With classic shingles outside and a clean white palette inside, this waterfront cottage outshines the rest.

By Jeff Book
September 09, 2008

"No restaurant in the Hamptons has a better table than this," HalNeier declares over lunch on a broad deck overlooking Sag HarborCove. He and his wife, Kathleen Boyes, are regulars here-the deckextends from their house. In fair weather they eat many of theirmeals alfresco, with ingredients purchased from favorite localmarkets. The expansive deck is just one of the features that maketheir compact Hamptons hideaway seem spacious.

"We bought the house from the longtime owners, who sold it tous largely because we weren't going to change the outside,"Kathleen says. Some would have seen the 2-acre lot as a launchpadfor a shingled mega-manor. "But we only needed a house for two,plus occasional guests," Hal says.

Built in the 1930s as a simple summer bungalow, the2,100-square-foot, gambrel-roofed structure felt dim and cramped.An earlier remodel had removed original moldings and, amazingly,walled over the living room's water-view windows. "This was as mucha restoration as a renovation," Kathleen says. "We wanted to makeit look like it had always been this way."

You'd never know that almost everything is new. "We strippedthe structure to the studs, gave it new electrical, plumbing, HVAC,insulation, and insulated windows that match the architecture,"says architect Darren Helgesen, who worked with contractor VicIsraelian. "The floors were made level, the walls and ceilingsstraightened, the stairs redesigned for more headroom." To mimicold-fashioned flooring, they used 10-inch, tongue-and-groove redpine planks, surface-nailed every 32 inches. "I like the way thepine shows what I call 'life marks,' including scratches fromElizabeth, our golden retriever," Kathleen says. "Some say the darkstained floors aren't beachy, but I like the contrast with thewhite walls and ceilings."

Sliding-glass doors opened the sunporch to the outside, andKathleen and Hal added heating to make the space more appealingwhen the weather turns cold. New windows and glass doors pull viewsfrom the porch into the kitchen and living room, where the couplekept to a beige-and-white palette. Now the house is refreshinglypale and cool, like a linen suit. "Whenever we have extra time,we're here," Kathleen says. Whether tooling around in their boat,lounging by the pond, dining on the deck, or enjoying the outdoorshower (which features a second, handheld sprayer to rinseElizabeth after she goes for a swim), every moment at their seasideescape validates the massive overhaul of the modest house.

Upstairs, the couple resisted the urge to make the room withthe biggest view the master bedroom. Instead, it's an invitingstudy, furnished for reading, watching TV, or working. "Because ofthe view, Kathleen said this should be where we spend most of ourwaking hours," Hal explains. "We can steal away early on Friday andnot feel guilty, because it's a pleasure to work here!"