The 40-year-old summer home that once stood here, in the Long Island, N.Y., township of Southampton, at the junction of Shinnecock Bay and the Atlantic, was run-down. Moreover, its architecture did not take full advantage of the scenery: the bay to the north and the ocean to the south. So the owners, who live mostly in Manhattan, had it demolished. Their goal was to create a modern retreat in its place, with the outdoors as the focal point. “Because of the site, we knew every room could have an amazing view,” says the New York–based architect Alexander Gorlin. “So we built around that notion.”
Three years in the making, the finished 12,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom home is enclosed by Gorlin’s sleek limestone frame. The front façade features two cantilevered teak “boxes” that house his and her offices, the sunroom, and the kids’ bedrooms; the spaces pop out of the limestone for prime bay views. On the home’s opposite side, a glass facade looks out to the Atlantic and to the infinity pool and ocean-view terrace that receive shade from the structure’s zinc overhang.
The interiors, by David Scott, also of New York, reflect the home’s coastal setting. In the living room, a custom Carini Lang wool-and-silk carpet with blue swirls evokes the ocean. Jacob Hashimoto’s Slanting, the Sea, Silent hangs in the dining area, providing a breeziness that contrasts nicely with the slablike aluminum table.
To blend the inside with the outdoors, Scott relied on resilient elements. In the living room and the sunroom, the designer covered custom chairs and sofas with materials like absorbent terry cloth and hardy leather, which allow the family to come straight in from the pool or the beach without damaging the furniture. The floor-to-ceiling glass pocket doors help merge indoors and outdoors as one fluid space where the family can move about freely; the Afromosia teak floors and the carpets have been treated to repel moisture, and they require little upkeep. “We thought about durability a lot,” says Scott. “But we also wanted these practical elements to be as delicate as possible.”
Carefully selected furnishings—from the Hervé Van der Straeten lamps and an antique bronze cocktail table from Van den Akker Antiques in the living room to the shagreen pedestal tables from Kreiss Collection in the sunroom—lend sophistication. The various accent pieces, including Pamela Sunday’s sculpted metallic orbs and Renato Freitas’s photographs depicting marine life, further the ocean theme without being heavy-handed. The walls, in materials such as bamboo and patent leather, add texture.
Exterior walls of African teak extend to the inside of the home, creating for the homeowners a sight line to the coastland views. Nowhere is this effect more dramatic than in her master bathroom , where an outside teak wall continues inside, framing the ocean for viewing from the freestanding Duravit Oval bathtub by Philippe Starck.
The same richly hued teak appears throughout the home, from the living room and the indoor and outdoor kitchens to the pool cabana. In the cabana, the wood is pervasive, with panels of the material concealing the door and covering the ceilings and the walls. The structure, which, with its changing rooms, bathrooms, and storage space, is largely functional, embodies the homeowners’ desire for even the most mundane spaces to be well designed.
In the powder room, the absence of a window meant the outdoors had to be brought inside another way. Scott enlisted the help of the Parisian artist Sophie Millebranche, who created a woven metal wall panel with a fishnetlike texture to conjure a sense of the sea. A wall sconce from Hervé Van der Straeten and a custom oak-and-stone vanity by Scott complete the scene.
The nautical theme is amplified in the media room, where Scott’s selections—high-gloss wood paneling, maritime-inspired wall sconces, custom wool carpeting in a geometric pattern—recall the decor of a luxury cruise ship. “There was a lot of attention paid to creating spaces that feel almost like you are on a yacht,” he says. Because the oversize white leather recliners from Design Within Reach and the silver cocktail tables by Plantation are movable, the family can reconfigure them for a more casual environment when no guests are present. The moviegoers sit beneath a ceiling with an ultrasuede surface that absorbs sound.
Right Side Up
Contrary to the layout of most homes, the bustling areas of this residence are found on the second floor rather than the first. Though visitors enter on the ground floor, which comprises the guest rooms, fitness center, media room, and staff quarters, a formal entry hall with a steel-framed staircase immediately draws guests upward to the second floor, where a loft-style living room, dining room, and kitchen—all facing the pool deck and the ocean—are the main entertainment spaces.
The home’s switchback-style staircase culminates at the rooftop terrace, Gorlin’s favorite part of what he calls the “upside-down house.” Stretching along the structure’s length, the 4,500-square-foot deck affords panoramic views of the bay and the ocean and is the couple’s preferred spot to unwind with a cocktail. The limestone fireplace, which connects to the hearth in the living room below, provides warmth on chilly nights, while clusters of furniture by Tidelli and Frank Gehry create intimate seating areas. “When you sit down, all you see is water,” Gorlin says. “No one has a bad view in this house.”