In residential architecture, the relationship between house and landscape—between indoors and outdoors—is never more important than in a vacation home. These houses are where families go to relax, to get away from what they do every day at work or school, to entertain guests, and to reconnect with each other. And it typically happens in the warmer months, when people feel the urge to spend as much time outside basking in nature as possible.
In North Haven, New York, a couple with three children decided to build a secondary house where they could do all of that. They brought on architect Blaze Makoid of Blaze Makoid Architecture of Bridgehampton, New York, interior designer David Scott of David Scott Interiors in New York City, and landscape architect Edmund Hollander of Hollander Design Landscape Architects of New York and Chicago, who all worked together to design a special seasonal house that not only fits the family’s lifestyle but also the house’s location.
“When they pulled up to the house, they wanted to see the water,” says Makoid about what drove the overall plan. “They wanted to know when they arrived why they chose that property.” So, he designed the central living room to be “a two-sided glass box so you can see right through to the bay.” Glass panels open up both sides, making the entire area feel like a large courtyard that the rest of the house circulates around.
And the rest of the house? It packs a big punch. After three years of designing and building within the limited footprint that was allowed, it was finished. There are seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, three powder rooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, and an office all in 7,500 square feet surrounded by Hollander’s landscape, which incorporates native plantings and stretches of lawn.
The first-level spaces are geared for easy circulation and indoor/outdoor connections, while the second floor, made up of mostly bedrooms and a roof deck, is for entertaining lots of guests. In the primary bedroom suite, the view across the bay with Shelter Island to the north and Sag Harbor to the east is optimized with a glass corner that opens to a private balcony, where there’s an outdoor fireplace and an exterior private staircase that leads down to the pool and hottub area. On the other side of this suite, the house’s main staircase, made of curved glass and Venetian plaster that extends to the ceiling, anchors the interior as an impressive visual element.
Despite all this, Scott says, “The most interesting thing about the house is that it is not intimidating. It’s compact with a lot of details and it exudes quality.”
“We spent a lot of time with our clients on the palette of the materials, what would be durable and consistent,” says Makoid about the limestone panels, teak cladding, and metal panels used outside. Since the relationship between the outside and inside is so strong, these materials are found inside as well. In the dining room, for example, teak that clads the outside comes in and wraps interior walls, and a Venetian plaster ceiling is both outside and inside.
For the interior design, Scott says, “They wanted something that was elegant but livable and quite contemporary.” He developed a color scheme from a photograph he took during his travels in Patagonia. “That’s how the design process works a lot of the time—those kernels of inspiration, whatever they may be, can be strong parts of how we create the color scheme and guide our furniture selections,” says Scott.
In this case, white, beige, and golden tones were mostly used to evoke that Patagonian landscape, with bright teal accents suggesting a brilliant river. Within this palette, “Most of the furnishings are contemporary and I curated the entire art collection for this house,” says Scott, pointing out the Charles Ramos armchairs in the living room, a Bert Stern Marilyn photograph in the office, and a Murano vintage eight-tiered smoked glass chandelier above that central staircase.
A typical Saturday for this family involves waking up, grabbing breakfast, going out for a run, a swim, a bike ride, or a tee time, and then gathering back at the house to relax and be together with whatever friends and family members are visiting. This house supports that lifestyle while also being stylish and deeply connected with nature. “We wanted to dissolve the idea of being inside or outside,” says Makoid. “We wanted to make every space in the project occupiable.” And when it’s full of people during the summer or for a weekend holiday, every space is.