Like many homes ripe for a renovation, this 1970s Hampton Bays residence had long suffered an identity crisis. Its former owners had inflicted a heavy hunting lodge aesthetic upon it, complete with wall-mounted deer heads, paisley wallpaper and dark mahogany floors. Luckily, when the house went on the market, a Manhattan couple— he’s a financier, she’s in the film industry—recognized its charm and potential. “It was a big house with unbelievable water views and we thought it would be a fantastic place to host family and friends,” says the wife. “But we knew it needed some work.”
What started out as a small-scale, four-month remodel—ready just in time for a Memorial Day barbecue—soon morphed into an extensive rehab. Although the scope of the project shifted dramatically, the deadline was resolute, and designer Steffani Aarons and architect Steven Wakenshaw were hired to conquer the monumental task. Working alongside them was builder John Devito, who noted, “While our team worked some very late nights to meet the deadline, a lot of the credit goes to the design team. Because of such a streamlined communication process, we were able to complete a project in four months that would usually take a year.”
Wakenshaw restored the multicolored, gingerbread-like exterior to its quintessential Hamptons glory using weathered cedar shingles. He also ousted the large, densely mullioned windows in favor of expansive panes that liberated the sun and the views. “The existing house definitely had a rather muddled aesthetic,” says the architect. “But we simplified the house to harmonize better with its surroundings.”
Also restored to their full Hamptons glory were the outdoor areas, which Wakenshaw collaborated on with landscape designer Stephen Tupu. “The site was big enough to allow us to really create a variety of exterior spaces that fulfill many purposes for the family throughout the day,” explains Tupu. “Spaces like the outdoor dining area, the terrace and the pool serve as a prime play area for the kids, but easily transition into chic entertaining areas for the adults in the evening.”
Inside, the dark floors were replaced with hardwearing white oak, which also contributed to the brightening of the home and its beachy vibe. While the homeowners desired some kind of nautical tribute for the de´cor, they preferred a subtler approach. “We didn’t want the house to be inundated with shells and anchors,” says the wife, who asked Aarons to derive inspiration for the interior design from two silk pillows she picked up in Thailand—their vibrant hues representing the sun (orange) and water (turquoise).
In the combined kitchen and dining room, for example, turquoise shows up in the Ann Sacks Gotham tiles that line the backsplash— their embossed pattern simulating a rippling water effect. Surrounding the glass-topped Paul Mathieu dining table are iconic Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs in a saturated aqua blue.
To make sure that the home’s trademark colors would pop, they were anchored into a monochromatic background. Strong silhouettes in the form of, say, the living room’s partially domed Jens Risom Big chairs— a modern take on the classic wing variety—and the crescent-shaped Vladimir Kagan Couture sofa in the family room help create sculptural interest in such a neutral context.
In the master bedroom, however, the ocean shading is, well, left to the ocean. Thanks to the room’s corner location, a curtain wall of glass provides a vast panorama of the water. “You almost feel like you’re on a boat,” says Aarons, who dressed the room in tones of gray and white to play up the deep blue outside, but included soft and shaggy textures to evoke warmth and comfort—a clever tactic that keeps the view from stealing the show. The master bath is more overt about such things; a vibrant blue and green mosaic tile wall from Italy is practically a floor- to-ceiling art piece—an unapologetic, and very pretty, attention seeker.
Color isn’t the only element providing depth throughout the home. A myriad of textures, a vast flokati rug, for instance, gives the family room a billowy air; the white lacquered kitchen cabinets are a slick touch; and the new stone fireplaces go a long way toward building character in what could be considered a brand-new house. However, it’s the family’s prized possessions, ranging from Aboriginal paintings to edgy black-and-white photography, that genuinely create dimension in the home. “It’s these layers of our lives that make a house feel truly lived-in,” says Aarons.