Firmly anchored among the dunes on Long Island’s South Shore—with the Stlantic to one side, the Bay to the other—is the land lover’s equivalent of a luxury liner. At least that’s how architect Stuart L. Disston envisioned it when a New York couple, wanting to ensure that their empty nest would be brimming with family on weekends, asked him to transform the 1980s wood-clad beach house they purchased into an ultra-modern, über-fun gathering place. “When you are in it, you are at sea,” says the owner.
And so began a major two-year renovation. Disston, partner at Austin Patterson Disston Architects in Quogue, New York, drew up plans for the design, taking inspiration from the wife, who has general affinities for stone over wood, New York City lofts and rooftop nightclubs. What resulted was uncharted territory for the architect. “We’re known for more traditional work,” says Disston, who helmed the renovation with project manager Josh Rosensweig. “The owners introduced us to some modern exterior skin sys- tems. They were the perfect clients for this.” To clad the structure, the owner specified the use of stucco and terra cotta: “I wanted to use materials that were impervious to the elements,” the husband says.
Restricted by building codes to keep the envelope of the original structure, Disston created volume by gutting the middle and installing 16-foot-high glass structural fin walls on either side of the two-story living room, affording views of both bodies of water simultaneously—ergo the “at sea” feeling. “Because of the huge windows, you can stand on the north deck and see the ocean, or you can stand on the south deck and see the bay,” the architect says. Furthermore, Disston deliberately obscured views of the neighboring beach village by installing semi-opaque alabaster material and clerestory windows on the north end, providing the sensation when inside of traveling by boat in a southerly direction.
Inside, pops of color are the exception in the primarily neutral color scheme. The couple have been long-time friends and clients of New York City-based designers Stephen B. Jacobs and Andi Pepper, so they called on them to keep things ultra-minimalist but inviting. “There’s a softness that contrasts the rectilinear qualities; it isn’t minimalism in its traditional sense,” Jacobs says.
In the living area, the severity of the cube-like space is softened with a fire- place wall upholstered in cream-colored Ultrasuede. “It counteracts the noise and hardness,” says design principal Pepper, who, along with project manager Vaishali Singh, directed the interior design for the project. The S-shaped Vladimir Kagan sofa further softens the room, and takes its color cue from the Mondrian-esque tri-color floor pattern designed by Pepper, who is also a trained artist. To add warmth in the dining area, a large walnut table from Hudson brings an organic element to the pivotal space. The sleek lacquered kitchen looks to be right out of a New York City loft; a full-length cabinet door reveals another “working” kitchen directly behind.
The fun continues upstairs, with a backlit onyx bar leading to a cozy lounge area off to the ocean side, where the wife, who’s learning to be a DJ, entertains on the turntables. “We added more gold upstairs,” says Pepper of the lounge’s gilded shades that reflect the living areas downstairs. Opposite the lounge and overlooking the bay side is a spacious deck outfitted with white Dedon furnishings from Janus et Cie that are easily—and often—moved to create a rooftop dance floor; the full moon its perfect disco ball.
With nine bedrooms, a dozen bathrooms and an array of outdoor space that includes multi-level decks, a swimming pool and pool house, outdoor kitchen, fire pit, and tennis and basketball courts, there are as many diversions in the modern manse as there are on the Queen Elizabeth 2. And, if one needs to rock, there is also a hammock. Except for provisioning, “It makes absolutely no sense to leave it,” laughs the husband.