Architect Paul Masi, Co-founder of New York based firm Bates Masi, spent his childhood summers in breezy Montauk. Masi's partner, Harry Bates, is a longtime resident of East Hampton, making it fair to say that East Coast elegance runs in their veins. The firm has an impressive portfolio filled with 45 years of authentic and contemporary coastal homes, most recently the Sagaponack House. The architects approached the design with the idea of sculpting away rather than building out. This subtraction concept manifested into a long boxy wood structure where spaces run the full width of the house with floor to ceiling sliding doors on both sides. If the owners open all of the windows and sliding doors, people passing by would be able to see completely through the home, to the ocean on the other side. Awesome.
The home is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and a freshwater pond, like a barrier between two bodies of water. Because of the location of the site, coastal and wetland zoning regulations became integral to the design, choice of materials, and layout. Heavy gauge corten steel was chosen because it is low maintenance in spite of being relentlessly sandblasted by the wind.
Cedar siding and screens are finished using a Victorian technique in which the iron sulphate in a blend of white vinegar and iron filings reacts with the tannins in wood, creating an ebony finish that penetrates through the material and will not require refinishing.
The plinth of the elevated house is carved into a series of stepped planters that are further sculpted into the entry steps, mediating the different grades required by flood control regulations. Regulations are limiting, but Bates & Masi used the conditional restraints to their advantage, even creating vegetated roofs further reduce the environmental impact.
The interior spaces are nested within one another. Operable partitions pull out from the walls of the living room, carving out a media room within the living room when privacy is desired. Conversely, with the partitions open, the media room merges with the living room for large gatherings.
The thickness of the wall separating the dining room and kitchen is also cut away, utilizing its depth to accommodate a wine rack that also functions as a light fixture.
The home is built for an adventurous type couple with 4 young sons - meaning the interior finishes needed to be sturdy! The cedar sideboards are a dominant interior element, making its way into each of the spaces.
The bedroom walls and ceilings are covered with the wood, complemented with minimalistic furniture, and can completely open up to the stunning ocean - that is literally in the back yard.
(Photography By Michael Moran)