Our clients, a busy professional couple with grown children, asked us to design a home characterized by quiet serenity, openness to the landscape, and a sense of spaciousness without monumentality. They desired a weekend retreat in a relaxed, civilized setting that is sympathetic to the need for privacy and sociability—in short, an antidote to the intensity of New York and the compression of apartment life.
Sited on three acres at the edge of a large pond, the house has distant views of the Atlantic Ocean. Mature pitch pines surround the site, while a thicket provides privacy from neighbors. The home consists of four areas: a master bedroom wing, guest wing, and public space, which are all connected by glass passageways. A planting and storage shed is kept at a distance and screened by bushes.
Low to the ground, the wood frame house is covered in cedar siding. The exterior is approximately twelve feet tall, and extends to seventeen feet in the living room with a clerestory. All of the living spaces are on one level except for a small reading loft and outdoor balcony, which offers views inside and out. In lieu of air conditioning, the home takes advantage of cross-breezes provided by the careful placement of operable windows.
The central and largest structure holds the kitchen, flanked by the living room on one side and the dining room on the other. The reading loft is located below. In the master bedroom wing, a dressing room and study is accompanied by a large bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. Three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, comprise the guest wing. To make the home as inviting as possible, each guest bedroom frames a distinctive view and has its own door to the outside.
Douglas fir panels and mahogany window frames define the interior spaces. A combination of Douglas fir and split face New York-honed bluestone covers the floors. The bluestone also clads the fireplace chimney, the living room’s most prominent element. Built-in bookshelves and custom furniture including beds, dressers, and benches are crafted from American cherry wood.
The Long Island House does not present itself all at once, but unfolds as one walks through or around it. The experience is simple and complex, serene and stimulating.
1999 AIANY Architecture Award