can enjoy the views on the north side, while sunlight and breezes from the south can penetrate through to the other side of the space.

Architecturally, the main house is made up of three volumes- two smaller gabled structures bookend a central space that sits under an open gabled roof, running perpendicular to its two wings. This vast living area has an open-plan kitchen at one end and comfortable seating and a dining area at the other. The exposed structural trusses are painted white, creating a spacious, lofty effect. The floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors on both northern and southern walls retract to create an open-sided room. The only subdivision here comes from the driftwood-clad partitions and storage elements that subtly demarcate the space.

This area is about relaxing, entertaining and sharing food with friends. Movements between the cooking and eating areas take place naturally and directly, and this simple but creative layout provides an opportunity for everyone in the room to have a sense of involvement with whatever is taking place. The large, L-shaped sofa is positioned to take in the view on one side and face the fireplace on the other. The kitchen area boasts a large island and open shelving for easy access.

At the far side of the house is a double storey containing bedrooms, a laundry room and a study. The upper floor is accessed by an open staircase with a sleek balustrade of steel cabling and yachting fixtures. While the bedrooms are separate, they are designed to maintain a sense of flow between one area and another, and curtains are used instead of doors to close them off. These are drawn neatly behind the built-in shelving unit of the living area when not in use, and also act as a screen for the open storage on the bedroom side.

The other gabled structure behind the kitchen houses the entrances and a guest bedroom. There are two arrival points to the house, the main one leading directly into the open living and kitchen space, and a 'mudroom' entrance, tucked in behind the beech hedge that runs along the front and back of the house. This access point has built-in seating and storage for boots, jackets and other all-weather paraphernalia, and is a containment area for sandy feet or wet clothing.