Tucked behind a wispy screen of river birches, just steps from the waters of Mecox Bay, is a sprawling 10,000-squarefoot Shingle-style home set on a 1-acre site in Water Mill. Architecturally, it’s not unlike many of its neighbors in the Hamptons, so when interior designer Jennifer Post initially walked up the New York-bluestone path to the entrance, she was a little confused. Her first thought: “Are you sure you have the right person?”
For Post’s idiom is contemporary: crisp, clean lines; bold; bright; ethereal. And despite what the exterior may have portrayed, that is exactly what the owners of this home were looking for in a vacation residence. “They envisioned modern and sexy interiors—a very entertainment-oriented décor, indoors and out,” says Post. “They wanted to use every room, every day.”
For the almost newlyweds, the redesign was an opportunity to create a from-scratch living space, with pops of their favorite colors and art—a haven for family and friends. “It’s all about the views,” says the husband, a finance executive who has four children ages 17 to 24 from a previous marriage. “We wanted to come in from the bay and plop down in comfort.”
Originally built with pile construction and grade-beam foundation, the architecture was designed to be stately and timeless, but it also needed to comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) elevations to accommodate the flood zone. “We had to build it up in excess of 30,000 yards of fill after we built the retaining wall,” explains general contractor John Nocera. “The first-floor elevation is above the flood plain, and there are 196 pilings under the home.” To take advantage of the views, though, architectural changes were made— such as relocating the master-suite wing to the east side and, perhaps most important, shifting the location of the pool from the backyard to the side of the home facing the bay on the south.
It is in this context that Post began setting up engaging tensions in the interior, installing her signature Benjamin Moore Super White on the walls. She next re-stained the floors from dark chocolate to a heather gray to make them simultaneously fun and sophisticated. “Everything I do is very deliberate,” says the designer. “I truly believe furniture should be comfortable—but I like to treat it as architecture and sculpture.”
Indeed, the furniture serves function with distinctive forms. Post calls a large-scale white-lacquer carbon filter floor lamp that hovers over furnishings in the living room her “praying mantis.” In the lounge, the designer eschewed expected furnishings and placements in favor of a quartet of modern rockers gathered around one of her custom-designed tables. “I just wanted to do something arresting,” says Post, who launched a palette of brilliant blue with orange accents—requested by the homeowners—which remains consistent throughout.
“Blue goes so beautifully with the beach.” For the octagonal sun room that looks out on the bay, she gave orange the starring role with roomy lounge chairs. The spacious master suite is a peaceful oasis, furthering the water-sky blue palette, especially appreciated from a couple of private balconies.
The link to the outdoors and the ambience from within was important to the landscaper, as well. “My inspiration was to create three different rooms,” says landscape designer Ruben Dario Garcia—who took over the project when the original landscape architect, George Lynch, passed away. “The barbecue area, seating area—where you can enjoy coffee—and the outdoor dining area are all surrounded by different shapes of boxwood, Pee Gee hydrangeas, big round white Annabelle’s and purple nepeta, so there’s color and separation.”
Existing clay soil was not nurturing, however, and he had to replace it with sand and create natural irrigation troughs. “We dug 100 holes by hand, 6 feet down and almost as wide.” A natural, almost wild, look with indigenous plantings was the goal, with the use of modern outdoor furnishings creating a seamless transition with the interiors. “Jennifer balanced sophistication with the artwork and furnishings,” notes Nocera, “maintaining a beachy feel throughout that is totally livable.”
And the homeowners are in complete agreement.
“Coming out here,” says the husband, “my whole mood changes. I feel like I’m heading to a place of relaxation.” His wife especially appreciates this aura in the bright, open kitchen, which is complete with top-of-the-line appliances and a 2-inch-thick honed statuary marbletopped island. “It is my favorite room,” says the wife. “It’s the place where everyone gathers. We spend the most time there, standing around the counter with a bottle of wine. I start cooking something, and it’s spacious enough to fit everyone. Good things are always happening—it’s perfect.”
— Elaine Markoutsas