If you’re lucky enough to pass through the gates of the Montauk Shores Condominium, the scent is the first thing that hits you. It’s a scraped-off-the-ocean-floor brine that can only be found at the wildest Atlantic beaches. What hits you next is the visual, for the beachfront condo association is in fact a trailer park replete with vintage Winnebagos and postage stamp-sized yards. Admittedly, with one of America’s best surfing beaches as the backdrop, the humble setting takes on an exalted quality.
One mobile home manages to stand out while blending in with its environs—perhaps unsurprisingly, as it bears the stamp of architect Frederick Stelle. Lending a warm, minimalist sensibility honed over 35-plus years living in the area, Stelle embarked on a top-to-bottom renovation of his clients’ standard-issue trailer, reinforcing the flimsy structure, refinishing the interiors and cladding the façade in cedar shiplap and the roof in galvanized steel. “One thing that all of our projects have in common is materials that stand up to the elements while weathering,” says Stelle. “The houses that have always appealed to me most look like they’ve suffered life’s slings and arrows but are still standing proudly.”
Another hardy material choice befitting the oceanfront setting: The wraparound deck Stelle fashioned of mahogany, a tropical hardwood that “doesn’t rot and doesn’t get beat up,” he notes. Seated at the built-in bench that runs the trailer’s eastern perimeter, the focus by design is not on the architecture, but on the magnificent views. The eye sweeps across conservation land dotted with bayberry, black pines and native grasses, up to the Seven Sisters—the iconic cluster of Shingle-style homes designed by McKim, Mead and White in the 1880s—down the steps to the rocky shore and finally, out to sea. Adds the architect, “Designing houses that take advantage of a place without dominating is always our goal. It’s all about protecting the land of which we are the stewards.”
To celebrate the spirit of this singular retreat— simplicity, bohemianism, connection to nature— Luxe tapped home brand Land of Belle (a curated collection of home accessories from leading brands and artisans, with Hamptons roots) to design a gathering befitting the unspoiled beauty of its surroundings.