You can tell a lot about a person by which section of the newspaper they reach for first. Not surprisingly, when designers George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg opened their New York Times one fateful Sunday, they bypassed the circulars, the comics, the sports section, and headed straight for real estate. “George was looking at the pictures, and we were just talking about how lovely it would be to have a house on the beach,” says Pushelberg. “Everything just seemed so idyllic.”
They were so inspired, in fact, that two weeks later, they drove out to the Hamptons to see if they couldn’t score a piece of paradise for themselves, ultimately putting in an offer on a 1980s shingle-style home in Amagansett, situated on an enchanting double dune overlooking the Atlantic. “We walked in and just kept staring out at the water and the beach, and we loved it,” says Pushelberg. “To be honest, we didn’t even really look at the rest of the house.” And they didn’t have to—with their experience crafting interiors for megabrands like the W Hotel, Barneys and Kate Spade, the duo has built their illustrious career around tackling ambitious remodels.
So, when the cramped rooms and awkwardly sited existing structure proved to be major disappointments, they didn’t hesitate to start from scratch: reaching out to local architect Frederick Stelle to help them draft plans for a breathtaking contemporary structure that would be a formidable partner for both their love of entertaining and the remarkable ocean views. “We’ve known Fred for a long time and knew that he was the right person to help us,” says Yabu. “We needed someone that we could collaborate with, who also had a strong point of view of his or her own.”
Inspired by the Hamptons’ rich history of modernism dating back to the 1950s, they erected a sleek, sculptural residence—featuring one rectangular box-like shape elegantly cantilevered over another rectangular box-like shape below and connected via an outdoor staircase. The result is a home that is equal parts relaxing retreat for its owners and intimate bed-and-breakfast for the couple’s many friends.
All of the public areas—living room, dining area and kitchen—are located in the top building, along with Yabu and Pushelberg’s master bedroom and office suite. The lower level, in the meantime, features a series of soothing guest bedrooms that are completely removed from the hustle and bustle upstairs. “It was really important to us that we keep those two areas as physically separated from each other as possible,” says Yabu. “We wanted to give our friends their own private world so that they wouldn’t feel obliged to hang out with everyone all the time; they can feel free to slip away unannounced.”
For their part, however, the homeowners spend most of their time in the awe-inspiring living room, which they outfitted simply with a pair of handsome vintage jacaranda wood chairs they found while vacationing in Rio de Janeiro, and a plush oversize sectional that’s perfect for watching the waves outside. “At the end of the day, it’s about more than the furniture or the materials we used,” says Pushelberg. “It’s about the overall composition of the place and how the house can both pick you up and calm you down. We’ve got a real emotional connection with it. I wish we were there right now!”