New York Beach House Makeover
Age is nothing but a number for a 1960s beach shack in Quogue, New York, with a fresh new look.
The homeowner of this elegant, light-filled home in Quogue still remembers the joys of her childhood in Miami Beach as if it were yesterday. “There was always a beach chair in the trunk of the car,” she reminisces. It’s no surprise, then, that when she and her husband found themselves living in Manhattan, they decided to begin a search for a weekend home on Long Island, where they could re-create for their growing family that relaxed seaside sensibility that still pressed so vividly upon her memory.
As chance would have it, they happened upon a perfect manifestation of that idyll on a barrier island sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the narrow waterway connecting Quantuck and Shinnecock bays. “It was a fairly nondescript rectangular box placed catty-corner on the land,” she recalls. “It had Swedish furniture left behind by the previous owners and killer views.” Thrilled to have found their unpretentious “shack on the beach”—a modest, 2,000-square-foot, wood-clad, four-bedroom number— they moved in, but that was nearly 30 years ago. The elements are never kind to the structural integrity of waterfront homes, especially ones punctuated with plenty of glass.
So in 2010, determined to protect their beloved weekend getaway and ensure that it stays up to the task of hosting the family for many more years to come, the homeowners reached out to New York designer Scott Sanders to helm what would become an ambitious nine-month renovation. The project not only rejuvenated the physical building, but also took into consideration the recent change in the family dynamic: The children are grown, and the couple is now feathering an empty nest.
With an eye to employing eco-friendly materials wherever possible, Sanders clad the exterior in weather-resistant, white-stained cedar shingles, replaced the windows, and ordered new plumbing and electrical systems. When it came to decor, though, he took a step back before moving forward, rethinking the entire layout of the home. “I wanted to streamline everything so that the house would flow better and be more open,” he explains. Sanders also wanted the home to feel more grown-up, a design directive that led him to elegant midcentury furnishings and sophisticated yet low-maintenance twills.
Left: The stools in the kitchen are from TK Collections.
The kitchen is now the heart of the home, boasting an efficient floor plan and bright blue walls. (“I love color,” says the wife. “You can take the girl out of Miami, but you can’t take Miami out of the girl.”) Sanders also elongated the breakfast area windows, amplifying light and views, and chose silvery gray cork tiles for the floor—economical and easy on the feet, and emanating a sheen similar to the glistening surface of the ocean in sunlight.
While many things have changed, however, one thing hasn’t: Because the husband is in a classic-rock cover band and the kids sing, music remains a principal activity for the family. “We always have music going and wine flowing,” says the homeowner. That meant the open, mezzanine-like space with a white piano had to be versatile enough to accommodate impromptu jam sessions. Sanders jettisoned the idea of a rug to make furniture easily movable and kept the palette creamy and neutral, focusing attention on the dunes and waves beyond the large picture windows.
In the bedrooms, client and designer let loose. Nodding to both her fondness for color and the 1960s provenance of the home, they decked the master suite in a groovy palette: fuchsia, lime green, and plum. “My husband said, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as I can have a humongous TV,’” she says with a laugh. “That’s how it should be. You can’t be too serious.”
Today the house is brighter and lighter, but its essential purpose is the same. “It’s the place where we recharge our batteries. We listen to music and the sound of the waves,” says the wife. “I’m aware of the privilege of having it, and I hope we have a lot more time in it to make more memories.”
Left: The stools are from Homenature.